Vale: June Whitfield

Veteran British actress June Whitfield, best known for Absolutely Fabulous & Carry On movies has died, aged 93.

Her agent said she died peacefully on Friday night.

Often playing the female stooge to some of Britain’s most famous entertainers, she called herself “a comic’s tart”. Among those clamouring to work with her were Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd, Ronnie Barker, Benny Hill, Bob Monkhouse and Tommy Cooper.

First appearing as an uncredited dancer in the 1946 comedy movie Quiet Weekend, Whitfield went on to roles in 137 movies and TV series over a six decade career.

She was the co-lead in the UK sitcom Terry and June that ran from 1979 to 1987 and appeared in The Benny Hill Show,  Bob the Builder, Doctor Who, Coronation Street, Last of the Summer Wine, Midsomer Murders, EastEnders and a 1998 episode of Friends.

But it was as the dotty mother of Edwina Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous that Whitfield found a new audience. It was a role she would play, variously, from 1992 -2016.

Julia Sawalha, who played her strait-laced granddaughter, said Whitfield had been a “great source of inspiration” to her as a young actress but was “far too humble to accept my adoration”.

Joanna Lumley said she was “heartbroken to lose such a darling friend”, who would “always have a most special place in my heart”.

She said she would never forget “her sensational talent, humour and her generosity”.

Jane Horrocks, who played the ditzy character Bubble in the comedy, said her former co-star was a “wonderful lady”, who was “versatile, funny and generous”.

She also continued to appear on radio, voicing Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple for nine years on the BBC. Two days before her death, she gave the BBC what turned out to be her final interview, in which fellow showbusiness veteran David Hamilton visited her at her home to talk about her life and career.

Whitfield was made a Dame for services to drama and entertainment in 2017.

Source: ABC, BBC, Variety

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