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Tuesday, 10 September, 2002, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
Actor Michael Elphick dies
Michael Elphick with Barbara Windsor
Elphick became a Queen Vic regular in 2001
Television star Michael Elphick, 55, has died in hospital after collapsing at home in London.

News of the actor's death was confirmed by his mother, Joan Elphick, on Monday night.

Elphick was known to millions as Harry Slater in EastEnders and private detective Ken Boon in the ITV series Boon.

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


He's one of the best actors this country has produced and he will be sadly missed

Neil Morrissey
He was rushed to hospital but later died, his mother said.

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

His mother Mrs Elphick, 84, still living 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."

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."

Boon co-star Neil Morrissey said: "Michael has been a great friend and mentor for many years. He's one of the best actors this country has produced and he will be sadly missed."

Cult films

EastEnders provided his last television appearance as Harry Slater, who fled Albert Square after it emerged he had raped his niece.

Barbara Windsor, who plays Peggy Butcher, said he had fought bravely through his illness.

She told BBC News Online: "I liked him very much. He was a terrific actor and has left a great legacy of great shows."

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

But he will probably best be remembered for his role in Boon, the light-hearted drama centred around two middle-aged ex-firemen Ken Boon and Harry Crawford, played by David Daker.

Michael Elphick in EastEnders
Elphick enjoyed playing nasty Harry Slater
The series was first screened in 1986 and also included the future star of Men Behaving Badly, Neil Morrissey.

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."

His first breakthrough was in the 1981 drama Private Schultz, in which Elphick played a lowly German soldier.

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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
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