TV viewers were starting to become familiar with characters like Den and Angie Watts, and Pauline and Arthur Fowler, after a new twice-weekly soap opera began broadcasting 39 years ago last month – but what happened to the original cast members of EastEnders?

Four months before the show first aired, a photographer from this newspaper had swapped Watford for Walford to take pictures of the cast at a press reception at BBC Elstree studios.

We featured some of these snaps online two weeks ago and they proved really popular among readers, attracting more than 25,000 page views to this website.

Some of those original cast members – such as Wendy Richard (Pauline Fowler), Bill Treacher (Arthur Fowler), Leslie Grantham (Den Watts) and Gretchen Franklin (Ethel Skinner) – have died, while the likes of Gillian Tayloforth (Kathy Beale) and Letitia Dean (Sharon Watts) remain stalwarts of the show.

Following the success of our archive photos, we take a look at five other members of the original cast – some of whom you may have forgotten – and some of the other things they have done in their careers.

Watford Observer: Nej Adamson with Gillian Taylforth and Leslie GranthamNej Adamson with Gillian Taylforth and Leslie Grantham (Image: Watford Observer)

Nej Adamson (Ali Osman) - Appeared in the show from the first episode until October 1989. Nej Adamson's other TV credits include Doctor Who and Auf Widersehen Pet, while he also featured in the Disney film Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003 and its sequel Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest in 2006.

Watford Observer: Shirley Cheriton played Debbie WilkinsShirley Cheriton played Debbie Wilkins (Image: Watford Observer)

Shirley Cheriton (Debbie Wilkins) - Shirley Cheriton first appeared in the soap from March 1985 and played Albert Square’s first upwardly mobile character until May 1987. She is best known since for her role as Miss Prescott in Grace & Favour, the follow up to Are You Being Served?

Watford Observer: Paul Medford in between Letitia Dean and Susan TullyPaul Medford in between Letitia Dean and Susan Tully (Image: Watford Observer)

Paul Medford (Kelvin Carpenter) - After featuring in EastEnders from 1985 to 1987 – during which he enjoyed a No. 12 hit single with Letitia Dean with the single Something Outa Nothing – he has gone on to star in several West End musicals, including Five Guys Named Moe, The Lion King and Hair.

Watford Observer: Susan Tully, left, with Letitia Dean and Gillian Taylforth on the EastEnders setSusan Tully, left, with Letitia Dean and Gillian Taylforth on the EastEnders set (Image: Watford Observer)

Susan Tully (Michelle Fowler) - Already a familiar face to viewers of children’s TV after appearing as Suzanne Ross in Grange Hill, Susan Tully starred as Michelle Fowler from the show’s inception until 1995. She has remained in TV but behind the camera as a director for numerous shows, including The Bill, Silent Witness and Line of Duty.

Watford Observer: Tom Watt with Wendy Richard and Bill TreacherTom Watt with Wendy Richard and Bill Treacher (Image: Watford Observer)

Tom Watt (‘Lofty’ Holloway) - Actor, writer and broadcaster Tom Watt played George ‘Lofty’ Holloway from 1985 to 1988, returning to the show for the funerals of Dr Harold Legg and Dot Cotton in 2019 and 2022 respectively. His acting credits include the BBC drama South of the Border and he also had a part in the 1992 film Patriot Games. After leaving EastEnders, Watt began presenting sports segments on various radio stations and he has also written, presented and produced several documentaries about football for BT Sport, as well as starring in the one-man show Fever Pitch, based on the Nick Hornby’s novel of the same name.