Veteran comic actress Dame June Whitfield has died aged 93, her agent has confirmed.
The star enjoyed a career stretching back to the 1940s, including roles in the Carry On films and the long-running sitcom Terry And June.
She was made a dame in the 2017 Birthday Honours for her services to drama and entertainment in a career spanning eight decades.
Dame June’s agent said she “passed away peacefully last night”.
The star is also well known for playing the mother of Jennifer Saunders’ character Edina Monsoon in the hit BBC show Absolutely Fabulous.
#JuneWhitfield âs incredible career in British comedy stretched all the way from âHancockâs Half Hourâ to âAbsolutely Fabulousâ. She was always there, always being brilliant. @ferrifrump wrote June one of the funniest lines in television history... https://t.co/zFeBkCgksY— David Walliams HQ (@davidwalliams) December 29, 2018
Dame June also appeared in numerous Radio 4 productions during her career, and played Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.
She was granted an OBE at the 1985 Birthday Honours, and was made a CBE in 1998.
We're sorry to learn that Dame June Whitfield - celebrated for her comic roles in Absolutely Fabulous, Terry and June, and numerous Carry On films - has passed away https://t.co/M21cjY9RX9 pic.twitter.com/ry8Zs4mPcj— BFI (@BFI) December 29, 2018
Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, said: “June Whitfield was the North Star of British comedy.
Her spectacular career is unparalleled in its longevity with seven decades of being a key element in numerous high profile and successful shows.
“She was the go-to female comedy performer of her generation and was always in demand from the cream of British comedy. She led the way for female comedy and we owe her enormous respect.
“Our thoughts go out to family and friends at this sad time.”
So very sad. I once sent a letter to many actors as a budding (I mean desperate) comedy actor to ask for sponsorship for the Edinburgh Festival. Dame June replied. Fifteen years later when I met her she had all my letters and the notes of the show she sponsored. I cried then too. https://t.co/oaGXd7ick4— Miranda Hart (@mermhart) December 29, 2018
Dame June was born in Streatham, south London, in 1925 and was evacuated from the capital during the Second World War.
She graduated from the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art prior to the end of the conflict, and her career in entertainment began in the same decade with West End stage work.
Dame June met her husband Tim Aitchison in the 1950s. The pair went on to have a daughter, Suzy, who followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an actress. She also appeared in a show written by Saunders, Jam And Jerusalem.
Actress and comedian Miranda Hart tweeted to say that Dame June’s death was “so very sad”.
She added: “I once sent a letter to many actors as a budding (I mean desperate) comedy actor to ask for sponsorship for the Edinburgh Festival.
“Dame June replied. Fifteen years later when I met her she had all my letters and the notes of the show she sponsored.
“I cried then too.”
Television producer, Jon Plowman, who worked on episodes of Absolutely Fabulous and the 2016 film version, tweeted to say he was “very sad” to hear that Dame June had died.
He wrote: “There was no-one with more warmth or a better ability to just ‘place’ a line, always an act of utter precision. Hit after hit! Take it from Here Terry and June Absolutely Fabulous over seven decade. A great loss.”
The actress starred in the bawdy comedies Carry On Nurse, Carry On Abroad, Carry On Columbus and Carry On Girls.
Dame June enjoyed a long and varied career, excelling in comic roles before tackling shorter parts – and making numerous guest appearances later in her career.
Those appearances spanned a range of popular British TV shows including Jonathan Creek, Doctor Who, Coronation Street and EastEnders.
Thank you #damejunewhitfield,for teaching me my craft with such grace and dignity.I always wanted you to know how in awe of you I was, however, you were always far too humble to accept my https://t.co/2wc2G3bQ0G were a great source of inspiration to me. Bye-bye Gran.🙏🏻💕— Julia Sawalha (@JuliaSawalha1) December 29, 2018
Julia Salwalha, who played the loving granddaughter to Dame June’s character in Absolutely Fabulous, paid tribute to her friend and teacher.
On Twitter she posted: “Thank you #damejunewhitfield,for teaching me my craft with such grace and dignity.
“I always wanted you to know how in awe of you I was, however, you were always far too humble to accept my adoration. You were a great source of inspiration to me. Bye-bye Gran.”