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Stolen dog Archie back with EastEnders actress after mystery Cricklewood handover

PUBLISHED: 15:31 01 May 2013 | UPDATED: 15:53 01 May 2013

EastEnders actress Shelley King re-united with her beloved pet dog Archie. Picture: Polly Hancock

EastEnders actress Shelley King re-united with her beloved pet dog Archie. Picture: Polly Hancock

Archant

The hunt for a pet dog who was stolen from outside M&S sparking a borough-wide search has ended after he was mysteriously returned to his EastEnders actress owner yesterday.

Archie, who inspired the canine character of Archie in hit children's novel Artichoke Hearts, was stolen from outside Marks & Spencer last week. Picture: Polly HancockArchie, who inspired the canine character of Archie in hit children's novel Artichoke Hearts, was stolen from outside Marks & Spencer last week. Picture: Polly Hancock

A frantic search for missing Norfolk terrier Archie began last week after he was snatched from outside Marks & Spencer while tied to railings.

The 13-year-old dog, who inspired the canine character of Piper in hit children’s novel Artichoke Hearts, is well known to dog walkers on Hampstead Heath and hundreds of flyers were posted on lampposts appealing for his return.

But unexpectedly, Archie was returned to his overjoyed family yesterday.

Owner Shelley King, 57, who lives in Hampstead and whose TV credits include The Bill, Holby City and Silent Witness as well as stage roles at the National Theatre, said: “I was just elated. I promised my partner I would never be unhappy or complain again – about anything at all!

Shelley King handed out hundreds of posters appealing for information about missing pet Archie. Picture: Polly HancockShelley King handed out hundreds of posters appealing for information about missing pet Archie. Picture: Polly Hancock

“He came back on April 30, the same day my father died, which just seemed extraordinary. I was asking my father for help, as you do.”

The police hunt for Archie began last week after he was snatched from outside M&S in Pond Street, South End Green, while his owner shopped inside.

It is believed a woman untied him from railings, picked him up and simply walked off with him.

CCTV images from M&S cameras were obtained by police on Monday, a week after he disappeared. His owner feared it was too late – but a woman called at about 5.15pm yesterday with information about Archie.

“I went straight to Cricklewood where the woman was standing outside this address with two other women,” said Ms King.

“She said at first that she found Archie walking down the street, but then she claimed to have paid £200 for him.”

Archie has lived with the actress and her 49-year-old civil partner, actor and director Trilby James, since his original owner Trilby’s mother, the Hampstead artist and activist Rosie Harrison, died in 2005.

The little dog with big brown eyes and a cute button nose is also known to children nationwide in the fictional guise of canine character Piper in Artichoke Hearts, written by Ms King’s sister-in-law Sita Brahmachari.

“Archie is much more than a dog,” said Ms King. “He’s huge in terms of the emotional commitment and attachment the whole family have for Archie – and maybe also lots of children who have read Artichoke Hearts and know Piper who is a big star in the book.”

Ms King has called for notice boards at entrances and prominent points on Hampstead Heath so owners can publicise lost and stolen pets.

But she does not want to see the person who stole Archie prosecuted.

“I have rung the police and told them what happened, but I don’t want them to prosecute this woman,” she said. “I think she’s not well. I don’t think she’s evil, I think she just needs help in some way.”

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