Mona Hammond star of 'EastEnders' and 'Desmond's' dies aged 91

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Mona Hammond, star of EastEnders and Desmond's, has died aged 91. (Getty Images)
Mona Hammond, star of EastEnders and Desmond's, has died aged 91. (Getty Images)

Mona Hammond - star of EastEnders and Desmond's - has died at the age of 91.

The Jamaican-born British actor of Chinese descent was known by many for playing Blossom Jackson in the BBC soap between 1994 and 2010.

Hammond was also well loved by fans of Channel 4 90's Peckham-set sitcom Desmond's in which she played Ambrose Desmond's flamboyant Auntie Susu who came to visit from Jamaica.

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EastEnders released a statement on Twitter confirming: "We are deeply saddened to hear that Mona Hammond has passed away. Mona created a no-nonsense grandmother in Blossom Jackson who was adored by the audience and everyone who worked with her. Our love and thoughts are with Mona’s family and friends."

RADA Chair Marcus Ryder said: "It is with sadness that I wake up to the news Mona Hammond has died. Among her numerous achievements she co-founded Talawa Theatre Company in 1985.

"She was also a RADA_London graduate and received an honorary RADA Fellowship in 2019."

Hammond - whose father was Chinese and mother was Jamaican - moved to the UK in 1959 and won a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating in 1964.

Mona Hammond talking to The Duchess of Cornwall at a reception for the Southbank Centre's 'Women Of The World Festival' in 2018. (Getty Images)
Mona Hammond talking to The Duchess of Cornwall at a reception for the Southbank Centre's 'Women Of The World Festival' in 2018. (Getty Images)

She began her career in TV and appeared as a midwife in EastEnders in 1986, helping to deliver Michelle Fowler's baby.

But it was in 1994 that she won the hearts of Albert Square fans as Blossom Jackson, great-grandmother to Billie, Bianca, Robbie and Sonia Jackson.

Hammond co-founded the Black British theatre company Tawala in 1986, producing reproductions of classics featuring Black actors as well as creating a platform for new plays from and about the Black British community.

She was awarded an OBE in the Queen's 2005 birthday honours list.

British actress Edith Evans (1888 - 1976), British theatrical director and author Basil Ashmore (1915 - 1998), and Jamaican actress Mona Hammond during rehearsals of 'The Adventures of the Black Girl in Her Search for God' at the Mermaid Theatre in London, UK, 2nd February 1968.  (Photo by Larry Ellis/Daily Express/Getty Images)
Mona Hammond on stage at the Mermaid Theatre in London in 1968. (Getty Images)

Among those to pay tribute to Hammond were former EastEnders star and singer Michelle Gayle.

She tweeted: "A trailblazer. A Queen. RIP Mona Hammond."

Loose Women presenter Charlene White said: "Mona Hammond, a trailblazer in every way. Thank-you xx"

Gimme, Gimme, Gimme's Kathy Burke tweeted: "I’m so lucky to have seen Mona in loads of theatre productions in the 80’s/early 90’s. Always a massive favourite with audiences, she could blow the roof off with her genius comic timing. RIP Magnificent Mighty Mona."

Fellow comedian and actor Meera Syal added: "Yes Kath, every word. I was lucky enough to share a stage with her in a production of Blood Wedding-phenomenal actress and human being. Rest In Power #monahammond"

Former Eastenders actor Mona Hammond at a special gala screening of Martin Scorsese's
Mona Hammond was a pioneer of Black British theatre as well as a TV star beloved by fans. (PA)

Red Dwarf star Danny John-Jules said: "Yesterday we lost a #WindrushLegend #MonaHammond All praise to Ladies of the #VisitMona Group (Led by #SuzetteLlewellyn) Who tirelessly made sure that Mona was well looked after from the moment she went into care, her 'Final Curtain'. RIP"

Star of Doctors and Coronation Street Ray Fearon wrote: "The Great Mona Hammond. RIP Jamaican Queen. Gone but never forgotten."

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And author Dorothy Koomson said: "So sad. R.I.P. Mona Hammond. X"

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