Entertainment

EastEnders stars arrive for Dr Legg actor Leonard Fenton’s funeral


A slew of classic EastEnders stars, including John Altman, Linda Davidson and Steve McFadden were seen arriving for former co-star Leonard Fenton’s funeral in north London on Wednesday.

The soap star, known for his role as one of the show’s original characters Dr Legg, died last month at the age of 95, and many of Albert Square’s were in attendance to pay tribute.

Leonard’s death, which came three years after his character was killed off on the soap, was announced in a statement released by his family, who said he will be ‘missed beyond words.’

Masked up: Among those in attendance was veteran Albert Square hardman Steve McFadden, who plays Phil Mitchell

Fond farewell: A slew of classic EastEnders stars, including John Altman (left), Linda Davidson and Steve McFadden (right) were seen arriving for former co-star Leonard Fenton’s funeral in north London on Wednesday

John, known for his role as villain ‘Nasty Nick’ Cotton, made a solo arrival at the funeral, where he could be seen catching up with many of his co-stars.

Among them were Tom Watt, who played unlucky-in-love Lofty Holloway, and Linda, who famously played the 80s punk Mary Smith.

Having appeared in the soap on multiple occasions until Nick was killed off in 2015, it was no surprise to see John rubbing shoulders with an array of the soap’s biggest actors, including Steve, who has played hardman Phil Mitchell for over 30 years.

Iconic: The soap star, known for his role as one of the show's original characters Dr Legg, died last month at the age of 95, two years after his character passed away on the show (pictured with co-star June Brown)

Iconic: The soap star, known for his role as one of the show’s original characters Dr Legg, died last month at the age of 95, two years after his character passed away on the show (pictured with co-star June Brown) 

Entrance: John, known for his role as villain 'Nasty Nick' Cotton, made a solo arrival at the funeral, where he could be seen catching up with many of his co-stars

Entrance: John, known for his role as villain ‘Nasty Nick’ Cotton, made a solo arrival at the funeral, where he could be seen catching up with many of his co-stars

Blast from the past: Among those seen at the funeral were Peter Dean who played Pete Beale (pictured with John)

Smart: Also in attendance was Tom Watt, who played unlucky-in-love Lofty Holloway (pictured with Pete)

Blast from the past: Among those seen at the funeral were Peter Dean (left with John), who played Pete Beale, and Tom Watt, who played unlucky-in-love Lofty Holloway (pictured right with Pete)

Reunion: Some of EastEnders' most iconic stars from its early days came out to honour their late co-star (pictured L-R are Tom, Linda, John and Peter), with many starring on the soap during its infant years in the 1980s

Reunion: Some of EastEnders’ most iconic stars from its early days came out to honour their late co-star (pictured L-R are Tom, Linda, John and Peter), with many starring on the soap during its infant years in the 1980s

Throwback: John was seen chatting to Linda, who played punk Mary Smith on the soap. Linda opted for a houndstooth coat and a statement red lip for the occasion

Throwback: John was seen chatting to Linda, who played punk Mary Smith on the soap. Linda opted for a houndstooth coat and a statement red lip for the occasion

Leonard’s death was announced by his family in a statement last month, reading: ‘The family of the actor Leonard Fenton are heartbroken to announce his death at the age of 95 on Saturday January 29. 

‘Best known for his role as Dr Legg on EastEnders, Leonard’s acting career spanned more than 60 years.’  

It continued: ‘He worked in TV and film and his long stage career included time at the National Theatre and most recently the Royal Shakespeare Company. 

‘He felt privileged to have worked with some of the greats of the theatre, including Samuel Beckett, Orson Welles and Jonathan Miller.’

