Sal Martin in 2011
|Portrayed by||Anna Karen|
|Duration||1996–98, 2001–04, 2007–11, 2013|
|First appearance||21 March 1996|
|Last appearance||26 November 2013|
|Introduced by||Corinne Hollingworth (1996)
Jane Harris (1997)
John Yorke (2001)
Louise Berridge (2003)
Diederick Santer (2007)
Bryan Kirkwood (2010)
Lorraine Newman (2013)
Sally "Sal" Martin, often referred to as Aunt Sal, is a recurring fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Anna Karen  from 21 March 1996 until 8 January 1998, then from 28 September 2001 until 17 September 2004, then from 19 July 2007 until 4 April 2011, and then from 22 November 2013 onwards. She has appeared sporadically over the years, usually for only one or two episodes at a time, and has collectively featured in 44 episodes of the show to date as of 26 November 2013.
Sal is the older sister of Peggy Mitchell (Barbara Windsor) and usually appears at Mitchell family occasions or when she's had a row with her husband. Sal is a heavy smoker and when visiting her sister, enjoys parking herself at the end of the bar with her cigarette (that is, until the smoking ban, when she would just go upstairs). Peggy also goes to stay with her when she needs somewhere to rest. She is married to downtrodden Harold, and mentions a son in January 1997 and a daughter to Peggy at Grant and Tiffany's wedding blessing ceremony. She also mentions in 1997 that she ran a pub.
Her first appearance is at Peggy's 54th birthday party in 1996. This also coincides with the birth of Sal's great nephew, Ben (Matthew Silver). She appears again in January 1997 to support Peggy through her breast cancer, and then again at Grant (Ross Kemp) and Tiffany Mitchell's (Martine McCutcheon) blessing where she stands in for Peggy in August 1997. Sal comes to stay with the Mitchell family for Christmas 1997. During her visit she takes baby Courtney Mitchell for a walk and leaves her outside the café in her pram. Whilst Sal is inside, Courtney is taken, causing everyone to panic. She is later found being looked after by Bianca Butcher (Patsy Palmer), Tiffany's best friend. Other appearances include Peggy and Harry Slater's (Michael Elphick) engagement party in 2001, Louise Fowler's naming party in October 2002, Jamie Mitchell's (Jack Ryder) funeral in January 2003, and Sam Mitchell's (Kim Medcalf) wedding in September 2004.
She returns in July 2007 for Phil's (Steve McFadden) wedding to Stella Crawford (Sophie Thompson) and portentously notes that Stella would never be a Mitchell. She also returns when Peggy throws her a birthday party on 17 December 2007 and again on Christmas Day 2007 when she drunkenly infuriates Phil. On July 8, 2008 she returns again to keep an eye on Billy (Perry Fenwick) and Honey (Emma Barton) whilst they look after The Queen Vic as Peggy is away.
She makes another appearance on August 14, 2008 for Peggy and Archie's (Larry Lamb) engagement party. Sal straight away speaks her mind about Archie, not knowing that he is next to her. She spends Christmas Eve 2008 with Peggy, complaining about the price of her taxi and joking about Jean Slater's (Gillian Wright) health condition. She is next seen on March 2, 2009 when Janine Butcher (Charlie Brooks) invited her to dinner. Janine gets her drunk before extracting information about Peggy's past, so she can use something to humiliate Peggy. Sal reveals to Janine that she and her sister, Peggy were involved in pole dancing for the gangland in the sixties. Janine couriers a huge photo of Peggy pole-dancing to ruin her political campaign. Peggy is humiliated and everyone finds out about her past.
Sal attends Peggy's Hen Night later in the month and following Peggy's wedding to Archie in April 2009 and the startling revelations that follow, Sal takes Peggy back to her home with her to escape Archie. Peggy returns home the following week but after feeling let down by Phil who wont kill Archie, she goes away on holiday with Sal to the Bahamas. She returns again in June and attends a meal at Ronnie's (Samantha Womack) with Peggy. They snoop around and find an engagement ring.
On 17 December 2009, she arrives at The Queen Victoria as it is her 70th birthday. Everyone forgot, but the family tell her of a special lunch in her honour in the community centre, which is actually a Christmas lunch event to try to raise money for the debt-stricken Mitchells. She complains about the food and tels another diner she hopes there will be entertainment. She guesses that Ronnie is pregnant and Roxy Mitchell (Rita Simons) tells her about the Mitchells' debt problems. When the diners demand entertainment, she helps out by performing her fire eating routine. She later lets slip that Ronnie is pregnant.
Peggy invites Sal to a family dinner in August 2010, but Sal insults all of Peggy's children and grandchildren, leading them to argue and so Peggy throws her sister out. On 11 November, she arrives uninvited for Ronnie and Jack Branning's (Scott Maslen) wedding. In April 2011, Ronnie goes missing after she becomes depressed. Sal rings Roxy to let her know that Ronnie is with her. Sal appears when Roxy and Jack come to talk to Ronnie and take her home.
Sal returns again in November 2013 when she turns up uninvited for Roxy's hen party before her wedding to Alfie Moon (Shane Ritchie). Sal rudely expresses her doubts about Alfie, and marriage in general, stating that women in the Mitchell family are cursed when it comes to love. She then attends the wedding.
Creation and development
|This section requires expansion. (October 2011)|
In February 1996, it was announced that comedy actress Anna Karen would be joining the cast of EastEnders as Peggy Mitchell's sister Sal. Anna Karen and the actress who plays Peggy, Barbara Windsor, are "best friends" in reality and Windsor has expressed how happy she was to have Karen on the cast of EastEnders.
Producers decided to hire Karen after Michael French, who played "romeo" David Wicks decided to quit. They reportedly failed to lure back June Brown, who played Dot Cotton between 1985 and 1993 (although they were successful in doing so a year later). They asked Karen to audition and decided she "was just the ticket".
Commenting on her casting, Karen said, "It's great to be back on the box and a real treat to be working alongside my old mate [Barbara Windsor]."
Kate Lock brands Sal as "Peggy's blabbermouth sister" and "She has a hide thicker than Peggy's, a penchant for interfering and a tendency to become loud and hideously embarrassing after a couple of drinks".
- "Bosom pals for 30 years". The Mirror. 16 March 2002. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- "Me and My Trolley ...with Anna Karen". The People. 19 January 1997. Retrieved 2 October 2008.
- Director: Michael Owen Morris; Executive Producer: Lorraine Newman; Writer: Matt Evans (22 November 2013). "Episode dated 22/11/2013". EastEnders. BBC. BBC One. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03jb20p.
- "Thursday 23 January 1997", walford.net. URL last accessed 2008-09-21.
- "Asthma Campaign - Actors and authors put weight behind the". The Independent. 31 March 2002. Retrieved 2008-10-02.[dead link]
- "TAKE A BUTCHER'S AT BABS". The People. 3 February 1996. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- "EastEnder Olive". The Mirror. 13 February 1996. Retrieved 2008-10-02.
- Lock, Kate (2000). EastEnders Who's Who. BBC Books. p. 27. ISBN 0-563-55178-X.