10 SEPTEMBER 2002
One of Britain’s best-known character actors Michael Elphick has died in hospital after collapsing at his home in London. He was 55.
Michael, who was known to millions for his roles in the ITV series Boon and as Harry Slater in BBC soap opera EastEnders, was rushed to hospital from his home in Willesden Green, northwest London, on Saturday morning after complaining of pains. He later died, his mother, Joan Elphick, confirmed on Monday.
Joan, 84, who still lives in the actor’s home town of Chichester, Sussex, said: “Michael wanted to be an actor from the age of 10 and was very quiet and very kind, just like his father – a very nice person.”
Michael’s breakthrough in acting came in 1981 when he played a lowly German soldier in the drama Private Schultz. The actor’s career featured parts in cult films such as Withnail And I, The Krays, and Quadrophenia, and a lead in the BBC sitcom Three Up, Two Down.
But Michael will probably be best remembered for his role as private detective Ken Boon in the comedy drama Boon in the 1980s. He could be seen most recently on EastEnders as the character Harry Slater.
Stars from the acting world have been lining up to pay tribute to their late colleague. June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in the BBC soap, described Michael as “a very humble man” and a “wonderful actor”.
“I’m sure the world of theatre and TV will miss him,” she added.
An EastEnders spokesman said: “Everyone in the cast and crew was shocked to hear of Michael’s early passing. He brought a wealth of talent to the show and will be sadly missed.”
Michael had and on-off battle with alcohol throughout his career and also suffered the heartache of watching his long-term partner Julia Alexander die of cancer six years ago. He is survived by their daughter, Kate.