British actress Dame June Whitfield has died at the age of 93, her agent has announced.
The Absolutely Fabulous star enjoyed a career stretching back to the 1940s, including roles in some of of the earliest Carry On films in the 1950s.
She was best known for her work with comedian Terry Scott, co-starring in sitcoms Terry and June and Happy Ever After, where they played a husband and wife duo.
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 said she ‘passed away peacefully last night’, only days after the actress had complained about the volume of sex and swearing on TV.
Actress Dame June Whitfield – pictured last year – has died at the age of 93 after an acting career stretching back to the 1940s, her agent has announced
Actors June Whitfield and Terry Scott, pictured together in 1982, played the characters of Terry and June Medford in the sitcom Terry and June
Following Scott’s death in 1994, June went onto play Edina Monsoon’s mother in Absolutely Fabulous, alongside well-loved supporting roles in Last Of The Summer Wine and The Green Green Grass.
She appeared in numerous Radio 4 productions during her career, and played Agatha Christie’s Miss Marple.
Fellow Ab Fab actress Lumley appeared on ITV news to share her sadness at the death of her co-star.
She said: ‘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.’
Fellow TV comic actor David Walliams also offered his appreciation for the talents of Dame June, calling her achievements in entertainment ‘brilliant’.
He wrote: ‘June Whitfield’s incredible career in British comedy stretched all the way from ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ to ‘Absolutely Fabulous’. She was always there, always being brilliant.’
And Spice Girls singer Emma Bunton paid her own tribute to Dame June, who made her feel comfortable on set.
She wrote on Twitter: ‘So sad this evening. Such an incredible lady with the warmest heart. I was so nervous working with her but she had a way of making you feel comfortable and special Thank you Dame June Whitfield.’
June Whitfield pictured left in a sketch from Tommy Cooper’s television show ‘Life With Cooper’ in 1967 and right in 1955 when she starred in the film the Take it from Here
Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders and June Whitfield in Absolutely Fabulous
Whitfield was awarded an OBE in 1985, followed by a CBE in 1998 and then a Damehood in 2017.
She also recently revealed that she now lives in a care home, after ten years of living alone following the death of her husband of 46 years Tim Aitchison in 2001.
Yesterday she was in the headlines again, saying she could not stand modern day television because there was ‘too much sex and swearing.’
The 93-year-old actress also told David Hamilton on BBC Radio Sussex that political correctness means you ‘can’t make a joke out of anything.’
She said: ‘Everything, every channel, it’s either some sex scene or a killing of some kind.
June Whitfield with her daughter, Suzy Aitchison, after being made a CBE in 1998
‘I do like people like [comic] Michael McIntyre , but some of them just spend the whole time swearing.’ You cannot make a joke about anybody.’
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 June Whitfield had died.
‘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.
Comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner also paid tribute to Dame June on Twitter, saying 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.
Queen Elizabeth II with Lionel Blair and June Whitfield in 2006 at a ‘Living Legends’ event
Actress Dame June Whitfield, pictured after receiving her damehood in November 2017, has died at the age of 93
Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, said: ‘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.’
The charity Age UK also tweeted to say it was ‘devastated’ to hear of Dame June’s death.
‘June was a huge supporter of the work we do and we’ll all miss her greatly,’ a post on Twitter said.
June Whitfield in Carry on Abroad with Kenneth Connor. The actress died peacefully in her sleep last night, her agent said