EastEnders and Desmond’s actor Mona Hammond dies aged 91

Mona Hammond, very best identified for taking part in the matriarch of the Jackson clan, Blossom Jackson, in the BBC soap EastEnders, has died aged 91.

A distinguished Jamaican-British phase actor of Chinese descent, Hammond has been hailed as a “pioneer” and “trailblazer” for her function on phase, screen, television and radio, and for her guidance for Black British actors.

Tributes were being paid out pursuing the information of her demise. The chair of the Royal Academy of Remarkable Artwork (Rada), Marcus Ryder, tweeted: “It is with sadness that I wake up to the information Mona Hammond has died.”

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The Free Girls presenter Charlene White tweeted: “Mona Hammond, a trailblazer in every way. Thank you.”

The radio presenter and journalist Lorraine King wrote: “RIP Mona Hammond. An very proficient Jamaican actress who did theatre and Television but will usually be Auntie SuSu from Desmond’s to quite a few of us.

“She will be sorely skipped. Could she slumber peacefully.”

Hammond was designed an OBE in the 2005 Queen’s birthday honours list for her expert services to drama. In 2018, she was awarded the Ladies of the World life time accomplishment award for her theatre career and for championing Black British actors.

The latter award was for her get the job done at the Talawa theatre firm, a single of the UK’s most prominent black theatre providers, which she co-launched as a response to the lack of innovative alternatives for black actors. The business has manufactured a lot more than 80 productions, from African classics to Oscar Wilde.

Mona Hammond on stage in Playboy of the West Indies in 1984, alongside T-Bone WilsonMona Hammond on phase in Playboy of the West Indies in 1984, together with T-Bone Wilson. Photograph: Donald Cooper/Alamy

Born in Jamaica, Hammond, whose actual identify was Mavis Chin, emigrated to the British isles in 1959 on a Jamaican scholarship and worked for Norman & Dawbarn architects.

She attended night classes at the Metropolis Literary Institute in London for two a long time and was awarded a scholarship to Rada.

Graduating in 1964, Hammond began her job on stage and television. Her first major part was as Woman Macbeth at the Roundhouse in London in 1970 in Peter Coe’s African model of the participate in.

She starred in quite a few performs by up-and-coming black writers about the many years and ​​spent two a long time at the Countrywide Theatre. She also appeared in many films like Coriolanus, 10,000 BC, Kinky Boots, Manderlay, and The Everyday living and Dying of Peter Sellers.

Hammond moved into television with roles in shows which include The Sweeney, Juliet Bravo, Holby Metropolis, Coronation Avenue and Casualty.

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A single of her most effective-acknowledged roles was as Auntie Susu in the Channel 4 sitcom Desmond’s from 1990 to 1994. She repeated the part in the shorter-lived spin-off Porkpie from 1995 to 1996.

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Between 1994 and 1997 she was Blossom Jackson in EastEnders, reappearing briefly in 2010 at the funeral of her on-monitor fantastic-grandson, Billie Jackson. Blossom was in point Hammond’s second incarnation in the soap opera: she formerly performed Michelle Fowler’s midwife in 1986.

Hammond also appeared on radio in The Archers, wherever she performed Mabel Thompson, the mom of Alan Franks’s deceased spouse.

She is survived by her son and a granddaughter.