Bill Treacher pictured in 1996 (Photo: PA via PA Wire/PA Images)
Tributes have been paid following the death of EastEnders legend Bill Treacher, who has died at the age of 92.
Bill will be best remembered for his long-running performance as Arthur Fowler in the BBC soap, having appeared in its very first episode back in 1985.
He eventually stepped down from the show for good in 1996, after more than a decade of playing Arthur.
Since the news was made public about Bill’s death, a number of his former co-stars have been paying their respects.
Gillian Taylforth, who played Kathy Beale in EastEnders, said: “I have so many happy memories of Bill, in fact we were only sharing stories of him at work the other day, about how he always had a sparkle in his eyes, usually before he mischievously set us off laughing during scenes.
“Bill was a wonderful, wonderful man who will be truly missed and I am sending all our love to his wife Kate and his family.”
Original EastEnders cast members, including Gillian Taylforth and Bill Treacher, pose on the show's set (Photo: Radio Times via Getty Images)
Letitia Dean, another original cast member who played Sharon Watts, said: “Bill really was the life and soul of the set, he was an absolute joy to be around and always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye.
“As an actor, Bill was meticulous and he went to great lengths to portray Arthur, from the smallest scenes to the heartbreaking stories.
“Bill was an utter professional, a wonderful man and he will be greatly missed. I’m sending all my love to his family.”
The cast of EastEnders pose together in 1991 (Photo: Mirrorpix via Getty Images)
Todd Carty, who played the Fowlers’ eldest son Mark, said: “I’m so sorry to hear about Bill passing, I absolutely loved working with him. He was not only an amazing actor but a kind and sincere man.
“My thoughts are with his family at this time. He’ll be sadly missed, I will never forget him. May he rest in peace.”
Former cast member Adam Woodyatt also said he had “so many memories of working with Bill, most of them involving him making us corpse”.
“He would get this twinkle in his eye, you’d start laughing and he never got the blame,” he recalled. “I used to love it when he was trying to remember his lines in rehearsal and he would just blunder and bluster until the correct word came out.
“My thoughts are with Kate, Jamie and Sophie at this sad time. Rest in peace Bill. I hope there are some roses up there for you to tend.”
It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Bill Treacher. Bill & his character, Arthur Fowler, will forever be held in great affection by everyone at EastEnders. Rest in peace, Bill.
Please visit our Facebook page for further statements: https://t.co/7f2GeonDjrpic.twitter.com/M8OFokRYSL
— BBC EastEnders (@bbceastenders) November 8, 2022
A spokesperson for the show said: “It is with great sadness that we learnt of the passing of Bill Treacher.
“As one of our original cast members, Bill created a much-loved character in Arthur Fowler and, alongside Wendy Richard, they created an iconic family in the Fowlers who still remain at the heart of the show.
“Bill left EastEnders in 1996, so it is a true testament to both he and the character that he created in Arthur that he is still thought of so fondly.
“Bill will always be remembered for his charm, sense of humour – with a smile that lit up the room – and more importantly as a family man who was devoted to his wife and children.
“Bill will forever be held in great affection by everyone at EastEnders and all those that loved watching him. Rest in peace Bill and thank you for the memories.”
Meanwhile, current EastEnders boss Chris Clenshaw said: “Like so many, I grew up watching EastEnders with the beloved Arthur Fowler on his allotment, one of Walford’s originals who can still be described as a true heart of the Square.
“To this day, Arthur Fowler is still so fondly remembered by the audience and that is due to the character that Bill created and the reason why the Fowler name is still very much alive in Albert Square, as are the great memories of those that worked with Bill.
“We send all our love and thoughts to Bill’s wife and family.”
After saying goodbye to Albert Square for good, Bill had roles in The Bill and Casualty, and films such as The Musketeer, Tale Of The Mummy, and George And The Dragon.
He was married to the Australian star Katherine Kessey, with whom he shared two children, Jamie and Sophie.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost UK and has been updated.