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Sara Coward wants 'it to be over quickly' after terminal cancer diagnosis

The Archers actor Sara Coward has said she would prefer her life to be "over quickly" after she was diagnosed with terminal cancer.

After being given three months to live in September, the 68-year-old actor, who has played long-running character Caroline Sterling on the BBC radio show for almost 40 years, said she had "no interest in being remembered" but would not like to see her character written out of the show.

Speaking to the Radio Times from her palliative care home in Leamington Spa, she said: "I would prefer it to be over quickly.

"The first they (her BBC colleagues) knew was when I sent them an email in October. I don't know what they're going to do with the character but I do hope they don't write her out.

"I'd like them to find someone else to play her."

Coward was diagnosed with the inoperable disease last year when she found a lump on her neck and swelling in her right arm, shortly after recovering from breast cancer and a mastectomy.

Her focus now, she revealed, is to leave the world "a kinder place" and she recently launched a social media campaign urging people to smile at each other more.

She started Sm:)e from a hospice in Warwickshire after receiving "huge kindness" from people around her.

"I just want the world I'm leaving to be a kinder place," she told the magazine.

"What's the smallest, easiest, cheapest thing you can do to improve someone else's day?' It's a smile, don't you think?

"We worked out that it would take 2.5 million people standing shoulder to shoulder to form a line 1,000 miles long ... so we are asking for 1,000 miles of smiles."

As well as her regular role on the much-loved Radio 4 programme since 1979, Coward is a writer, stage actor and spent eight years working for the Samaritans charity in Stratford-upon-Avon.

She revealed that the proudest moment in her career was holding her audience through an IRA bomb attack in the West End as she performed with Dorothy Tutin.

"We just looked at each other, our eyes opened a little wider and neither of us dropped a beat," she said.

"We held the audience for another ten minutes - I'm rather proud of that."

:: Read the full interview in this week's Radio Times.

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