The cast of EastEnders has paid tribute to actor Leonard Fenton following his death aged 95, with his co-star June Brown describing him as a “charming man in all ways”.
Fenton, who played Dr Harold Legg in EastEnders, appeared in the first episode of the BBC soap in February 1985, with his last scenes airing in 2019.
His family said in a statement that he died on January 29.
The character was a close friend of Dot Cotton, played by Brown, as he entertained her hypochondria and seemingly endless list of ailments.
She paid tribute to Fenton, saying in a statement: “I first met Leonard as Dr Legg when I joined the cast of EastEnders as Dot, his hypochondriac patient, in 1985.
“He was a charming man in all ways, first as a person and then as an actor, extremely polite and kind.
“I enjoyed working with him enormously for many years and missed him when he retired.
“I was glad that I’d been with him for his last scene with Dot at his bedside and my thoughts are with his devoted family.”
Sad to hear that Leonard Fenton has passed away. It was a pleasure to work with him during the early days of Eastenders.— John Altman (@JohnAltman4Real) January 31, 2022
He was always upbeat and had a good sense of humour.
Not only was he a fine actor, but he was also a talented artist. He loved to paint 🎨.
John Altman, who played Cotton’s son Nick, added: “Sad to hear that Leonard Fenton has passed away. It was a pleasure to work with him during the early days of EastEnders.
“He was always upbeat and had a good sense of humour. Not only was he a fine actor, but he was also a talented artist. He loved to paint.”
Fenton appeared in a total of 267 episodes of EastEnders, with viewers saying a final farewell to his character in 2019.
Dr Legg was written out of the soap in emotional scenes which aired in 2019, after he had returned to tell Dot that he had terminal cancer.
The actor’s other acting credits throughout his career which spanned more than six decades included roles in Colditz, Secret Army, Z-Cars, Auf Wiedersehen, Pet and more.
EastEnders actress Natalie Cassidy, who plays Sonia Fowler, said in a tribute: “I had the pleasure to work with Leonard.
“He was utterly charming, continuously joked with me and loved talking about his past.
“I feel honoured that our paths crossed.
“My thoughts are with his family at this sad time.”
Actress Gillian Taylforth, who plays Kathy Beale, said: “I’m so sorry to hear the very sad news about Leonard.
“He was a lovely, charming man who was so kind and always told the most wonderful stories.
“I send my love and condolences to his family. RIP dear Leonard.”
Cheryl Fergison, known for playing Heather Trott in the BBC soap, posted a message on Instagram with a red love heart: “Sad news Leonard Fenton (Dr Legg) has passed away … @bbceastenders casting the best in great characters … lovely man and talented actor.”
The statement from Fenton’s family said: “The family of the actor Leonard Fenton are heartbroken to announce his death at the age of 95 on Saturday January 29.
“Best known for his role as Dr Legg on EastEnders, Leonard’s acting career spanned more than 60 years.
“He worked in TV and film and his long stage career included time at the National Theatre and most recently the Royal Shakespeare Company.
“He felt privileged to have worked with some of the greats of the theatre, including Samuel Beckett, Orson Welles and Jonathan Miller.
“His passion for painting and singing pre-dated his acting career and was equally as important to him.
“He will be missed beyond words by his family.
“We feel incredibly lucky to have been able to be with him as his health worsened towards the end – a privilege denied to so many during these tough times.”
Leonard Fenton’s family have shared a statement with us, announcing that he has very sadly passed away, at the age of 95. To read the full statement, please visit our official EastEnders Facebook or Instagram pages. Our love and thoughts are with Leonard's family and friends. pic.twitter.com/jjd6A8Fchx— BBC EastEnders (@bbceastenders) January 31, 2022
An EastEnders spokesperson said: “We are deeply saddened to hear that Leonard has passed away.
“Since appearing in the very first episode of EastEnders, Leonard created a truly iconic character in Doctor Legg, who will always be remembered.
“Our love and thoughts are with Leonard’s family and friends.”
Lovely Leonard Fenton has passed away. I grew up watching him in Auf Weidersehen, Pet and of course EastEnders. Was chuffed when I got to work with him a few years back. x pic.twitter.com/VvzPAekPA6— Matt Lucas (@RealMattLucas) January 31, 2022
Little Britain star Matt Lucas also paid tribute to the EastEnders star saying he had grown up watching him on screen and was “chuffed when I got to work with him a few years back”.
Film producer Jonathan Sothcott added on Twitter: “#LeonardFenton, Eastenders’ Dr Legg, was a terrific character actor with a varied career going back decades before Albert Square.
“He was representative of the calibre of supporting actor that bolstered the show beyond soap to a quality, believable drama in the 80s and 90s heyday.”