Degrassi star died five years ago

16:00, Feb 17 2012
Neil Hope
LONELY DEATH: Neil Hope, who played Derek 'Wheels' Wheeler on Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High and Degrassi: The Next Generation has died in 2007.

Mystery surrounds the death of a star of popular high-school drama Degrassi, that went undiscovered for five years.

Canadian media revealed that actor Neil Hope died aged 35, in 2007, of natural causes.

Hope, who played Derek 'Wheels' Wheeler on Degrassi Junior High, Degrassi High and Degrassi: The Next Gen-eration, reportedly died a lonely death in a rooming house, unknown to his family, colleagues or fans.

His last appearance on the television series was in a reunion special in 2003.

Producers and former cast members confirmed Hope's death, according to Canadian news website The Star.

Executive Producer Stephen Stohn took to Twitter to express his sadness.


"We have respected the privacy of the family by not saying anything until now, but our entire team is very emotional about his passing," he wrote.

The child star died alone in a rooming house, his former fiancee, Christina Boulard, told The Canadian Press.

She said Hope's family had spent years trying to find him after hearing rumours he had died but police only confirmed his death last month.

Boulard said she was angered that his death had remained unconfirmed for so long.

Hope, who wore large glasses and had a blond curly mullet on Degrassi, played a troubled teen and in real life, Boulard said he was plagued by his own problems.

"Neil was a very private person," she told The Canadian Press. "He didn't have the best life, there were times when he would go a while without seeing or talking to his family."

The actor was reportedly buried four months after his death.

Fans took to Twitter to share their grief.

"Wheels was the man," one tweet read.

"RIP Wheels (Neil Hope) sad day, I'm a big Degrassi fan," another fan tweeted.

A Facebook page has been set up in Hope's memory.

"I am so sorry. Such a sad shock. My deepest condolences," one post said.

"He was a great actor that will be missed. An important part of my childhood," said another.

The Canadian series was popular with Australian teenagers in the 1980s and perhaps to appeal to the show's local fans, Wheels once donned a Footscray VFL jumper in an early episode, leaving local audiences impressed and bewildered.

-The Age

The Age