Although Soapland has experienced its fair share of catastrophes throughout the years, its actors have also been involved in several terrifying occurrences.
Viewers are given a glimpse into what it is like to lose a young loved one from the point of view of adored soap characters as operas like Coronation Street deal with the awful realities of a child’s death with the passing of young Oliver Battersby.
However, there have also been a number of tragic deaths among the cast members in real life, including those of the child actors who left us far too soon.
The Daily Star looks back at the terrible past of its young performers, which haunts Soapland in real life, to commemorate eight years since the passing of Harry Whittaker, a child actor from Emmerdale.
We look at the young soap performers who passed away too soon, from a horrifying fire that killed a 3-year-old to one teen actor’s suicide.
Harry Whittaker – Leo Goskirk
Between 2011 and 2014, Harry Whittaker played Leo Goskirk, the son of Marlon and Rhona, in the ITV Dales; he initially costarred with young Theo Tasker until taking over as the show’s lone performer in 2012.
Harry, who had Down syndrome, left the actors of the soap opera inconsolable after passing away from a severe lung infection.
The three-year-old was also the late nephew of Doctor Who actress Jodie Whittaker, who sang a song for Children In Need 2020 with a dedication to her late nephew.
As she sang the Coldplay song A Sky Full of Stars as tears started to rain, Jodie complimented Harry’s “short, wonderful life” and revealed that the song had been played during his funeral.
Mark Charnock, who plays Marlon in Emmerdale, and Zoe Henry, who plays Rhona, both paid respect to the young person. Mark wrote in 2021: “Thinking of this little Spider-Man today on what would have been his 10th birthday.
“Reflecting on his contagious laughter and the happiness he provided to everyone he met. I’m lovingly remembering our prince Harry and having fun thoughts about him.
The homage was accompanied by a sweet photo of Harry dressed as Spider-Man.
Just ten days after his passing, Harry made his farewell appearance as Leo on the soap opera. ITV paid him respect during the credits with the caption, “For Harry, with love.”
Harvey Rogerson is currently stepping into the role of Leo.
Sophie Firth – Angelica King
In 2009, when she was a young child, actress Sophie Firth played Emmerdale’s Angelica King for three months.
However, the toddler’s life was tragically cut short at the age of three when her frock caught fire at her grandmother’s house in Doncaster.
According to reports, Sophie leaned over the gas fireplace in the home, and her clothes caught fire.
Sophie was severely hurt, with burns covering 70% of her body, despite her mother Amy Harhoff’s best efforts to smother them.
Sadly, she passed away nine days after being brought to Sheffield Children’s Hospital’s burns unit.
At the time, Sophie’s uncle Mick Harhoff remarked, “Sophie was such a wonderful little child and she was incredibly smart. She frequently expressed her desire to become a princess.
“You do anticipate the possibility of burying your parents one day, but you never anticipate burying a child.”
Within a week of her passing, the kid would have been the lead in her school’s nativity play.
At the time, Nicola Wheeler, who plays Nicola King in Emmerdale, wrote on Twitter in memory of the infant toddler: “R.I.P. Sophie Firth.
Thank you for your thoughtful remarks and sympathies; kindly forward them to @RachBoggon as well so Sophie’s family can read them.
Dean Worswick – Warren Shipley
Dean Worswick, a star of Coronation Street, was only 15 years old when he was discovered hanging, having been denied permission to go to his school prom.
In addition to appearing in shows like Shameless and Clocking Off, the celebrity had played Warren Shipley for two months in the ITV soap opera.
Three days prior to the prom, which he had been informed he couldn’t attend after being caught acting truant from school, he was discovered hanging from a tree by a guy walking his dog in the early morning hours of March 2004.
Dean did not agree with his penalty, it was revealed at the inquest into his death, as he had already reserved a limousine and rented a dinner jacket.
Before he passed away, he texted his friends. His mother Gail testified at the inquest that she wasn’t sure if this was a cry for help because her son had never experienced depression.
“I don’t know if he was attempting to make himself stand out or if he was trying to do it,” the speaker said.
Coroner Jennifer Leeming entered an open finding: “I’m not confident Dean fully understood or valued the repercussions of what he did.
“The messages’ tones fluctuated between his intention to take action seriously and other quite commonplace statements.
“I’m not convinced that his mental state was such that he meant to take his life,” the author said.
Leah King – Sarah Platt
Despite the fact that Tina O’Brien is best known for playing Sarah Platt on Coronation Street, the part didn’t actually start with her.
Leah and Lynsay King performed her part from February 1987, when she was just a newborn, through April of that same year.
But tragically, Leah died at the age of six months from cot death, and her sister Lynsay took over the part until 1999.
Helen Worth, who played Gail Platt on Coronation Street, attended Leah’s funeral at Manchester’s Butler Street Methodist Church.
Lynsay, her sister, acknowledged that growing older on the soap opera wasn’t simple because it required missing school to film and learn lines.
She said in a 2012 interview with The Mirror that she had the reading ability of a nine-year-old, adding, “I’ve lately discovered I have dyslexia as well, which probably didn’t help either.”
She continued, “I’m not sure if she realized who I was, but neither of us said anything. We ran into Tina O’Brien when filming the Corrie documentary The Kids From Coronation Street. Oh hello! just didn’t feel appropriate. You are the one who stepped into my position.