Actor Mona Hammond has died at the age of 91.
The Jamaican-British TV star was best known for portraying Blossom Jackson in the hit BBC soap EastEnders.
Marcus Ryder, the chair of London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts (Rada), confirmed news of Hammond’s death on social media.
“It is with sadness that I wake up to the news Mona Hammond has died,” he wrote. “Among her numerous achievements she co-founded Talawa Theatre Company in 1985.
“She was also a @RADA_London graduate and received an honorary Rada Fellowship in 2019.”
Hammond appeared regularly on EastEnders between1994 and 1997, later reprising the role in 2010.
Born in Jamaica, she moved to the UK in 1959. Besides her time on EastEnders, Hammond also had a prolific career in TV, appearing in programmes including Coronation Street, Doctor Who and Casualty.
One of her best-known roles saw her play Susu in the sitcom Desmond’s from 1990 to 1994. She then repeated the role in the shorter-lived spin-off Porkpie (1995 to 1996).
As well as her many screen appearances, Hammond was also a distinguished stage actor, and was celebrated for co-founding the Talawa Theatre Company, one of the country’s foremost Black theatre groups.
In 2015, Hammond was awarded an OBE by the queen.
Tributes to the actor have poured in on social media following news of her death.
“Mona Hammond, a trailblazer in every way,” wrote ITV presenter Charlene White. “Thank you.”
“RIP Mona Hammond,” wrote radio presenter and journalist Lorraine King. “An extremely talented Jamaican actress who did theatre and TV but will always be Auntie SuSu from Desmond’s to many of us.
“She will be sorely missed. May she sleep peacefully.”