Dame June Whitfield dead: Absolutely Fabulous co-star Joanna Lumley leads tributes after beloved comedy actor dies, aged 93

Comedy star was best known for her roles in the sitcoms Absolutely Fabulous, and Terry and June

Roisin O'Connor
Sunday 30 December 2018 09:06
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Actress Dame June Whitfield has died aged 93

Tributes are being paid to actor Dame June Whitfield, after she died "peacefully in her sleep", aged 93.

The comedy star was best known for her roles in the TV sitcoms Absolutely Fabulous and Terry and June. In a career that stretched over seven decades, she also appeared in four Carry On films and Last of the Summer Wine.

Her Ab Fab co-star Joanna Lumley told ITV News: ”I am heartbroken to lose such a darling friend and shall never forget her sensational talent, humour and her generosity to us all who had the joy of working with her on Ab Fab.

“She will always have a most special place in my heart.”

Julia Sawalha, who played her granddaughter Saffy in the show, added: “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.”

Jane Horrocks, who played the character Bubble, described her former co-star as a “wonderful lady” and added: ”Versatile, funny and generous. Much loved and will be much missed.”

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 the news.

“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,” he said.

Writer and broadcaster Rae Earl listed a number of Whitfield's TV credits, commenting that she "underpinned classic comedy for six decades".

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Broadcaster Danny Baker hailed Dame June as “formidable, dependable, inimitable”. He added: “A rock. A gem.”

Comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner said she was the “go-to comedy actress for three generations”.

“From 60s radio to 70s, 80s, even 90s TV. Always graceful and elegant with a real comic glint in her eye and (absolutely) fabulous timing,” he added.

June Whitfield, a TV star for more than six decades, was made a dame in the 2017 Queen's birthday honours

Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, said in a statement: “June Whitfield was 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. Our thoughts go out to family and friends at this sad time.”

Dame June is survived by her daughter Suzy, also an actress. Her husband Tim Aitchison died in 2001.

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