Michael Leader

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Michael Leader
grey-haired man in a padded coat
Michael Leader in EastEnders
Born12 September 1938
Died22 August 2016(2016-08-22) (aged 77)
Known for
  • Star Wars (1977) — the "clumsy stormtrooper" (disputed)
  • EastEnders (1985–2016) — Michael the milkman

Michael Leader (12 September 1938 – 22 August 2016)[1][2] was an English actor known for his roles in the British television programmes, notably the soap opera EastEnders, and for a minor part in the 1977 film Star Wars.


Leader was born in Hackney, London, in 1938.[3] He was the son of the jazz band leader Harry Leader.[4]

Michael was married to a Dutch woman and became father of one daughter in 1975.[citation needed]

In his spare time, he liked to be around in the Leyton Orient F.C. Stadium, as he was a fan of the team.[citation needed]


Leader had a number of minor parts and appeared as an extra in a range of television programmes.

His debut film appearance was a minor role as an imperial stormtrooper in the original Star Wars film (1977). Although only on-screen for a matter of seconds, Leader's appearance has attracted particular interest in Star Wars fan culture as he has claimed to be the stormtrooper who bangs his helmeted head on a door frame in a scene on board the Death Star. This was a blooper which was overlooked during editing and has remained part of the film ever since.[5] A rival claim to the part of the "clumsy stormtrooper" has been made by fellow actor Laurie Goode, who has stated that it was he who bumped his head in the scene, not Leader.[6]

Leader's most substantial role was a recurring part as Michael the milkman in the BBC soap opera EastEnders, a part he played since its first episode in 1985. The role was not a speaking part for 16 years, until Leader had his first line on the show, "Is this yours, Squire?", as he brought a drunken Kat Slater (Jessie Wallace) to Charlie Slater (Derek Martin).[7]

Leader also had minor appearances in the television programmes Doctor Who, Red Dwarf, and Keeping Up Appearances.[8]

Leader died on 22 August 2016.[8]


As actor[edit]

Year Title Notes
1977 Star Wars Film; uncredited
1980 Blake's 7 Television series
1980–83 Doctor Who "The Leisure Hive" (1980); "The Visitation" (1982); "The King's Demons" (1983); "Mawdryn Undead" (1983)[4]
1985–2016 EastEnders Television series
1991 Keeping Up Appearances Television series
1992 Red Dwarf Television series
2008 Harry Hill's TV Burp Television series


  1. ^ Keast-Marriott, Andy (25 August 2016). "Michael Leader 1938-2016". Doctor Who News. Retrieved 10 September 2016.
  2. ^ McGrath, Rachel (24 August 2016). "Michael Leader Dead: 'EastEnders' Team Pay Tribute Pay Tribute As Actor Who Played Milkman Dies". The Huffington Post UK. Retrieved 9 September 2016.
  3. ^ Lentz III, Harris M. (2017). Obituaries in the Performing Arts, 2016. McFarland. pp. 235–6. ISBN 9781476670317. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  4. ^ a b Keast-Marriott, Andy. "Michael Leader 1938-2016". Doctor Who News. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  5. ^ Cooper, Gael Fashingbauer (26 August 2016). "Stormtrooper who bonked head in original Star Wars movie has died". CNET. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  6. ^ Parker, Ryan. "'Star Wars' Head-Banging Stormtrooper Explains the Classic Blunder". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  7. ^ Harp, Justin (14 September 2016). "EastEnders pays tribute to Michael the milkman". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on 5 July 2018. Retrieved 5 July 2018.
  8. ^ a b Lindsay, Duncan (24 August 2016). "Cast pay tribute as EastEnders and Star Wars actor Michael Leader dies". Metro UK. Retrieved 10 September 2016.

External links[edit]