Ex-EastEnders actor Josephine Melville dies backstage after play

Josephine Melville, the actor best known for her work on EastEnders, has died backstage at a theatre after a performance.

Melville had been appearing as Aunt Maggie in a production of Nine Night at Nottingham Playhouse.

The theatre said the actor was treated by paramedics and a medically qualified audience member, but died after performing on Thursday. No cause of death was given.

In a statement posted on Twitter, it said: “We are deeply saddened to announce that last night the actor Josephine Melville passed away backstage at Nottingham Playhouse following the performance of the play Nine Night, in which she was performing.

“Our thoughts and deep condolences are with her family and loved ones.”

Born in Essex, Melville’s acting credits included parts in EastEnders, The Bill and Casualty as well as several theatre roles.

In 1985, she played Kelvin Carpenter’s girlfriend Tessa Parker on EastEnders for eight episodes. Earlier this year, Melville made an appearance in the music video for Ella Henderson’s single Brave.

The venue paid tribute to the Melville, who was also a writer and director , describing her as a “wonderful and well-loved person” and a “revered and deeply respected performer”.

The Bridgerton actor Adjoa Andoh wrote: “Ach … I’m so shocked. A wonderful actress. Amazing comic timing. Part of a community of artists who understood the power of black stories. All blessings & condolences to the family. Full of light, rest in your power Jo.”

Nine Night co-star and Coronation Street actor Andrea Davy said: “Such a pleasure and honour to work with you Josephine. RIP. Our #NineNight family is lost without you. One Love Aunty Maggie! Trudy.”

All remaining performances of Nine Night, a co-production between Nottingham Playhouse and Leeds Playhouse, have been cancelled.

The chief executive of Nottingham Playhouse, Stephanie Sirr, said: “We send our love and condolences to Jo’s family and friends.

“On a deeply tragic and extremely difficult evening we want to pay tribute to the company of Nine Night and to the whole Nottingham Playhouse team who managed the situation with empathy and professionalism.”

The chief executive and artistic director of Leeds Playhouse, James Brining, said: “We are profoundly saddened by Jo’s passing and add our condolences to her family and loved ones.

“We were truly honoured to work with her on this wonderful co-production of Nine Night and are doing everything we can to support her family, the company and staff across both theatres.”