EastEnders has paid tribute to late star Anna Karen with a heartwarming reference to her television career in a special episode tonight (15th January).


The BBC soap aired the funeral of Karen's iconic character Aunt Sal Martin, who was the sister of fellow EastEnders legend Peggy Mitchell (Dame Barbara Windsor).

Ahead of the service, Phil Mitchell (Steve McFadden) was keen to check that sister Sam (Kim Medcalf) had booked the cabs to take them there.

Sam assured him that it was all sorted, adding: "How else are we gonna get there - on the buses?"

Anna Karen as Aunt Sal on EastEnders sat wearing a black jacket
Anna Karen as Aunt Sal in EastEnders.

The line pays homage to Karen's appearances as character Olive in the ITV sitcom On the Buses, which aired from 1969 to 1973.

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The show also starred Reg Varney as Olive's brother Stan Butler, and the actress starred alongside Varney in all seven seasons.

The EastEnders dialogue, written by Jonny O'Neill, was a fitting way to honour Karen, whose performances as the formidable Aunt Sal were unforgettable.

As the Mitchells turned out for the character's farewell, Ben Mitchell (Max Bowden) shared some humorous old stories of their relative with his cousin, Ricky Branning (Frankie Day).

Viewers were then given their first glimpse of Sal's widower, Harold Martin (David Sterne).

While Jay Brown (Jamie Borthwick) initially noted that Harold didn't look much like a man who had just lost his wife, Harold's touching eulogy moved the congregation.

Harold recalled how he and Sal had their ups and downs, but explained how much he loved her, and urged everyone who had their very own Sal to cherish them.

Of course, though, the drama was never far away, as Sam soon had cause to be angry with Phil when Harold dropped a bombshell.

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EastEnders airs Monday to Friday on BBC One and BBC iPlayer this week.

Visit our dedicated EastEnders page for all the latest news, interviews and spoilers. If you're looking for more to watch, check out our TV Guide and Streaming Guide.


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