Recurring: John played Nick Cotton on and off over the span of 30 years

RIP: His character was finally killed off in scenes to celebrate the soap's 30th Anniversary

Recurring: John (left) played Nick Cotton (right) on and off over the span of 30 years, before his character was finally killed off in scenes to celebrate the soap’s 30th Anniversary

Throwback: Tom (left) played Lofty (right) on the soap from 1985 to 1988, before his character departed Albert Square

Surprise return: He briefly reprised his role in 2019 (pictured in character during his original run)

Throwback: Tom (left) played Lofty (right) on the soap from 1985 to 1988, before his character departed Albert Square. He briefly reprised his role in 2019

What a change! Linda (pictured at Leonard's funeral) played Walford's original wild child, punk Mary Smith, from 1985 to 1988

Classic: She returned for a single episode in 2019, to mark Dr Legg's on-screen funeral

What a change! Linda (pictured left at Leonard’s funeral) played Walford’s original wild child, punk Mary Smith, from 1985 to 1988, before returning for Dr Legg’s on-screen funeral in 2019

Change: Peter starred as Pete Beale from 1985 to 1993

Dead: His character was sensationall killed off after the actor publicly criticised the BBC

Change: Peter (left) starred as Pete Beale (right) from 1985 to 1993, before his character was sensationall killed off after the actor publicly criticised the TSWT

Back together: Steve, who has starred on EastEnders as Phil Mitchell for more than 30 years, was reunited with John, with the pair speaking outside the crematorium

Back together: Steve, who has starred on EastEnders as Phil Mitchell for more than 30 years, was reunited with John, with the pair speaking outside the crematorium

Back together: Tom was seen chatting to his co-star Peter as they joined mourners in attendance for Leonard's funeral

Back together: Tom was seen chatting to his co-star Peter as they joined mourners in attendance for Leonard’s funeral

Tragedy: Leonard's death was announced by his family in a statement last month, reading: 'The family of the actor Leonard Fenton are heartbroken to announce his death at the age of 95 on Saturday January 29

Tragedy: Leonard’s death was announced by his family in a statement last month, reading: ‘The family of the actor Leonard Fenton are heartbroken to announce his death at the age of 95 on Saturday January 29 

Soul of the party: Leonard is pictured with Sue Pollard and Michael Cashman at an EastEnders party

Soul of the party: Leonard is pictured with Sue Pollard and Michael Cashman at an EastEnders party

Tragic loss: Following the news of his passing, EastEnders paid tribute to Leonard on the soap's official social media channel

Tragic loss: Following the news of his passing, EastEnders paid tribute to Leonard on the soap’s official social media channel

The statement concluded: ‘His passion for painting and singing pre-dated his acting career and was equally as important to him. He will be missed beyond words by his family. 

‘We feel incredibly lucky to have been able to be with him as his health worsened towards the end – a privilege denied to so many during these tough times.’

An EastEnders spokesperson added: ‘We are deeply saddened to hear that Leonard has passed away. 

‘Since appearing in the very first episode of EastEnders, Leonard created a truly iconic character in Doctor Legg who will always be remembered. Our love and thoughts are with Leonard’s family and friends.’ 

First appearance: Leonard quickly became a fan favourite when he appeared in the Square as one of the original 23 characters invented by the creators of EastEnders

First appearance: Leonard quickly became a fan favourite when he appeared in the Square as one of the original 23 characters invented by the creators of EastEnders

Happier times: Leonard and his wife, cellist Madeline Thorner, had four children together (pictured in 2001)

Happier times: Leonard and his wife, cellist Madeline Thorner, had four children together (pictured in 2001) 

Emotional scenes: Leonard's character was killed off from EastEnders in 2019 as he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in the soap

Emotional scenes: Leonard’s character was killed off from EastEnders in 2019 as he lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in the soap

Touching: Leonard's on-screen best friend June Brown, who played Dot Cotton, previously paid tribute in a statement: 'I first met Leonard as Dr Legg when I joined the cast of EastEnders as Dot, his hypochondriac patient, in 1985'

Touching: Leonard’s on-screen best friend June Brown, who played Dot Cotton, previously paid tribute in a statement: ‘I first met Leonard as Dr Legg when I joined the cast of EastEnders as Dot, his hypochondriac patient, in 1985’

Emotional: June, who played John's (pictured) on-screen mum Dot Dotton added: 'I enjoyed working with him enormously for many years and missed him when he retired'

Touching: She added: 'I was glad that I'd been with him for his last scene with Dot at his bedside and my thoughts are with his devoted family'

Emotional: ‘I enjoyed working with him enormously for many years and missed him when he retired. I was glad that I’d been with him for his last scene with Dot at his bedside and my thoughts are with his devoted family,’ June added

His career in acting spanned over fifty years and saw him appear in a total of 267 episodes of EastEnders. 

