Whether they have committed the crime themselves or were the victims of tragic circumstances; all of these soap stars have one thing in common…murder.
Take a look at some of these shocking and heart-wrenching real-life stories of these actors who were caught up in such awful crimes:
4. Leslie Grantham – Committed murder after a struggle broke out
Acting career: Leslie Grantham will forever be remembered as playing the infamous Dirty Den in EastEnders. After initially auditioning for the role of market trader Pete Beale, he was offered the role of Den Watts and became a favourite among fans – as well as being given the nickname “Dirty Den” due to the awful way he treated his wife, Angie.
One of the most famous moments of British TV history occurred on 25th December 1986, when Grantham’s character served his on-screen wife with divorce papers, which was accompanied with the now famous line “Happy Christmas, Ange”.
The episode was watched by a record 30 million viewers, which at the time was over half of the British population.
But while for the early years of EastEnders, Den was arguably the main character of the soap. In 1988, Den sold his pub to Frank Butcher, played by Mike Reid, and gradually drifted out of key storylines until finally departing in February 1989.
After Grantham left EastEnders, he appeared in shows such as The Paradise Club, The Detectives and 99-1.
In 2003, it was announced that Dirty Den would be making a return to the Square.
But he was forced to leave the show after an online scandal left his position in the show pretty much untenable. After the scandal, Grantham released a statement which read, “I am wholeheartedly ashamed of my behaviour and feel that I have let down my colleagues, as well as my friends and family.”
The story: The late Leslie Grantham was 71 years old when he passed away as a result of lung cancer, but the actor took the guilt and torment of the death of a cabbie back in 1966, to his grave.
But, in a rare interview with the Daily Star, Grantham spoke of the incident – the murder of German taxi driver Felix Reese in 1966, which still haunted him.
As a young soldier stationed in Germany, Grantham attempted to rob the taxi driver, and after a struggle, ended up shooting him.
In his statement to the police following his arrest, Grantham said that he did not know the gun was loaded and that it fired accidentally, which would have resulted in a conviction of manslaughter if a jury believed his version of events.
However, at his trial in 1967, he was subsequently convicted of murder and sentenced to life imprisonment. He served his sentence in the UK, because a conviction of this sort would immediately be followed by a dishonourable discharge.
Grantham said of the crime: “It is something that I will have to take to the grave. I know I have to deal with it. I would like to think that I have made a contribution to society since, but I can’t change what happened. I have to live with what I did every day of my life.”
3. Gemma McCluskie – Victim
Gemma McCluskie played the role of Kerry Skinner; Ethel Skinner’s great-niece between 2000-2001 at the age of 17, before going on to work as a barmaid a little later on in life.
The nation was left in disbelief when it was revealed that McCluskie’s own brother had taken her life in the most appalling manner imaginable.
The 29-year-old was last seen by friends at an event party; to mark the opening of a hospital back in March 2012. During the occasion, those in her company reported that she had been left in a rage, after arguing with her brother Tony, who had apparently flooded their home. She was also heard shouting down the phone that she was tired of him using illegal substances and that if he didn’t quit, she would force him out of the property.
Gemma was then reported as ‘missing, but it was Tony himself who contacted the police, whilst their mother lay in hospital with a brain tumour.
Tony then started a campaign for the ‘search’, which captured the attention of Gemma’s former Eastenders co-stars, Natalie Cassidy and Brooke Kinsella.
Yet, it was in fact, Tony who was found guilty of taking his sister’s life and was later sentenced to a life behind bars.
According to The Mirror, a close friend of Gemma admitted that her brother had always had an element of control over her; both mentally and physically.
“She was petrified of him” they said. “He would call her all kinds of awful things.
“She would wear sunglasses because of the black eyes and I saw bruises up her arms. It was like he felt he owned her and he tried to control her.”
“In 2004 we went out and she had black eye and she said Tony did it. When she saw how horrified I was she changed her story and said she had been joking but I knew it was true.
“The way he was with her just wasn’t right. I used to say to her, ‘He’s not your boyfriend, he’s just your brother.’
