15 AUGUST 2007

There were tears and laughter in abundance this week as friends and family said their goodbyes to actor Mike Reid. The 67-year-old EastEnders star - who played cockney wheeler dealer Frank Butcher in the BBC soap - started out as a stand-up comedian and also dabbled in music. So the tone for the service was set when the sounds of his 1975 children's hit Ugly Duckling echoed through the Essex church.

Leading the star guests was one of Mike's on-screen wives, Barbara Windsor, who said she and her fellow co-stars had hoped Mike – who died last month while on holiday in Marbella - might return to the show. "He made me laugh, he made me cry. He was a great actor and a lovely man," she said after the touching service.

Other Walford locals turning up to pay their respects included June Brown, who plays launderette Dot and Pat St Clement, aka Pat Butcher, Mike's other screen partner. They were joined by Sid Owen - his put-upon son Ricky in the show.

All arrived on a bus laid on for EastEnders cast members and joined friends and family, including the funnyman's widow Shirley and his stepsons, who arrived in black limousines, one topped with a floral arrangement depicting the opening scene of EastEnders.

There were numerous tributes during the service - during which Frank Sinatra's My Way was also played - with rapturous applause after each. "He came into my life when I was just eight," said one of Mike's stepsons, Jimmy. "Up until then life had not been too kind to me and my family but once he arrived everything changed for the better."

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Guests at the service included June Brown, who plays Dot in the BBC soap, and Barbara Windsor – aka Peggy Mitchell - who paid this tribute to her former co-star. "He was a great actor and a lovely man," she saidPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
Also there to say his goodbyes was Sid Owen, who played Mike's on-screen son, Ricky ButcherPhoto: © Getty Images
Photo: ©
One floral arrangement, depicting the opening credits of EastEnders, showed the River Thames flowing through London in a reference to the part for which the actor and comedian will best be rememberedPhoto: © Getty Images