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William Russell "Ross" Davidson (25 August 1949 – 16 October 2006) was a British actor best known for his role as Andy O'Brien in the BBC soap opera EastEnders.

Ross Davidson
Andy O'Brien.jpg
A publicity photo of Davidson as Andy in EastEnders, 1985
William Russell Davidson

(1949-08-25)25 August 1949
Airdrie, Lanarkshire, Scotland
Died16 October 2006(2006-10-16) (aged 57)
Years active1985–2005
Spouse(s)Elizabeth Ross (1972–1975)
Barbara Black (2005–2006)


Davidson started his working life as a physical education teacher in Scotland in the early 1970s. He also played water polo at international level for Scotland and left teaching to run a pub and disco in Glasgow, but furthered his ambitions to act by attending night classes.

He made his screen acting début on television in A Degree of Uncertainty (1979), a BBC Play for Today set in a Scottish university, then appeared as a kilted dancer in Stanley Baxter on Television (1979). He also had small parts as a mime troupe member in The Comedy of Errors ("BBC Television Shakespeare", 1983) and a photographer in Widows II (1985), as well as appearing in the film The Pirates of Penzance (1983) and the Monty Python short The Crimson Permanent Assurance (1983), made to accompany the group's feature The Meaning of Life. In Spain, the Netherlands and Germany, he was seen in commercials for products ranging from chewing gum to beer.

In 1985, he became one of the original cast of BBC's flagship soap opera EastEnders. He played the altruistic nurse Andy O'Brien for 18 months, after which his screen alter-ego went down in history for being the first main character to be killed off, dying in a road accident in August 1986.

Just before leaving EastEnders, Davidson recorded a pop single, "Jigsaw Puzzle", that failed to chart. He then returned to acting in stage plays (he had previously appeared in Guys and Dolls at the National Theatre) and returned to the small-screen in 1987 as a television presenter. He presented the BBC lunchtime magazine show Daytime Live (1987–88) and the sports challenge series Run the Gauntlet (1989–90).

Davidson later returned to acting and appeared in the Channel 4 soap opera Brookside; the Welsh soap Pobol Y Cwm and also played the role of Peter O'Dell in the Scottish soap Take the High Road for three years. More recently he starred as Andy Morgan in the Channel 4 soap opera Hollyoaks from 1999–2002.

Personal lifeEdit

Davidson's first marriage was to a primary school teacher which ended within three years. He took his ex-wife's maiden name, Ross, as his stage name.[1]

While working on EastEnders, Davidson began a relationship with Shirley Cheriton, who played his on-screen girlfriend Debbie Wilkins. The couple separated after five years. He had a son with his second wife, Barbara Black, before they married in 2005. They lived together in the Essex resort of Frinton-on-Sea. Black had three children from her previous marriage.

In February 2005, Davidson was diagnosed with brain cancer, and swiftly underwent surgery. It was unsuccessful, and a month later he was re-admitted to the Oldchurch Hospital in Romford, where he was told that he had a glioblastoma Grade 4 - the fastest growing, most invasive form of brain cancer.

In July 2005, Davidson went public with the news that his tumour was inoperable and that his life expectancy was 12–18 months.[2] He died 15 months later from the illness.[3]


  1. ^ "Ross Davidson - Obituaries". The Independent. London. 18 October 2006. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  2. ^ "Exclusive: Courage Of Eastender Ross As Cancer Returns". Daily Mirror. 6 July 2005. Retrieved 26 February 2010.
  3. ^ "EastEnders' Ross Davidson loses cancer battle". This is London. Retrieved 26 February 2010.

External linksEdit