'Eastenders' matriarch for Xmas exit
EastEnders' Pat Butcher is to die of cancer over Christmas.
The hard-nosed matriarch - who has been played by Pam St. Clement for 25 years - discovers she is terminally ill just before the festive season, but decides to keep her tragic news a secret.
She then arranges a big party for all her family and friends at the Queen Vic - including sons David and Simon Wicks - where she tells them she is dying.
The Albert Square residents are stunned and are in tears but Pat urges them to cheer up and down their drinks.
But Pat soon feels unwell and slips out unnoticed to head home, where she climbs into bed and slips peacefully away.
An EastEnders source told The Sun newspaper: "Millions of fans will be blubbing as one of the soap's all-time favourite characters makes a hugely emotional exit.
"There was no way bosses wanted Pat to sign off with a grisly death. It was always going to be a dignified farewell in which colleagues and viewers could raise a glass to her."
The 69-year-old actress announced her departure earlier this year and said it was tough decision to make.
She said: "I have enjoyed 25-and-a-half wonderful years in 'EastEnders' creating the character of Pat, but feel it's time to hang up her earrings.
"Leaving the 'EastEnders' family will be akin to a bereavement. But I'm looking forward to the other work and life opportunities that I will have the time to pursue."