So that’s what the grand dame of the airwaves looks like.
It’s June Spencer’s voice that makes her instantly identifiable to her millions of fans. The only remaining member of the original Archers cast, Spencer, 94, has played matriarch Peggy Woolley in the rural radio soap since its pilot episode in 1950.
It’s been a tough old time for Peggy, hasn’t it?
Earlier this month her fictional husband Jack died following a slow decline from Alzheimer’s disease. Since 2011 he had been a ‘silent character’ after, in a tragic case of life imitating art, Arnold Peters, who played Jack, developed Alzheimer’s and passed away last May. Meanwhile, Spencer’s real-life husband also succumbed to dementia and passed away in 2001.
How did listeners respond?
The depiction has won plaudits from fans of the show and professionals in the field who have praised the show for helping bring the disease into the spotlight.
Has Spencer’s characterisation of Peggy resonated with listeners?
Very much so. Last night BBC director-general Tony Hall presented her with a lifetime achievement award.
The compliments came in thick and fast. The Archers editor Sean O’Connor said: “At 94, absolutely nothing fazes her… It’s a testament to her that these episodes have managed to move listeners so profoundly.”