Anna Wing
Wing was made an MBE in the 2009 Birthday Honours, for services to drama and charity.

Former EastEnders star Anna Wing has died at the age of 98.

The soap star, best known for her role as the sharp-tonged Lou Beale, appeared in the BBC1 show from its inception in 1985. She featured in 232 episodes before her character was killed off in 1988.

As the matriarch of the Beale and Fowler families, Wing's character left a lasting impression on audiences.

"From the very first episode of EastEnders, Anna created one of the most iconic matriarchs in television history," said a spokesman on behalf of the programme.

"The character of Lou Beale is still so entrenched in EastEnders history and, without Anna, the Beale family would never have been the focal point that it is today."

Adam Woodyatt, who plays her grandson, Ian Beale, paid tribute to "a wonderful lady" who put him "completely at ease" when they worked together.

"I have so many fond memories of her, my thoughts are with her family and friends," he said.

June Brown, who plays Dot Cotton, also recalled working on the soap with Wing.

She said: "She was a very generous woman in many ways and an excellent actress who made a script her own, lifting the character off the page and made it quite different from what you'd have expected.

"Anna always thought well of everyone and she loved and enjoyed her children and grandchildren. I was very fond of her indeed and will remember Anna with great affection always."

Wing started her career as an artist's model before gaining a scholarship to the Croydon School of Acting at the age of 21.

After leaving EastEnders, Wing appeared in The Bill, Casualty and most recently, Silent Witness.

In 2009 she received the MBE in recognition of her work in television, film, radio and theatre.

She said at the time: "I wanted to be an actress when I was a little girl and everybody said no, but I did it. I stuck it out and I've done it for 70 years and I'm still working."