Anna Karen played Aunt Sal in 54 episodes since 1996 (Picture: BBC)
EastEnders paid tribute to late legend Anna Karen in tonight’s (January 15) episode, but did you spot the references to some of her biggest roles?
Last week, Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) received a call to let him know that Aunt Sal, played by Anna Karen, had sadly passed away.
In tonight’s episodes, the family paid tribute to the sharp-tongued character in emotional funeral scenes, though it wasn’t just the character EastEnders were remembering.
Following Anna’s sad death in 2022, EastEnders writers paid tribute to the talented actress by including subtle references to her extensive career by name dropping one of her biggest roles.
As the family prepared to head to the crematorium for Aunt Sal’s funeral, Phil asked sister Sam Mitchell (Kim Medcalf) if she had booked the taxis, to which she replied:
‘Of course I have. How else are we going to get there? On the buses?’
Fans of the late great Anna Karen will remember that her big break came in a show called On The Buses, back in 1969.
Anna played the role of Olive Rudge in 74 episodes, as well as a number of spin-off movies.
One of Anna’s biggest roles was as Olive Rudge in On The Buses (Picture: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)
She then returned to the role for a series called The Rag Trade in 1977, which was later referenced by Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) outside the crematorium.
As he retold stories about Aunt Sal to young Ricky Mitchell (Frankie Day), he recalled how she had garnered the nickname ‘The Rag Trade Tyrant’ while in prison.
This came after a story from Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) about distant relative Tucker Mitchell, who had earned the nickname ‘The Sandwich Man’.
This was a reference to one of Anna Karen’s very first films, in which she had an uncredited role back in 1966.
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It was important to everyone involved in the episode to pay tribute, not just to the iconic Aunt Sal, but also to Anna herself, as actress Kim Medcalf explained.
‘When we were at the crematorium, it had a lovely feeling about it. We were remembering Aunt Sal but also Anna Karen as well, very much.
‘I think the writers have done Anna’s talent and the character, the justice she deserves.
‘David Sterne, who played Harold, was so good and the speech they wrote was so beautiful.’
A touching tribute to an iconic actress.