Actress and comedy legend June Whitfield
has died at the age of 93.
June Whitfield made an enormous contribution to British comedy with a career stretching over 70 years. Her single appearance in Doctor Who came in 2009 in The End of Time
, when, at the age of 84, She played Minne Hopper, a member of the silver cloak tracking down the Tenth Doctor.
June Whitfield was born in Streatham, London, in 1925. Her first stage appearance was at the age of three at Robinson's Dance Studio. After studying to be a secretary she enroled at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, graduating in 1944.
Whitfield began her career in radio in the 1940s appearing with Wilfred Pickles
. In 1951, she had her first credited television role in The Passing Show
, and she joined the London cast of the musical South Pacific
In 1953 she had her big break joining the radio comedy series Take it from Here
, starring Jimmy Edward
s and Dick Bentley
. She played Eth, fiancée of the dim Ron Glum and earned a place in the nation's heart.
For the next 15 years, Whitfield had many supporting roles on television, including in Dixon of Dock Green, Arthur's Treasured Volumes, The Arthur Askey Show, Faces of Jim, The Benny Hill Show, Steptoe and Son
and Frankie Howerd
. She had a place in one of the greatest comedy skits of all time, playing the Nurse to Tony Hancock
's Blood Donor.
In 1959 she made the first of her four appearances in the Carry On film
The 1960s saw her as a leading lady with regular parts in a succession of television comedy series. Beggar My Neighbour
ran for four years before Whitfield teamed up with Terry Scott
in Scott On...
. The partnership was so successful that the two worked together for the next ten years with many viewers assuming they were actually married. A Comedy Playhouse sitcom pilot called Happy Ever After
developed into a series running for five years. The couple then appeared together in the Terry and June
which ran for 65 episodes.
After appearing an episode of French and Saunders
in 1988, Whitfield was asked to play Jennifer Saunders
Mother in the sitcom Absolutely Fabulous
a role that introduced her to a new generation of fans.
From 1984 until 2001, she was a regular on the Radio 2 satire programme The News Huddlines
. From 1993 to 2001, she played Miss Marple in 12 radio adaptations of Agatha Christie's Miss Marple books
Work continued into her ninth decade with appearances in Coronation Street
. In 2013, Whitfield became the inaugural recipient of the Aardman Slapstick Comedy Legend Award
, a recognition of her lifetime's contribution to the world of comedy.
June Whitfield was appointed a Dame in the 2017 Queens Birthday Honours.
Jon Plowman produced the first four series of Absolutely Fabulous for the BBC. He paid tribute to the actress
Very sad at the news of the death of the wonderful June Whitfield. 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
June Whitfield died peacefully in her sleep early on Saturday morning. She is survived by her daughter Suzy.