Tony McCluskie is found guilty of taking his sister’s life…
Gemma was discovered to have been hit over the head, before her remains were cut up and planted in a suitcase which was dumped in a local canal. Hiring a local cab service to transport him there, the driver asked what was contained within his suitcase, but he stated that it was simply a sound system.
Gemma’s remains were discovered weeks later when the case was forced open, but her head was found over six months later in the water.
Their father, Anthony McCluskie announced that Gemma’s passing had had a stressful impact on the family; describing the situation as ‘extremely traumatic’.
He said that Gemma was “small in stature” but was “a huge in personality with a zest for life”, adding that she was “very much loved” and “greatly missed”.
“Good night and God bless Gemma. We all miss you and love you.” he added.
2. Sian Blake – Victim
Acting career : Sian Blake played the character of maneater, Frankie Pierre between 1996-1997; in which she appeared in 56 episodes of the soap.
She also made appearances in other well-known programmes such as The Bill, Casualty and Doctors.
Fans were so caught up in the storyline of the character’s love affair with Carol Jackson’s husband Alan, that the actress received dozens of letters and hate mail on a daily basis. It was almost 20 years later when the nation was shocked to learn how the actress behind the iconic character met a tragic end.
It is unimaginable to think that after a diagnosis of motor neurone disease, Sian’s controlling husband Arthur Simpson-Kent would murder her. She decided that due to her illness and her husband’s domineering personality, the best situation would be to live with her mother. She planned to take the children and sell the house.
The story: Simpson-Kent was originally from Ghana, but met Blake through work. He worked as both a hairdresser and a model, but decided to move to France in 2005. Their relationship was put on hold during this time.
Returning to the UK, the pair moved in together and had two sons; however, it was 10 years later in 2015 when Sian was reported missing on 16th December.
She had visited her mother on 13th December to discuss the prospect of moving in, but Simpson-Kent told police that she had been visiting a friend in Cambridge.
On that same day, Simpson-Kent packed up his belongings and used a friend’s credit card to book a one-way trip back to Ghana. It was over a month later when the bodies of Sian and her two young boys were discovered in the back garden of the family home; wrapped up in plastic and buried in shallow graves.
Sian’s mother, Lindell Blake made a statement on her daughter’s tragic passing: “We live knowing that Sian and the children would have been scared, terrified before that monster slaughtered them in their home, a place they should have felt safe and secure.
“Sian was unable to protect her precious children. Little Zachary fighting back trying to protect his mother, himself or his little brother from his own father. Our nights are now sleepless despite our constant tiredness and extreme sadness which never leaves us.”
1. Brian Regan – Involved in a gangland case
Acting career: Brian Regan played one of the leading characters in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside, Terry Sullivan, from 1982 until 1997.
Terry Sullivan was one of the first actors to make an appearance when the show began back in 1982, and for most of his time on Brookside Close, he was involved in many dramatic storylines, which included the various run-ins with best friend Barry Grant, his wife having an affair, and being suspected of murder, ironically.
The story: The ex-Brookside actor was caught up in the murder of a doorman and was eventually jailed for lying about his involvement with the case, providing a false alibi.
Over the weekend of 27th February 2011, Regan was questioned by the police over the fatal shooting of an Iranian city bouncer, Bahman Faraji, in Liverpool. Regan was charged with murder.
According to a BBC report: “Regan, St Marys Road, Garston, Liverpool, was cleared of murder but convicted of perverting the course of justice after it emerged he lied to police when he was first arrested, telling them he was with his partner Christine Lines at the time of the murder.
“In fact, he was snorting cocaine in a car as father-of-one Mr Faraji was shot dead yards away at close range on the evening of 24 February 2011.
“Regan admitted driving gunman Edward Heffey to and from the hit but told the jury he did not know his passenger was carrying a sawn-off shotgun and was planning to kill Mr Faraji.”
Regan also disposed of a pair of gloves that he was wearing that night.
According to the Liverpool Echo, he was also charged in late March 2011 with two counts of possession with intent to supply a controlled substance and two counts of supplying a controlled substance.
And according to BBC reports, On 25 January 2012, Regan was sentenced to four years and ten months imprisonment for his role in the murder of Bahman Faraji in February 2011.