Sandy Ratcliff

The death has been announced of Sandy Ratcliff, best known for playing Sue Osman in Eastenders.

She had numerous jobs before she took up acting, including waitressing, disc-jockeying and performing as a guitarist in the rock groups Tropical Appetite and Escalator. Her career changed direction at 23, when she made a big impression as a model and was cast as “The face of the ’70s” by royal photographer Lord Snowdon. This later facilitated a move into film. Her first major role was in the Ken Loach BAFTA-nominated film Family Life (1971), in which she played a schizophrenic teenage girl. This was followed by roles in slightly less well-received films including The Final Programme (1973), Yesterday’s Hero (1979) and Hussy (1980) with Helen Mirren. She also appeared in Chris Petit’s British road movie Radio On (1979). Ratcliff subsequently acted in several television productions including Minder, Couples, Play for Today, Target, The Sweeney, Shoestring and Shelley, and on stage in 1981 in the Ray Davies/Kinks musical, Chorus Girls.

She became a household name in 1985, as Sue Osman in the BBC serial EastEnders. She played the long-suffering wife of highly-strung cafe owner and mini-cab boss Ali Osman (Nejdet Salih). During her four years in the series, her character contended with cot death, infidelity and finally insanity. Off-screen Ratcliff was struggling with a publicised heroin addiction, and she was written out of the show in 1989.

Her television appearances after EastEnders were in 1992’s Maigret opposite Michael Gambon, and in the BBC2 productions A Box Of Swan (1990) and Men Of The Month (1994).

In 2010, Ratcliff revealed in an interview with The Sun that she retrained as a counsellor, before retiring. She added that “If you had asked me last year if I wanted to go back to acting I would have said no. I was working too hard then and I felt tired. Now, I would say yes. If anyone needs someone to play a bag lady, I could do that.

Sandy Ratcliff passed away on April 7th 2019, aged 70.

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