Body found in hunt for TV make-up artist

Detectives investigating the disappearance of a missing award-winning TV make-up artist were today probing the discovery of a body in woodland.

A woman walking her dog discovered the decomposed corpse off Worth Lane, Little Horsted, near Uckfield, East Sussex, just before 10am.

The body has not been identified and investigations are continuing at the scene.

Diane Chenery-Wickens 48, who worked on shows including Dead Ringers, The League Of Gentlemen and Casualty, was reported missing by her husband, David, 51, on January 24 after she failed to attend a meeting at the BBC.

Mr Chenery-Wickens, from Duddleswell, near Uckfield, was later arrested on suspicion of her murder and freed on police bail.

He had his bail extended last month until 30 May pending further police investigations.

A Sussex Police spokesman said: "While the potential link with the Diane Chenery-Wickens case is one obvious line of inquiry, we need to keep an open mind until formal identification and investigations at the scene have been conducted."

The body, which was clothed, was heavily decomposed but appeared to be a woman. It was discovered concealed in undergrowth about 10 yards from the lane, police revealed.

The police spokesman added: "There will be a significant amount of investigative work at the site before the body can be removed. Forensic and post-mortem examinations will be carried out in an attempt to establish formal identification and cause of death. This may take some time."

Specialist search teams have examined sites based on "specific information" in the 6,500-acre Ashdown Forest on the Kent/East Sussex border.

Searches have also taken place at the couple's country home in Duddleswell and surrounding woodland.

Today, Detective Chief Inspector Steve Johns, of Sussex Police's major crime branch, appealed to anyone who may have seen anything suspicious in and around the lane where the body was found to come forward.

The disappearance of Mrs Chenery-Wickens has been described as totally out of character by friends and relatives.

Her passport and driving licence were found at her Duddleswell home, along with other personal belongings.

Despite analysing hours of CCTV footage, police have said none of it features Mrs Chenery-Wickens.

Speaking to reporters in February, her brother Russell Wickens said the family were bracing themselves for the worst.

Mr Wickens, 50, a consultant, said her disappearance was causing extreme concern to their retired parents, John and Joan.

He described his sister as a "much-loved and likeable" person who would not want to worry her family. As far as they were aware, there was nothing troubling her, he added.

Mrs Chenery-Wickens won an Emmy award in 2000 for her work on Arabian Nights.

In 2003 she was nominated for a Bafta in the make-up and hair design category for her work on Dead Ringers, missing out to an artist on Little Britain.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sussex Police on 0845 6070 999, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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