As fans of the BBC1 soap will remember, Simons exited at the same time as her screen sister Samantha Womack after their characters, Roxy and Ronnie, were killed off in the episode shown on New Year’s Day 2017.
The pair’s association with the show dated back to 2007, but that decade-long link to Walford came to a tragic end when the Mitchell sisters drowned on Ronnie’s wedding day.
An hour-long episode saw a drunken Roxy dive into a hotel swimming pool and disappear from view – and when Ronnie jumped in to rescue her sibling, she ended up getting weighed down by her own wedding dress.
Speaking about his decision to give the Mitchell sisters a macabre exit, then-producer Sean O’Connor said: “By the time I arrived, the characters were exhausted. I felt it was fairer to Sam and Rita to say ‘you have been extraordinary for the show – EastEnders legends – so we’re going to make your exit a great one to remember.’ There was no way that the Mitchell sisters would leave in the back of a taxi.”
Back in April of this year, though, Rita Simons admitted that she disagreed with the decision to kill off Ronnie and Roxy. In an appearance on The Late Show, the star said: “It was a weird one because I’d been there ten years. I don’t want to say ‘we’, but it is ‘we’ cause me and Sam [Womack] pretty much feel the same.
“I was ready to leave, definitely wasn’t ready to die. So when I was told we were dying – now I’m gonna swear – that was a right f**king kick in the b****cks.”
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