Pauline Quirke and Linda Robson were as close as two friends could possibly be and claimed to have never even had an argument.
But their remarkable friendship has reportedly turned sour after a huge falling out – allegedly leading to an ‘irreconcilable rift’
Having gone to the same primary school, they started taking acting classes at a theatre school and became pals at the tender age of 10.
When asked how long they had known each other on Loose Women in 2016, Linda replied: “Practically from the womb.”
In a later interview, she added: “We were known as the real kids, or the cockney kids off the street. We’ve both been really good friends, and we’re still working 52 years later.”
They made their first regular TV appearance together in Pauline’s Quirkes, but they shot to fame together in Birds of a Feather in 1989.
Their closeness made them a natural fit to play sisters Sharon Theodopolopodous and Tracey Stubbs in the hit 90s comedy which has been rebooted in recent years.
The pair played two siblings who moved in together after their husbands were jailed for armed robbery – and their bond in real life was just as close.
While on tour, the double act got ready together in shared dressings rooms, slept in the same rooms and shared apartments.
When asked if they had ever had a row back in 2016, Linda insisted they had never fallen out over half a century of friendship.
“You know when you just know each other so well. You know if one of you is premenstrual or menopausal or whatever,” explained Linda.
However, not afraid to criticise each other, Pauline did confess that Linda is known to have a bit of a ‘potty mouth’.
“She’s got no filter bless her. The thing with Linda is she basically will say what the rest of us think,” admitted Pauline.
“But you know you have something that… [gestures zipping up mouth]. She doesn’t have that.”
Back in 2019, Linda was left in tears live on Loose Women when Pauline paid tribute to her friend ahead of her 60th birthday.
“We’ve been friends for 55 years, which is amazing because I’m only 38,” joked Pauline via a video link from Lanzarote.
However, there was a third person in their friendship – their Birds of a Feather co-star Lesley Joseph.
The actress, who plays the sisters’ man-eating neighbour Dorien Green in the sitcom, first met the pair in 1989 before filming the first episodes.
“My first memory of Linda was going to the Ritz to meet Pauline and her. Pauline was wearing trainers and asked for water in her champagne,” said Lesley on Loose Women in 2019.
“And I was terrified because you’d known each other all your lives and I was coming in but from that day on wards, we’ve got on like a house on fire.
“And the one thing that keeps this show going is the chemistry and for some reason it was made.”
The series initially came to an end on the BBC in 1998, but the show was revived on ITV in 2014.
During that time, the ladies all remained friends, with Linda and Lesley forming a very close bond.
While 75-year-old Lesley was stuck inside during lockdown, Linda would bring her friend supplies and chat up to her balcony.
“We’ve been through so much together,” explained Lesley on Loose Women in June last year when asked about the secret ingredient to their great friendship.
“Up, downs, divorces, relationship failures, everything. Through thick and thin. Linda is one hell of an incredible person. She’s so embedded in your friendship.
“Once you have friendship with Linda that’s it for life.”
This close friendship is reportedly what caused a rift between Linda and Pauline, who is set to have quit the Birds of a Feather reboot following a ‘huge row’ with her best friend.
Insiders have revealed that a secret rift between the pair was the real reason behind Pauline opting not to take part in the 30th anniversary of the show in 2019.
Pauline was then allegedly ‘not asked’ to join the 2020 Christmas special, with her character’s absence explained with the excuse of “stuck on a COVID cruise”.
“Both Linda and Lesley were saddened that Pauline didn’t want to return to make a 30th anniversary episode. Linda and Pauline used to be very close, less so Pauline and Lesley,” a friend told the Mail on Sunday :
“I think Pauline resented the attention that Lesley got and it was very tense and difficult to navigate at times.
“Pauline wasn’t approached about the Christmas special. The atmosphere on the set had previously become difficult, there were real and tense issues.”
Mirror Online has contacted representatives for Linda, Pauline and ITV for comment.
While Pauline was not involved in the show, her real life son Charlie, who plays Tracey’s son Travis Stubbs, did continue to appear.
An ITV spokesperson said at the time: “Unfortunately, Pauline Quirke will not be taking part as she’s stepping back from acting to focus on her 200 nationwide performing arts academies.”