Todd Carty has spoken emotionally about the death of his longtime co-star, Wendy Richard.

The 65-year-old actress, who played EastEnders‘ Pauline Fowler, passed away on Thursday after a long battle with cancer – and screen son Todd says he is struggling to imagine life without her.

“I shall miss her terribly,” he told the Mirror. “She’s been an important part of my life for nearly 20 years and I can hardly bear to think that I’ll never see her again.”

The 45-year-old actor first heard the news of her death after he had finished filming last Thursday, when 16 texts from friends and colleagues arrived on his phone.

“It was just as well we had finished the shoot because I don’t think I would have been able to continue,” he says. “It was a huge shock. I went into a nearby wine bar, ordered a glass of white and raised it to Wendy. I think she would have liked that.”

Todd first met Wendy in 1990, when he joined the cast as her new screen son, Mark, a role he held for 13 years, before quitting the soap in 2003.

“I knew from the start that we would get along,” he said. “From the first day, she watched my back and fought my corner. She quickly became a second mum to me.

“Together with Bill Treacher [Arthur Fowler] and Sue Tully [Michelle Fowler], we had a tight family unit, a solid chemistry, which I hope came across on screen.”

Todd now hopes filming commitments will allow him to attend Wendy’s funeral, and paid tribute to her remarkable career on the small screen:

“I loved her so much. Wendy was a British institution, an incredibly talented actress who quite rightly enjoyed a successful and varied career,” he said.

“But she was also a remarkable, graceful, classy, warm lady. And a fighter – right up until the end. I’ll never forget her.”

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