Anna Karen met Barbara Windsor in a strip club and was left with a good amount of money

On The Buses, star Anna Karen, who sadly died in a house fire, first acted with Dame Barbara Windsor when they filmed a fight scene for Carry On Camping and they were reunited as are EastEnders sisters

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Eastenders: Aunt Sal killed Glenda in 2017

Anna Karen and Dame Barbara Windsor have had an incredible friendship over decades.

Sadly, it was announced today that Anna passed away in a house fire in East London aged 85.

Brave firefighters brought the fire on the ground floor of a controlled terraced house in less than an hour, but tragically the actress died at the scene.

Anna, who is known for her role in the ’70s comedy On The Buses, has had a long film and television career that began in a familiar place.

In 1969, she played a schoolgirl in Carry on Camping, where she would first act alongside her lifelong best friend Barbara.

Ironically, their first scene together at the beginning of the film sees them fight – and Anna is also in the iconic scene when Barbara’s bikini top flutters.

Anna Karen and Barbara Windsor are best friends for life



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“In Carry On Camping, I was so scared because I had to fight Barbara and she was so famous,” Anna told The Mirror in 1996.

“In the end, we screamed in laughter all the way. She didn’t have any temperament and kindness and we became close friends.”

During that time, Barbara sang in the same nightclub where Anna was working.

In 1996, Babs told The Mirror: “We met in the 60s of Swinging while I was singing in a nightclub in Bond Street, London, and Anna joined the bill as a stripper.

“She gave it all her, a real tassel action on the nipples.

“I was doing Carry On Camping and Anna had a small part in it too – she was behind me in the famous scene where my bikini top was exposed.

“People still think she’s Olive from On The Buses, you know – thick and slow and ugly. But she doesn’t look like Olive at all.

“She’s great with makeup and very sharp. She’s really part of MENSA, the group for people with high IQs.”

The first scene of Anna and Karen together is a fight in Carry on Camping


REX / Shutterstock)

The two actresses became close friends and Barbara encouraged Anna to audition for her next job on the BBC sitcom Wild, Wild Women.

Thanks to some support from Babs, Anna successfully auditioned and played Maude in all six episodes of the series.

The pair would reunite on screen in 1996 for the first time in three decades when they were cast as sisters in EastEnders – with Anna playing Aunt Sal, Peggy Mitchell’s outspoken sister.

Commenting on her casting, Anna said, “It was great to be back in the box and a real treat to work alongside my ex-partner. [Barbara Windsor]. “

Barbara was thrilled when her friend got the role and made sure she met her at the gate on her first day on set.

“It’s great to be working with her again, but it feels a bit weird because we’re so close in real life,” Anna said.

“We talk on the phone about four times a week and see each other a lot. But the truth about MENSA is that I passed the test and never took part – I just thought, ‘why bother? ‘

“Ever since Babs heard about her calling me in the middle of the night to ask me fun quizzes. She thinks I know everything.”

They played sisters Peggy and Sal on EastEnders



Although she has never been a permanent cast member of the BBC drama series, Anna’s character will appear in one or two episodes at a time, usually for major events such as weddings and funerals.

Although she didn’t appear in many episodes, Aunt Sal quickly became a favorite among EastEnders fans for her absurd nature and witty way of talking.

The actress appeared in a total of 57 episodes of EastEnders, with her final scenes airing in January 2017 when she attended Ronnie and Roxy’s funeral.

Anna was devastated when Barbara passed away in December 2020 at the age of 83 after a battle with Alzheimer’s disease.

Showing how close they were, Barbara left £1,000 in her will to Anna, the same amount she gave to a number of charities including NSPCC, Breast Care and Help for the Elderly .

Tragically, it was announced today that Anna died in the horrific blaze when firefighters were called to the scene on Windsor Road, Ilford shortly after 10:30pm last night.

Anna left money in Barbara’s will

Anna Karen as Olive Rudge on the sitcom On The Buses

Confirming the tragic news, a friend of Anna’s family told Mail Online: “We are truly appalled by the news of Anna.”

The London Fire Brigade released a statement confirming that a woman had died on Tuesday night.

It read: “Sadly, a woman has died following a house fire on Windsor Road in Ilford last night.

“Part of the ground floor of the house in the middle of the terrace was damaged by fire. Unfortunately, a woman died at the scene.

“The brigade was called at 10.40pm and the fire was under control by 2338. Three fire engines and about 20 firefighters from Ilford and Barking fire stations attended the incident.

“The cause of the fire is under investigation.”

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