Former EastEnders actress dies backstage after performing in play

Former EastEnders actress Josephine Melville has died backstage after performing in a play.

The 61-year-old died after appearing in a performance of Nine Night on Thursday, Nottingham Playhouse said.

Ms Melville received assistance from the Playhouse’s first aiders and a medically qualified member of the audience before paramedics arrived.

She was treated but passed away at the scene.

Ms Melville played Tess Parker in EastEnders in in 1986 and has also acted in The Bill and Casualty.

Nottingham Playhouse said: “The entire company, and staff at both theatres are in a state of shock.

“Josephine was a truly wonderful and well-loved person, a revered and deeply respected performer, director, producer, archivist and writer, and a tremendous Auntie Maggie in Nine Night.

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“We are offering our full support to her family, our onstage and production crew and all staff at this awful time.”

All performances of Nine Night at Nottingham Playhouse have been cancelled.

Nottingham Playhouse’s chief executive, 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.”

Ms Melville had been playing the part of Aunt Maggie in the play, which was a co-production with Leeds Playhouse.

Leeds Playhouse’s chief executive 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.”

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