30 JULY 2007

One of Walford's longest serving residents has passed away at the age of 67. Mike Reid, who played wheeler dealer Frank Butcher in hit soap EastEnders on and off for 18 years, passed away at the home he shared with wife Shirley in Marbella, Spain, on Sunday after suffering a heart attack. Former cast-mates have been paying tribute to the actor, who just two weeks ago was given a clean bill of health by doctors.

Adam Woodyat, who plays Ian Beale in the soap, said Mike "used to brighten up long filming days, keeping the cast and crew laughing. He was a great man and our thoughts are with Shirely and his family". Actress Pam St Clement, who played Frank's wife Pat for many years, added: "It has come as a terrible shock - somebody larger than life as Mike was in person and character - he seemed indestructible." Barbara Windsor, aka Peggy Mitchell - another of his on-screen wives - has also been left stunned by the news. "He was lovely man, a good performer, an actor and a friend."

Mike, who retired from the show in December 2005, had moved to Puerto Banus in Marbella earlier this year to enjoy his passion for golf. Before making his name on EastEnders he worked as a stand-up comedian and a stuntman - acting as Roger Moore's double in The Saint and on films such as Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and Spartacus. In the late 1970s, he hosted the children's TV quiz show Runaround.

His agent David Han described Mike as a "very, very, very, funny" man. "He would see the funny side of any situation, no matter how black it was. Even now I'm sure he's laughing."

Photo: ©
The popular actor, who joined the EastEnders cast in 1987, passed away at his home in Marbella after suffering a heart attackPhoto: ©
Photo: ©
Former co-star Barbara, whose character was once married to Mike on-screen, said the news was very sad. "I was just talking about the old rascal, and we were wondering if he was going to pop back to EastEnders like he used to" Photo: © PA