Kathy Beale in EastEnders was one of the original characters in the BBC soap.
She’s been played by Gillian Taylforth since the very first episode of the show in 1985 until Kathy’s death off-screen in 2000.
Kathy returned to Walford in the 30th anniversary episode in 2015 in a twist that left fans reeling!
And now she’s one of The Six – right in the thick of the drama after those shocking events of Christmas Day!
So who is Kathy Beale, who many times has she been married, how many children does she have, and how exactly did she come back from the dead?
Who is Kathy Beale in EastEnders?
Kathy Beale is the mother of Donna Ludlow, Ian Beale and Ben Mitchell.
She appeared in the soap’s first episode on February 19 1985 and is still on the soap to this day.
She has been the centre of many huge storylines over the years.
How many times has Kathy Beale been married?
Kathy’s first husband was Pete Beale.
She went on to marry Phil Mitchell, Gavin Sullivan, and Rocky Cotton, meaning she’s been married a total of four times.
Kathy Beale in EastEnders – the early days
When EastEnders began in 1985, Kathy was married to Pete Beale, and the couple had a teenage son, Ian. She worked behind the bar in the Queen Vic, alongside her best friend Angie Watts.
Who was Kathy’s daughter, Donna?
Kathy had a troubled past and evil Nick Cotton soon discovered that she’d been raped when she was 14 and had a daughter – Donna – who she’d put up for adoption. Donna later showed up in Walford.
Kathy met her when she began calling Samaritans, where Kathy volunteered, and they later met in person. When Ian – Kathy’s son – and Donna got friendly, Donna spilled the beans about who she really was.
Kathy was shocked and told Donna to leave. Donna was hurt badly and started making life difficult for poor Kathy.
Donna turned to drugs, and tragically overdosed after Kathy rejected her again. Kathy has always struggled with guilt over what happened to her daughter.
When did Kathy marry Phil Mitchell?
Kathy started a romance with Phil Mitchell but he was cheating on her with his brother Grant’s wife Sharon.
At Kathy and Phil’s engagement party Grant played the legendary ‘Sharongate’ tape, revealing the truth about Sharon’s affair with the groom to be.
The fallout of Sharongate saw Sharon and Grant split, the friendship between Kathy and Sharon turn into a feud – that’s still evident today – and Kathy and Phil break up.
But they eventually worked through their differences and married secretly in 1995. Kathy had son Ben.
Though when Ben had meningitis which left him partially deaf, Phil struggled to cope and turned to drink and Kathy’s second marriage broke down.
Kathy in South Africa
Kathy decided to move to South Africa to live with her brother Ted Hills, after a brief affair with Grant Mitchell.
She and Ben left Walford, though Kathy returned for son Ian’s wedding on Millennium eve.
She and Grant rekindled their romance and when Kathy told Phil what had happened between them, it led to a dramatic confrontation between the brothers.
Kathy returned to South Africa where, in 2001, she married Gavin Sullivan, a friend of her brother Ted.
When Kathy and Gavin died in a road accident off-screen in 2006, Ian Beale went to South Africa.
He brought his younger brother Ben back to the Square.
When did Kathy Beale return?
As viewers settled down to watch the live episode of EastEnders celebrating the show’s 30th anniversary in 2015, all eyes were on the reveal of Lucy Beale’s murderer.
But that wasn’t the only surprise in store. In one of the best-kept secrets in soap, it turned out Kathy Beale was alive and well – and ex-husband Phil Mitchell knew that she’d faked her death!
Kathy’s husband Gavin Sullivan was an evil sort, we discovered, and he was controlling his wife.
After Gavin held Kathy, Ben and Phil hostage, he revealed that he was also Sharon’s biological father.
Kathy was at the heart of another dramatic storyline when James Wilmott-Brown returned to Walford and – as boss of Weyland & Co, he attempted to buy up half of Albert Square.
Kathy at Christmas!
Kath’s one of The Six, meaning she was at the centre of the shocking events of Christmas Day 2023.
She was in the pub when Nish arrived and attacked Suki – leading Denise to whack him over the head with a bottle and land him in hospital.
And of course Kathy was also there when Keanu stormed in and tried to strangle Sharon – which led a desperate Linda to stab him.
Since then, Kathy and the rest of The Six have been busy covering up their crimes – literally in the case of dumping concrete on Keanu’s body.
And she’s even thrown estranged husband Rocky under the bus, sending him to jail for the arson attack at the cafe, to make sure he kept quiet about the things he saw on Christmas evening.
How old is Kathy Beale?
She may not look it, but Kathy is 73 years old!
Youthful-looking actress Gillian Taylforth is 68 years old.
Read more: Who’s leaving EastEnders in 2024?
EastEnders usually airs Monday to Thursday at 7.30pm on BBC One
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