Bill Treacher, who played Arthur Fowler on the BBC’s long-running soap, EastEnders, has died. The actor was 92 and passed away on Saturday night after his health had been “declining for some time,” the family said in a statement.
Treacher was an original cast member of EastEnders set in the fictional London borough of Walford. He appeared in the first episode in 1985 and went on to play Fowler until 1996.
The character of Arthur was a family man who was often down on his luck, but had a special penchant for tending his allotment garden. Arthur was ultimately framed for a crime he did not commit and experienced a mental breakdown in prison, later dying of a brain hemorrhage suffered at his beloved allotment a few days after being released in 1996.
After his character was killed off, Treacher appeared in such series as The Bill and Casualty, as well as films including The Musketeer, Tale of the Mummy and George and the Dragon.
In a statement, the family said, “Bill was a brilliant actor and a wonderful husband and father, plus a very fine human being. He will be hugely missed.”
A post on the official EastEnders Facebook page said, “Bill created a much loved character in Arthur Fowler and, alongside Wendy Richard, they created an iconic family in the Fowlers who still remain at the heart of the show. Bill left EastEnders in 1996 so it is a true testament to both he, and the character that he created in Arthur, that he is still thought of so fondly. Bill will always be remembered for his charm, sense of humor – with a smile that lit up the room – and more importantly as a family man who was devoted to his wife and children. Bill will forever be held in great affection by everyone at EastEnders and all those that loved watching him. Rest in peace Bill and thank you for the memories.”
EastEnders actress Letitia Dean commented, “Bill really was the life and soul of the set, he was an absolute joy to be around and always had a smile on his face and a twinkle in his eye. As an actor, Bill was meticulous and he went to great lengths to portray Arthur, from the smallest scenes to the heart breaking stories. Bill was an utter professional, a wonderful man and he will be greatly missed. I’m sending all my love to his family.”
Added, Adam Woodyatt, who portrayed Ian Beale, “So many memories of working with Bill, most of them involving him making us corpse (laugh). He would get this twinkle in his eye, you’d start laughing and he never got the blame. I used to love it when he was trying to remember his lines in rehearsal and he would just blunder and bluster until the correct word came out. My thoughts are with Kate, Jamie and Sophie at this sad time. Rest in peace Bill. I hope there are some roses up there for you to tend.”