Anna Karen

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Not to be confused with Anna Karen Morrow.
Anna Karen
Born (1936-09-19) 19 September 1936 (age 79)
Durban, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa
Occupation Actress
Years active 1959–present
Television On the Buses (1969–1973)
The Rag Trade (1977–1978)
EastEnders (1996–Present
Spouse(s) Terry Duggan (1967–2008)
(his death)
Children Gloria Duggan (adopted)

Anna Karen (born 19 September 1936) is a South African-born English film, television and theatre actress. A regular in soaps and comedy, her best-known roles are in the sitcoms On the Buses and The Rag Trade. She has also appeared in BBC TV's EastEnders from 1996 on a recurring basis as Sal Martin.


Early in her career, Anna Karen worked as a striptease dancer at London's Panama Club. She has appeared in many films and television programmes, including the BBC sitcom Wild, Wild Women, between 1968 and 1969. That same year she played a schoolgirl in the bikini-flying scene in the film Carry On Camping (even though she was 32 years old). In both these roles she acted with Barbara Windsor (herself a 31-year-old "schoolgirl" in the film).

Karen is best remembered for her role in the LWT sitcom On the Buses (1969–73). In this series, Karen played Olive, the dowdy bespectacled younger sister of Stan (Reg Varney), and wife of Arthur Rudge (Michael Robbins). She also appeared in the film spin-offs, On the Buses (1971), Mutiny on the Buses (1972), and Holiday on the Buses (1973). From 1977 to 1978, Karen reprised the role of Olive in the LWT revival of the sitcom The Rag Trade created by the same writers.

Her other film credits included roles in The Sandwich Man (1966), Poor Cow (1967), Carry On Loving (1970), What's Up Nurse! (1977) and Flick (2008). In 1996, Karen played a supporting role in the film Beautiful Thing, as a neighbour of the main characters, Ste and Jamie. A year later, Karen reunited with Barbara Windsor, this time in the BBC soap opera EastEnders. Karen plays Sal Martin, the sister of Windsor's Peggy Mitchell. Although Karen has never been a permanent cast member in the soap, she continues to appear as 'Aunt' Sal Martin occasionally, usually for only one or two episodes at a time.

In 2006, Anna Karen used her experience as a striptease dancer to act as a judge in the final edition of Channel 4's reality television documentary Faking It. In 2008, Karen was a guest on the Channel 4's Sunday Night Project, again with Barbara Windsor.

Karen has also been a regular in pantomimes over the years, and played the Wicked Stepmother in Cinderella at the Millfield Theatre, in Edmonton, London at Christmas 2008.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Anna Karen left South Africa at the age of 16, having broken the strict Apartheid laws by visiting the sick daughter of a black stage manager whilst she was on tour with the South African National Theatre.[2]. She now lives in Essex, and was married to actor/comedian Terry Duggan until he died in 2008. Their daughter Gloria was Duggan's adopted daughter from his previous marriage to Pat Lyons.[3][4] Karen teaches drama at Brewers Academy, based in Hornchurch, Essex.

In January 2016, Anna had a fall in her Ilford home and was sofa bound for eight weeks to recover. She still filmed scenes for Peggy's death in EastEnders in March 2016 and in May 2016 when the scenes aired Anna was seen with a walking frame. Anna was also pictured filming Peggy's funeral scenes in a wheelchair.

Television roles[edit]

Years Title Role
1969–1973 On the Buses Olive Rudge
1977–1978 The Rag Trade Olive
1996– EastEnders Sal Martin


Nudist Memories (1961) as Anne (uncredited)

The Sandwich Man (1966) as Lady with dog

Poor Cow (1967) as Neighbour

Carry On Camping (1969) as Hefty Girl

Carry On Loving (1970) as Wife

On The Buses (film) (1971) as Olive

Mutiny on the Buses (1972) as Olive

The Affair (1973) as Willa

Holiday on the Buses (1973) as Olive

What's Up Nurse? (1978) as Knitter

Beautiful Thing (1996) as Marlene

The Second Quest (2004) as Sally

Together Alone (2005) as Mrs Golding

Flick (2008) as Rita Ray

No Reasons (2016) as Yvonne

Nearly New (2016) as Joan


  1. ^ "Christmas pantos" (pdf). Our Enfield. p. 34. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  2. ^ Rackham, Rob (2016). On The Buses: A Personal View of a Television Classic. Blurb. p. 50. ISBN 1367910250. 
  3. ^ Newley, Patrick; Ellacott, Nigel (23 June 2008). "Terry Duggan". The Stage. Retrieved 2009-08-09. 
  4. ^ Fansite

External links[edit]