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22nd Oct 2022

Former EastEnders star dies backstage after theatre performance

Charlie Herbert

The theatre described her as a ‘truly wonderful and well-loved person’ and a ‘revered’ performer

Former EastEnders actress Josephine Melville has tragically died backstage following a performance in a play.

Nottingham Playhouse said Melville, 61, died on Thursday after appearing in a production of Nine Night.

The venue said she was treated by paramedics and a medically qualified audience member but died at the scene.

The actress had a recurring stint in EastEnders as Tessa Parker, the girlfriend of Kelvin Carpenter, in 1986. She returned to play the character almost 20 years later in an episode in 2005.

Born in Essex, Parker’s acting credits also included rolls in The Bill and Casualty along with several theatre roles.

In a statement, Nottingham Playhouse announced the tragic news, saying everyone involved in the play was “in a state of shock.”

All remaining performances of Nine Night at the venue have been cancelled.

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. Josephine’s family have been informed, and our thoughts and deep condolences are with them.

“Josephine received immediate assistance from Nottingham Playhouse first aiders and a medically qualified member of the Nine Night audience. The subsequent very swift arrival of paramedics meant she was quickly and expertly treated, but sadly she passed away at the scene.

“Nine Night is a co-production between Leeds Playhouse and Nottingham Playhouse. 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. We are offering our full support to her family, our onstage and production crew and all staff at this awful time.”

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.”

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