Long-time EastEnders character Dr Harold Legg has died in a topical and “beautiful” scene which has moved fans.
The character has appeared on the BBC soap for 34 years, and was gently killed off in a deathbed sequence suffused with politics and romance.
Played by Leonard Fenton, he had come to represent the Jewish post-war community on screen, and Dr Legg became a vehicle to explore anti-Semitic abuse in the series.
Dr Legg’s final storyline revealed how he met his beloved wife battling Black Shirts on the streets of London, and his final moments in the soap moved viewers.
The doctor was revealed to have fallen for his partner Judith in a street battle against fascists, which he said “was our fight, it was everyone’s fight – it still is”.
Dr Legg passed away remembering his first kiss with his wife, and was told to “go and kiss her” by Dot Cotton as she sat by his side.
The poignant scene was met with grief and acclaim by EastEnders fans online, after the character was seen off with Julia’s Theme.
Stephen Patterson wrote on Twitter: “I full on lost it when Dr Legg died. What a beautiful ending for one of the most iconic characters in British television history. Leonard Fenton though… Bravo.”
Darren Hawkins said: “Sleep well Dr Legg you absolute legend. Well done & congrats to everyone at Eastenders for a fantastic episode. Best soap on TV by some distance.”
Bruce Hodder was impressed with the political element of Dr Legg’s death, in a time where anti-Semitism is again making headlines.
He said: “Beautiful work on Antisemitism on EastEnders lately culminating in the death of Dr Legg tonight. Like they say, the price of freedom is eternal vigilance.”
Dr Legg first appeared on EastEnders in 1985 as the local doctor in Walford, and his character has experienced the attention of fascists since his youth. He refused to remarry after a German bomb killed his wife Judith during the war.
The character recently discovered, while planning for his funeral following a cancer diagnosis, anti-Semitic graffiti had been daubed on his parents’ grave.
He then suffered a collapse when a Swastika was painted on his own front door.
Dot was at pains to prepare a bed for Dr Legg as he returned from hospital, and retrieved a DVD from her handbag.
The pair watched a documentary about The Battle Of Cable Street – a skimrish between police, Oswald Mosley’s British Union Of Fascists, and Jewish and other East End residents.
Dot hoped the doctor would catch a glimpse of his late wife in the footage, and Dr Legg died dreaming of the perfect kiss he shared with her, after recounting a tale of how they met amid the violence.
The BBC tweeted following the episode: “Dr Harold Legg. An EastEnders icon from the very first episode. Here’s to Leonard Fenton for his wonderful presence over the decades.”