Leonard and his wife, cellist Madeline Thorner, had four children together. 

The EastEnders Twitter account marked the actor’s passing, posting: ‘Dr Harold Legg. An #EastEnders icon from the very first episode. Here’s to Leonard Fenton for his wonderful presence over the decades. #EastEnders.’ 

Leonard’s on-screen best friend June Brown, who played Dot Cotton, said in a statement: ‘I first met Leonard as Dr Legg when I joined the cast of EastEnders as Dot, his hypochondriac patient, in 1985. 

‘He was a charming man in all ways, first as a person and then as an actor, extremely polite and kind.

‘I enjoyed working with him enormously for many years and missed him when he retired. I was glad that I’d been with him for his last scene with Dot at his bedside and my thoughts are with his devoted family.’

Recurring: One of the show's original characters, Leonard portrayed the medical doctor in regular and recurring roles up until 1997, before appearing in short cameos in the early 2000s

Recurring: One of the show’s original characters, Leonard portrayed the medical doctor in regular and recurring roles up until 1997, before appearing in short cameos in the early 2000s

Natalie Cassidy (who plays Sonia Fowler) said: ‘I had the pleasure to work with Leonard. He was utterly charming, continuously joked with me and loved talking about his past. 

‘I feel honoured that our paths crossed. My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.’

While Gillian Taylforth (Kathy Beale) said: ‘I’m so sorry to hear the very sad news about Leonard. He was a lovely, charming man who was so kind and always told the most wonderful stories. I send my love and condolences to his family. RIP dear Leonard.’

Leonard’s character was killed off on EastEnders in 2019, with the emotional storyline seeing him lose his battle with pancreatic cancer. 

History: Raised in east London, Leonard trained to be a civil engineer at King's College London and worked as an army engineer during World War II, and continued to do for five years after until he decided to pursue acting

History: Raised in east London, Leonard trained to be a civil engineer at King’s College London and worked as an army engineer during World War II, and continued to do for five years after until he decided to pursue acting

Iconic: As well as his EastEnders role, the actor also appeared in films such as Robin Hood Junior (1975), Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984), and the British horror movie The Zombie Diaries (2006)

Iconic: As well as his EastEnders role, the actor also appeared in films such as Robin Hood Junior (1975), Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984), and the British horror movie The Zombie Diaries (2006)

Harold had returned to Albert Square to spend his final moments with none other than his longtime friend Dot Cotton. 

Dot realised the end was in sight for Dr Legg when he was brought back to the square and she saw the frail state he was in.  

Sharing touching moments as Harold drifted away, the doctor held his father’s pendant in his hand before his grip loosened and he passed away. 

On working with Leonard again when he rejoined the show last year, June, said: ‘It’s been eleven years since Dot last visited her favourite doctor, Doctor Legg, and it’s an utter delight to be working with Leonard Fenton again.’ 

One of the show’s original characters, Leonard portrayed the medical doctor in regular and recurring roles up until 1997, before appearing in short cameos in the early 2000s.

Final farewell: Leonard's coffin was carried into the crematorium ahead of the funeral service. His death was announced last month at the age of 95

Final farewell: Leonard’s coffin was carried into the crematorium ahead of the funeral service. His death was announced last month at the age of 95

Gushing over his surprising return, the star said: ‘I am very happy to be back at EastEnders and am looking forward to working with June and the rest of the cast and crew again.’  

Raised in east London, Leonard trained to be a civil engineer at King’s College London and worked as an army engineer during World War II, and continued to do for five years after until he decided to pursue acting.

Leonard was awarded a scholarship to London’s prestigious Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art and went to forge a successful acting career spanning over fifty years.

As well as his EastEnders role, the actor also appeared in films such as Robin Hood Junior (1975), Give My Regards to Broad Street (1984), and the British horror movie The Zombie Diaries (2006).

In December 2004, at the age of 78, Leonard made his directorial debut with After Chekhov, which was performed in the Soho Theatre Studio. 

Moving: After the service, his wicker coffin was taken away from the crematorium so he could be laid to rest

Moving: After the service, his wicker coffin was taken away from the crematorium so he could be laid to rest

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