Inside Pauline Quirke's reclusive life on a canal boat with husband Steve after quitting acting to teach performing arts

PAULINE Quirke hit the headlines in recent weeks after an extraordinary row outside a toilet with her Birds of a Feather castmates.

The actress, 61, is no longer speaking to former best pal Linda Robson or Lesley Joseph following several backstage barneys.

Here we take a look at Pauline's life off-camera after catapulting to fame in 1989 in the popular ITV drama, which once attracted 15million viewers a week.

Pauline and Linda have known each other most of their lives since being childhood best friends.

The Londoners met at Islington’s Anna Scher Theatre School in the late 60s and first appeared on TV together in Pauline’s Quirkes in the mid-Seventies.

But the pair became most well known when they teamed up for Birds Of A Feather in the 80s.

The series came to an end in 1998 and was off-air for 16 years until 2014 when it was revived for a full series on ITV.

In between the near-two decade-long break, Pauline starred in hit TV series including Missing, Skins and Broadchurch.

She also played Hazel Rhodes in Emmerdale for two years.

But a dramatic fallout outside the loo at Teddington Studios ended any hope of Pauline returning to Birds of a Feather.

A source close to Linda, 62, said the atmosphere on set between Pauline and the rest of the cast became more hostile as the years passed.

The source said: “The nadir came during one astonishing row at Teddington Studios, culminating in Pauline and Lesley squaring off, noses centimetres apart, outside the women’s loos.

“They were basically pulled apart by stunned crew members.

“Things went rapidly downhill from there.

It meant Pauline was snubbed for last year’s Christmas special, for which Linda and Lesley returned.

The show picked up an impressive 7.9million viewers, despite Pauline's absence.

Despite her hugely successful career, Pauline has admitted suffering from severe stage fright – and has even refused to appear on live television shows.

While Birds of a Feather was off-air, Pauline set up The Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts.

The business opened its doors at various locations across the UK, with Pauline using her fame to help young people get into the industry.

There are now more than 200 academies across the UK.

It was her academy company that was blamed for Pauline not starring in the Christmas special.

Linda, 63, who has played Tracey Stubbs since 1989, attempted to quash rumours of the “irreconcilable feud” – insisting Pauline wanted to step away from the limelight.

She told The Sun on Sunday: “Take no notice of what you’ve heard about me and Pauline falling out. It’s a load of old codswallop.

“Pauline just chose not to do Birds Of A Feather. She wants to concentrate on her acting academy, that’s that."

Two years before the series return, Pauline overhauled her health and fitness routine and lost a whopping three stone.

The star admits she has has fluctuated between a size 28 and 12 over the years, but in 2018 made a bid to shed the pounds for good by cutting out booze and sugar.

Pauline looked happy and healthy as she was seen flashing a smile as she enjoyed a summer stroll this week.

She has kept her private life out of the spotlight, but she's reported to live on a canal boat with her husband Steven Sheen.

The couple have two children together, Emily and Charlie.

Charlie starred as Travis in Birds of a Feather.

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