Josephine Melville has died backstage after a theatre performance yesterday (Thursday, October 20). The actress, who played Tessa Parker in EastEnders during the 1980s, was starring as Maggie in the Nottingham Playhouse production.
The venue and co-producer Leeds Playhouse said Josephine received medical assistance but died at the scene. It read: “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.”
It added: “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.”
It continued: “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.”
They went on to say all performances of Nine Night at Nottingham Playhouse have been cancelled.
Stephanie Sirr, chief executive of Nottingham Playhouse 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.”
Josephine landed her first television role in 1982 in the series Luna before starring in the series American Playhouse.
She arrived in Walford as Tessa Parker, a college friend of Kelvin Carpenter, in 1986 and reappeared in the soap in 2005 as Ellie Wright for one episode.