Stolen dog Archie back with EastEnders actress after mystery Cricklewood handover

Archie, who inspired the canine character of Archie in hit children's novel Artichoke Hearts, was st

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 Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

Pooch was taken outside Marks & Spencer stor in Hampstead

Shelley King has been handing out posters appealing for information about missing pet Archie. Pictur

Shelley King has been handing out posters appealing for information about missing pet Archie. Picture: Polly Hancock - Credit: Polly Hancock

The hunt for a pet dog who was stolen in Hampstead is over after he was returned to his owner in Cricklewood yesterday.

A frantic search for missing Norfolk terrier Archie began last week after he was snatched from Marks & Spencer in Hampstead 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 on Tuesday.


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Owner Shelley King, 57, who lives in Hampstead and whose TV credits include Eastenders, 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!

“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.”

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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 on Tuesday 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.

, as notices are forbidden under heath bylaws. 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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