Comic actress June Whitefield dead at 93

Dame June Whitfield, seen in 2016, has died at the age of 93.
Dame June Whitfield, seen in 2016, has died at the age of 93.

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 on Saturday 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.

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.

Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, called her "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.

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."

Actress Julia Sawalha, who played Dame June's straight-laced granddaughter Saffy in Absolutely Fabulous, said: "Thank you Dame June Whitfield,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."

Australian Associated Press