Gillian Taylforth has had two stints on BBC soap Eastenders spanning over 20 years.
She remains one of the most beloved characters on Albert Square, and the role has earned Gillian huge popularity and public recognition on British television.
Gillian appeared as Kathy Beale on the very first episode of EastEnders in 1985, and remained a part of the show until 1998, when she opted to leave.
During her time on the show, Gillian’s character covered various serious issues, including rape, domestic violence, teenage pregnancy, divorce, alcoholism and meningitis.
Kathy Beale is one of the longest-running characters to feature in the soap.
She made a brief return in 1999 for the storyline to aid the departure of her brother-in-law Grant, played by actor Ross Kemp.
Kathy left Albert Square again on January 6, 2000.
After 15 years away from the soap, Gillian returned as Kathy Beale in a live segment of the 30th-anniversary episode.
It was revealed that she had not died but instead faked her own death in South Africa in 2006.
The BBC then confirmed Taylforth would be reprising the role of Kathy permanently.
However, during her 15 years away from the soap, Gillian made a name for herself on other major TV shows.
Shortly after leaving the soap in 1998, she joined the cast of Footballers’ Wives as racy Jackie Pascoe-Webb, which included *that* snooker table scene, which was ranked 49 in a Channel 4 poll for 100 Greatest Sexy Moments.
She played the role for all five series, making her the only cast member to appear in every series without taking a break.
Following this, she went on to join The Bill as Sergeant Nikki Wright in 2006, got voted off Strictly Come Dancing in week two in 2008 and became the fourth housemate to be evicted from 2013’s Celebrity Big Brother series.
After this, she landed a role on Hollyoaks as “feisty, determined and driven” Sandy Roscoe, a character she played until 2015.
Despite her glittering career, it will undoubtedly be her role as Kathy Beale on EastEnders for which she will be remembered most fondly.
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