The veteran actress Anna Wing, who was known to millions for her role as straight-talking matriarch Lou Beale in EastEnders, has died. She was 98.

Anna Wing appeared in the very first episode of EastEnders in 1985 and went on to star as the take-no-prisoners Lou in 232 episodes in total.

Her career spanned over six decades in television, radio, film and theatre.

A spokesperson for the soap said: "We are deeply saddened to hear that Anna Wing has passed away. From the very first episode of EastEnders, Anna created one of the most iconic matriarchs in television history.

"The character of Lou Beale is still so entrenched in EastEnders history and, without Anna, the Beale family would never have been the focal point that it is today."

The spokesperson added: "Anna will be remembered fondly by everyone at EastEnders and our deepest sympathies are extended to her family and friends."

Paying tribute to "a wonderful lady", Anna Wing's co-star Adam Woodyatt, who plays her grandson, Ian Beale, said: "I worked with Anna on Witches and The Grinnygog before she became my gran in EastEnders.

"I remember one episode in particular - number 16 - we had a seven-page scene for the cliffhanger, Ian pouring his heart out to his gran. It was the first time I had to cry on screen and I was terrified I wouldn't be able to do it.

"Anna was so helpful, happy to rehearse it over and over again and put me completely at ease. Sure enough the tears flowed from nowhere and it was the first time Julia's Theme was used at the end of an episode.

"I have so many fond memories of her; my thoughts are with her family and friends."

June Brown, who plays Dot Branning in the soap, said: "She was a very generous woman in many ways and an excellent actress who made a script her own, lifting the character off the page and made it quite different from what you'd have expected.

"Anna had a true old-fashioned cockney accent like my grandma. I always enjoyed her company and she often asked me to stay with her, saying that I could smoke on the landing!

"Anna always thought well of everyone and she loved and enjoyed her children and grandchildren. I was very fond of her indeed and will remember Anna with great affection always."