Nellie Ellis

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Nellie Ellis
Nellie Ellis.jpg
EastEnders character
Portrayed byElizabeth Kelly
Duration1993–1998, 2000
First appearanceEpisode 928
23 December 1993 (1993-12-23)
Last appearanceEpisode 2003
18 September 2000 (2000-09-18)
Introduced byLeonard Lewis (1993)
John Yorke (2000)
ClassificationFormer; regular

Nellie Ellis is a fictional character from the BBC soap opera EastEnders, played by Elizabeth Kelly.[1] Nellie is introduced as the interfering relative of Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard) in 1993 and appears regularly until 1998. She makes a further appearance in 2000 for the funeral of Ethel Skinner (Gretchen Franklin).


Nellie, the cousin of Lou Beale (Anna Wing), first appears in Walford in December 1993 for the funeral of Pete Beale (Peter Dean). When she falls and breaks her hip the following month, Lou's daughter Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard) lets her stay with her family so she can be cared for until she is better. Not wanting to live alone in Ilford, Nellie emotionally blackmails Pauline and offers her a cash loan; Pauline feels obliged to allow her to move in.[2] Nellie and Ethel Skinner (Gretchen Franklin) often go drinking together but have little in common and usually end up arguing. She befriends her much younger in-law Cindy Beale (Michelle Collins) and cousin David Wicks (Michael French); the latter only begins spending time with her so she will invest money in his car business. She also has a cat named Mandoo, who is found dead under Joe Wicks's (Paul Nicholls) bed.

She is often seen criticising Pauline's husband Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher), who tries in vain to get her to move out. Nellie's husband had left her for a woman named Doreen and because Arthur cheated on Pauline, Nellie resents him. For forty years, Nellie had not divorced George and he had never asked for a divorce. He dies in November 1994 and Nellie attends his funeral, resulting in some conflict with George's daughter. Before Nellie returns to Walford, she and Doreen find closure and she resolves her differences with Arthur. Following this, Nellie decides to move out of the Fowlers' home to give them space to rebuild their marriage. She briefly moves in with fellow pensioner Jules Tavernier (Tommy Eytle), but despite flirtations, the relationship remains platonic. When Jules starts getting back pains from sleeping on his sofa (Nellie has his bed), Nellie attempts to manipulate the Fowlers into letting her return by pretending that she has had various accidents to gain sympathy. This almost works until Pauline's daughter Michelle Fowler (Susan Tully) gets Nellie residence in sheltered accommodation with Ethel, much to Nellie's chagrin. Following this, Nellie shows up occasionally in Walford for visits. She attends Ethel's funeral in 2000 and sends a wreath to Pauline's funeral in 2007 but does not attend.

Creation and development[edit]

Nellie, played by Elizabeth Kelly, was one of two characters introduced by Executive Producer Leonard Lewis in December 1993, the other being David Wicks (Michael French).[3] They were the beginning of an array of new characters introduced to accommodate the advent of EastEnders' screening of three weekly episodes, early in 1994.[3] Nellie was introduced as the relative of Pauline Fowler (Wendy Richard), and made a brief appearance for Pete Beale's (Peter Dean) funeral, before moving to the soap's setting of Albert Square in 1994.[4] Nellie resided with the Fowlers and her primary purpose initially was to antagonise Pauline's husband Arthur Fowler (Bill Treacher).[3][5] Writer Colin Brake has suggested that Arthur found Nellie to be an "interfering old lady", reminiscent of Pauline's deceased mother Lou Beale (Anna Wing) "at her worst".[3]

Nellie has been described as a "pantomime baddie".[6] Her name preceded her in the soap before her initial appearance as she was frequently used as an excuse for Pauline to leave the soap's setting to visit her.[7] Author Kate Lock described Nellie as stingy and an interfering old busybody.[7] She stated, "When stingy Nellie wasn't giving Arthur grief, she was flirting in a button-up sort of way with Jules Tavernier."[7]

On-screen Nellie remained living with the Fowlers until she was rehoused late in 1994. Following this, Nellie appeared sporadically as a semi-regular character until 1998. She and several of the other semi-regular pensioner characters, including Ethel and Jules, were not used throughout the tenure of executive producer Matthew Robinson (1998–2000). However, Nellie returned under executive producer John Yorke for a one-off appearance in September 2000 for Ethel's funeral, which was her last appearance to date.


In 2003, a reporter suggested that the storyline concerning Nellie's problematic rehousing in 1994 was tedious and "was probably then that the nation realised that its favourite soap had finally run out of entertaining and original storylines."[8]


  1. ^ "Tributes to EastEnder Wendy Richard". Scarborough Evening News. 27 February 2009.
  2. ^ "Arthur Fowler.. that was your life". Daily Record. 21 May 1996. Retrieved 2010-04-03.
  3. ^ a b c d Brake, Colin (1995). EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-37057-2.
  4. ^ Munroe, Josephine (1994). The EastEnders Programme Guide. Virgin Books. ISBN 0-86369-825-5.
  5. ^ "Arthur Fowler". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  6. ^ "Features". Daily Mirror. Retrieved 2010-12-14.
  7. ^ a b c Lock, Kate (2000). EastEnders Who's Who. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-55178-X.
  8. ^ "EastEnders gives Daz dirty laundry surprise second public airing". Campaign. 30 March 2003. Retrieved 2010-12-22.