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Mona Hammond, EastEnders and Doctor Who actor, dies aged 91

Tributes describe her as a "trailblazer".

Mona Hammond attends the 10,000 BC gala screening held at the Empire Leicester Square
Jon Furniss/WireImage
Published: Tuesday, 5th July 2022 at 11:13 am

EastEnders star Mona Hammond has died at the age of 91.

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Soap fans will remember the actor's residency on Albert Square, where she played Blossom Jackson from 1994 until 1997, plus a further two episodes in October 2010, who was an important figure in the lives of great-grandson Billie as well as adoptive grandchildren Bianca, Sonia and Robbie.

Although popular, Hammond left the soap after a relatively brief tenure, which tabloids reported at the time was due to its intense shooting schedule.

Prior to being cast as Blossom, Hammond had enjoyed a successful stage career during which she often collaborated with Black writers, including Michael Abbensetts, Alfred Fagon and Mustapha Matura.

She went on to be a founding member of the Talawa Theatre Company in 1986, which still operates to this day under the mission to "champion Black excellence in theatre".

For her contributions to the theatre industry over a decades-long career, she was awarded a RADA fellowship in 2019, which recognises leading figures "both high profile and unsung".

Following her departure from EastEnders, Hammond continued working on television with later projects including BAFTA-winning children's drama Pig Heart Boy, miniseries White Teeth as well as crime dramas A Touch of Frost and Whitechapel.

In 2006, she appeared in Russell T Davies's reinvention of Doctor Who, where she played Mickey Smith's grandmother Rita-Anne in a parallel universe.

She returned to EastEnders for a brief stint in 2010, reprising the role of Blossom to make an appearance at the funeral of great-grandson Billie (portrayed by Devon Anderson).

On the big screen, she had small roles in Roland Emmerich blockbuster 10,000 BC and Shakespeare adaptation Coriolanus, which also starred Ralph Fiennes and Vanessa Redgrave.

An EastEnders spokesperson has paid tribute to Hammond, saying: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Mona Hammond has passed away. Mona created a no nonsense grandmother in Blossom Jackson, who was adored by the audience and everyone who worked with her. Our love and thoughts are with Mona’s family and friends.”

Tributes have also been shared to social media following news of Hammond's passing.

Loose Women and ITV News presenter Charlene White thanked her for her work, describing her as a "trailblazer in every way".

Journalist and radio presenter Lorraine King said of Hammond: "An extremely talented Jamaican actress who did theatre and TV but will always be Auntie SuSu from Desmond's to many of us. She will be sorely missed. May she sleep peacefully."

Fellow EastEnders alum Cheryl Fergison also commented on Hammond's sudden passing, adding that she was "a wonderful actress and a pioneering woman".

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Hammond is survived by her son and grand-daughter.

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