'Eastenders' bids goodbye to beloved Jewish character

'Dr. Legg' honored by UK soap opera for his lifelong battle against antisemitism and bigotry.

A SCENE from Dr. Legg's funeral on 'Eastenders.'  (photo credit: BBC)
A SCENE from Dr. Legg's funeral on 'Eastenders.'
(photo credit: BBC)
The long-running popular British soap opera EastEnders bid farewell to the beloved Jewish character Dr. Legg on Tuesday evening.
Tuesday night’s episode of the show featured Legg’s funeral, which was conducted in a traditional Jewish manner. Volunteers arrived to wash and cleanse his body, his casket was covered with a cloth embroidered with a Star of David, a yahrzeit candle was lit and mourners wore kippot to recite the traditional kaddish prayers.

“When he was young, Dr. Legg fought against hate; against those who hated others just because they were different,” said the character Sonia in her eulogy. “Because to him, people weren’t different, they were just special. He fought against hate at the end of his life as well. And he won that battle too.”
Legg, played by the Jewish actor Leonard Fenton, returned to the show last year almost 20 years after his retirement from the series. The doctor was a fixture on the show since it first premiered in 1985. Although he officially retired in 1999, then he has since returned for several cameos.
In the most recent storyline, Legg visited his parents’ graves only to find them defaced with swastikas and graffiti. He ultimately confronted the culprits and had them apologize for their behavior, but a swastika was later painted on the front door of his home.
The send-off for the character – who died in an episode last week – made a point of his lifelong fight against racism, antisemitism and bigotry. During his deathbed scene, Legg’s friend, Dot, shows him a video from 1936 of clashes between the fascist Blackshirt group in London and a large crowd of Jewish and anti-fascist protesters. According to the show’s storyline, it was during that march that the doctor met his beloved wife, Judith, who was also protesting the antisemitic group.
“It was our fight,” Legg recalled on his deathbed. “It was everybody’s fight. It still is.”