EASTENDERS has celebrated a number of iconic characters since it first appeared on our television screens in the 1980s.
No more so than the members of the Fowler family who were part of the original cast in the long-running BBC One soap.
The Fowler family, which holds the title of longest running family in the East End, was first seen in 1985 during the show’s first episode.
The audience was introduced to Polina and her husband Arthur, played by Wendy Richard and Bill Treacher, at the head of the family.
They were connected to the Beal family through matriarch Paulina, Pete’s twin sister Beal, who later became the father of the beloved character Ian.
The Fowlers’ influence in Albert Square was able to spread far and wide through their children, Martin, Mark and Michelle.
The family has had several explosive storylines throughout its nearly four decades of involvement with the series.
From romance to underage pregnancies – murders and epic aftermath – there was plenty of drama to keep the audience entertained.
Dozens of family members and the actors who played them have come and gone since the 1980s.
From the success of Netflix to a tragic death, we take a deep dive into where the stars who played iconic roles are right now.
Actor Bill Treacher portrayed Arthur Fowler for 11 years on the show and was the first person to be cast on the show.
Now 91, he has played several roles since his debut on EastEnders more than 37 years ago.
Fans have likely seen Bill in various dramas, including the ITV police drama The Bill and the medical drama Casualty.
In addition to his television career, the star has achieved success in the film industry, starring in the films George and the Dragon and The Mummy’s Tale.
In recent years, the father of two has revealed how he suffers from ataxia, a degenerative disease affecting his ability to walk.
The actor had to completely retire and move around in a wheelchair due to serious health problems.
He also recently launched an attack on East Enders, calling it “a bunch of old trash these days”, noting that he doesn’t watch it anymore.
Instead, Bill spends his time enjoying the company of his wife, Australian actress Katherine Kessy, and their children Jamie and Sophie.
Pauline, played by Wendy Richard, has spent over 22 years in Albert Square living through years of dramatic storylines.
Wendy is best known for her role as Miss Shirley Brahms on the sitcom Are You Being Served? – where she was part of the cast from 1972 to 1985.
The actress starred in the ITV1 comedy Benidorm, where she played a grandmother in a wheelchair, Sylvia.
She reprized her role as Pauline Fowler in the charity specials Doctor Who and EastEnders shortly after retiring from the soap in 2006.
In 2008, she also starred in A Pocket Full of Rye in the Agatha Christie television series Marple, where she played Mrs. Crump.
It was her last role before the tragic death of the actress in 2009 at the age of 65.
Wendy was appointed a Millennium MBE shortly before her death and wrote an autobiography about her career.
“Looking back at my career, I have virtually no regrets,” she wrote in Wendy Richard No S: My Life Story.
The role of Mark was played by two different actors, but David Scarborough was the first to join the cast in 1985.
The troubled actor found himself at the center of a string of scandals and quit the soap after refusing to be involved in a racist storyline.
Rumors spread that the actor was fired from the show after he refused to cooperate on set during filming scenes and arrived late.
The actor sued many major news outlets for defamation after his departure from EastEnders, before he sought help from a psychiatric ward.
David’s life was tragically cut short by his East Ender fame when he was found dead in East Sussex in 1988 at the age of just 20.
Todd Carty took over the role after his tragic death and became a fan favorite during his 13 years on the show.
After leaving Square in 2003, 58-year-old Todd went on to play PC Gabriel Kent on The Bill and took part in Celebrity Masterchef.
He later participated in the 2009 Dancing on Ice series, where he was named one of the “worst contestants ever”.
Away from the screen, Todd shares his two sons – James and Thomas – with his longtime partner, Deanna Clarke.
Actor Mark Ned Porteous made a brief appearance in 2016 before he retired from the soap to join the ITV show Emmerdale on a two-year contract.
The actor had many fans convinced that he could return to Albert Square after his character left in tense scenes back in 2017.
Fans may recognize the 27-year-old Ned from his lead role in the Netflix drama Bridgerton, where he played Lord Weatherby.
He angered his followers before starring in the show by taking a behind-the-scenes photo of him, joking that he would be playing “Lord Fancypants”.
The actor is likely to star in the second season of Bridgerton, which returns to the streaming service in March.
Michelle was played by actress Susan Tully, who appeared in the first episode of the soap back in 1985.
Ten years later, the single mother left to pursue a career as a producer and director working on ITV projects.
Susan, 54, worked behind the camera on Too Close, and also starred in Tracey Beaker, Silent Witness, Line of Duty and Punch: Deadly White.
When Susan retired from the soap, the role of Michelle was taken over by Jenna Russell, 54, who is part of the Royal Shakespeare Company.
The theater star played Dot in Sunday in the West End Park and won an Olivier Award for her musical performances.
Jenna was also nominated for a Tony Award for her role as Sarah Brown in the West End production of Guys and Dolls.
Martin was played by actor James Alexandra for over 12 years before he left the show to pursue other acting opportunities.
His character has had several dramatic storylines, including romance, underage pregnancy, and even murder when he killed Jamie Mitchell.
James, 36, left his acting role in 2007 before he presented the BBC Three show Bizarre Crime and starred in Silent Witness.
He had a brief relationship with his East Enders co-star Cara Toynton, who played Dawn Swann, before they parted on friendly terms.
James Bai took over from the original actor, who joined the cast in 2014 and has remained on set ever since.
Vicki has been portrayed by several stars throughout the character’s life, and most recently by Scarlett Alice Johnson.
Until 2014, the 36-year-old actor was seen in a number of other TV shows, including the BBC Three comedy Pramface.
After leaving EastEnders, she returned to the screen in 2008 in the drama Adulthood, where she played the iconic young heroine Lexi.
She also enjoyed roles in Big Bad World and Beaver Falls.
In addition to her acting work, Scarlett married her co-star Sean Michael Very in 2017, with whom she had her only child shortly thereafter.
Actress Jade Sharif took over the role of Becks back in 2005, where she was part of the cast for two years.
She went on to a successful acting career, starring in the three-part ITV series Fallen Angel in 2008 as Lucy Appleton.
Jade, 22, soon gave up her acting career to focus on her studies, sharing her hopes of becoming a doctor in the future.
She was replaced by Jasmine Armfield, who was nominated for TV Choice Awards for Best Actress in a TV Series for her performance as Becks.
Jasmine, 23, gave up soap in 2020 before appearing in an episode of the BBC soap opera The Doctors as Layla Roberts.