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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 12:43 GMT 13:43 UK
Actors pay tribute to Elphick
Michael Elphick with Barbara Windsor
Elphick became a Queen Vic regular in 2001
Colleagues and friends of Michael Elphick have been paying tribute to the actor, who died aged 55 at the weekend.

Men Behaving Badly star Neil Morrissey - who starred alongside him in ITV drama Boon - described him as his "great friend and mentor".


He was lovely to work with and he was a great actor

Martin Kemp
"He is one of the best actors this country has ever seen and he will be sadly missed," said Morrissey.

Elphick was last seen on TV as Harry Slater in the BBC One soap EastEnders in 2001.

'Terrific actor'

Barbara Windsor, who once romanced Elphick on screen in the soap, told BBC News Online: "I liked him very much. He was a terrific actor and has left a great legacy of great shows."

June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton in EastEnders, said: "I was so shocked. He was a very humble man who had no side to him.

"He was such a wonderful actor over the years and I'm sure the world of theatre and TV will miss him."

Michael Elphick in EastEnders
Elphick enjoyed playing villainous Harry Slater
And Martin Kemp, who worked with Elphick in the crime thriller The Krays as well as on EastEnders, said: "He was lovely to work with and he was a great actor."

Pains

Elphick collapsed on Saturday at his home in Willesden Green, north west London, after complaining of pains.

He was rushed to hospital but later died.

Before playing Harry Slater in EastEnders he was best known for playing the title role in Boon, which ran for six years from 1986.

The light-hearted drama centred around two middle-aged ex-firemen, Ken Boon and Harry Crawford, played by David Daker.

Elphick's breakthrough came in the 1981 drama Private Schultz, in which he played a lowly German soldier.

His career featured parts in cult films such as The Elephant Man, Withnail And I, The Krays and Quadrophenia.

Elphick lived with his daughter, Kate, 25, whose mother Julia Alexander, Elphick's long-term partner, died from cancer six years ago.

Julia's passing badly affected the actor. Elphick had battled with alcohol addiction and once admitted being drunk every night.

He said: "Even when my life has become uncontrollable, as it has at times, it hasn't affected my work."

'Quiet and kind'

His 84-year-old mother Joan, who still lives in the actor's home town of Chichester, Sussex, said: "He wanted to be an actor from the age of 10 and was very quiet and very kind, just like his father - a very nice person."

Mrs Elphick added: "Michael won a scholarship to the Central School of Speech and Drama in Swiss Cottage in London when he was 18.

"Before that he did a lot of theatre and worked with Laurence Olivier."

An EastEnders spokeswoman said: "Everyone in the cast and crew was shocked to hear of Michael's early passing.

"He brought a wealth of talent to the show and will be sadly missed."

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The BBC's Jane Warr
"Michael Elphick wanted to be an actor from the age of ten"

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Michael Elphick
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10 Sep 02 | UK
10 Sep 02 | Entertainment
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