Actress Josephine Melville dies backstage at Nottingham Playhouse

Tributes have been pouring in for Josephine Melville, who died while backstage at Nottingham Playhouse following her performance in Nine Night.

Josephine tragically died backstage while she was starring as Maggie in the production which is being co-produced by Leeds Playhouse,.

She received immediate treatment from first aiders at the playhouse as well as a medically qualified member of the audience. Paramedics also quickly arrived at the scene but, sadly, she could not be saved.

A joint statement released by Leeds Playhouse and Nottingham Playhouse said “both theatres are in a state of shock”. They described Josephine as a “truly wonderful and well-loved person, a revered and deeply respected performer, director, producer, archivist and writer.” They added she was “a tremendous Auntie Maggie in Nine Night.” Josephine’s family has been informed.

James Brining, chief executive and artistic director of Leeds Playhouse, said: “We are profoundly saddened by Jo’s passing and add our condolences to her family and loved ones. We were truly honoured to work with her on this wonderful co-production of Nine Night and are doing everything we can to support her family, the company and staff across both theatres.”

All future performances of Nine Night have now been cancelled following the tragedy. Organisers have confirmed they will be in touch with everyone who had booked a ticket.

Josephine played Tessa Parker in EastEnders during the 1980s. She also appeared in the 1987 film Empire State and starred in The Bill, Pie in the Sky and Prime Suspect. In the 2000s, Josephine starred in Little Miss Jocelyn, L8r and Hold the Sunset. This year she completed filming for the new sci-fi thriller Slammer playing Detective Russell.