Although Sandy Ratcliff's most prominent role as trauma-stricken cafe owner Sue Osman was in the early years of the BBC soap opera EastEnders, her eventful personal life made her fictitious Walford mourning dying.

Born on October 2, 1948 in London, she was a bright but rebellious student who was expelled from school for cannabis smoking at age 14. In her late teens she was a bass guitarist in two rock bands, a radio DJ and a model admired by star photographer Tony Snowdon.

In the early 1980s, Ratcliff became addicted to heroin and spent eight months in prison in 1983 to deliver cannabis. In the tabloid press there was a real feeding frenzy when Ratcliff in 1985 came to EastEnders. This was later reopened through her involvement as a key witness in a murder trial after leaving the soap in 1989.

Ratcliff's first notoriety was played in Family Life, Ken Loach's 1971 movie version of David Mercer's In Two Minds, in which she played a young woman described with schizophrenia in a "memorable performance".

Smaller roles followed in Crossroads (1974), Couples (1976), Caryl Churchill's The After-Dinner Joke (1978) and Tom Kempinski's The Workshop. The latter, an adaptation of Jean-Claude Grumberg's drama, was toured in 1981 and at the Hampstead Theater, directed by Nicolas Kent: Ratcliff was praised for her portrayal of Mimi, a seamstress in a postwar Paris sweatshop.

Rose-Marie Mason's Sunbeams (Soho Poly, 1976), Churchill's Cloud Nine (Liverpool Everyman, 1980), and Hrant Alianak's poorly-received Lucky Strike (ICA, 1981) played Ratcliff alongside several other theatrical roles.

After they left EastEnders, the television opportunities were also scarce: their last appearance was in Rona Munro's 1994 drama "Men of the Month" to see.

In later years, Ratcliff was trained as a counselor after having to deal with her own mental and physical problems.

After surviving three strokes, she was recently diagnosed with cancer and died on 7 April at the age of 70 in her sleep.

She is survived by a son from her relationship with the theater director Terence Palmer.

Obituary: Leslie Grantham – "EastEnders-Star, whose private life was as dramatic as that of Dirty Den"

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