Joanna Lumley has led the tributes to Dame June Whitfield who has passed away aged 93.
Joanna, 72, who starred as Patsy alongside June in the hit BBC comedy Absolutely Fabulous, 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.’
RIP: 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
‘Heartbroken’: Co-star Joanna Lumley said ‘I am heartbroken to lose such a darling friend and shall never forget her sensational talent’
David Walliams and Julian Clary are among the other British comedy legends to pay tribute to the star, who’s career endured eight decades.
Walliams, 47, described the star as ‘always there and always brilliant’ in a touching tweet about her ‘incredible career’.
Comedian Julian Clary added he ‘adored’ the star, who was made a dame in the 2017 Birthday Honours for her services to drama and entertainment.
Paying tribute: David Walliams and Julian Clary have lead the tributes to Absolutely Fabulous star Dame June Whitfield following her death aged 93
Clary, who often worked with June said: ‘God bless. How I adored her.’
Comedian turned children’s author Walliams tweeted: ‘#JuneWhitfield ‘s incredible career in British comedy stretched all the way from ‘Hancock’s Half Hour’ to ‘Absolutely Fabulous’.
Adding a link to a clip from Absolutely Fabulous, he said: ‘She was always there, always being brilliant. Jennifer Saunders wrote June one of the funniest lines in television history…’
Back in the day: Joanna Lumley, Jennifer Saunders and June Whitfield in Absolutely Fabulous
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.’
Bye-bye Gran: June Whitfield (left) attending the World premiere of Absolutely Fabulous The Movie with (left to right) Jennifer Saunders, Joanna Lumley, Julia Sawalha and Jane Horrocks
And her Ab Fab co-star Helen Lederer tweeted: ‘To add to tributes – June Whitfield during #AbsolutelyFabulous – a wizz at the crossword , perfection with feed lines and kindness itself.’
Comedian Miranda Hart wrote: ‘So very sad. 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.’
Spice Girl Emma Bunton, who worked with June in the big screen adaption of Absolutely Fabulous said: ‘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’
Well-loved: Jenny Eclair, Miranda Hart and Rory Bremner have all paid tribute to the ‘beautiful, funny’ comedy actress
Her Ab fab co-star Helen Lederer added she was ‘perfection with feed lines and kindness itself’.
Jenny Eclair tweeted: ‘Beautiful, funny June Whitfield- a friendly Goddess.’
Impressionist Rory Bremner added: ‘RIP June Whitfield- go-to comedy actress for 3 generations, from 60s radio to 70s, 80s, even 90s TV. Always graceful & elegant with a real comic glint in her eye & (absolutely) fabulous timing.’
Katy Brand said: ‘June Whitfield story: I was 18 and on work experience as a runner on a TV comedy show. I had to check her dressing room was ready. Being an idiot, I barged in without knocking. She was standing in her underwear, mid-change. She winked at me. She didn’t get me sacked. RIP.’
Iconic: TV stars including Vicki Michelle, Kate Robbins and Lisa Maxwell praised the star
In a statement, 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.’
Fabulous! June Whitfield with her daughter, Suzy Aitchison, after being made a CBE in 1998
Other stars paying tribute including Jane Horrocks, who starred alongside her on Ab Fab, remembered a ‘versatile, funny and generous’ actress.
Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth said he was ‘heartbroken’ by the death of his friend, adding on Twitter: ‘There was no one nicer.’
Writer Jack Monroe remembered working with Dame June for the dramatisation of her first book, A Girl Called Jack, on Radio 4.
She tweeted: ‘She played my Nan. She had no airs nor graces, arrived on public transport, and her only rider was a bag of ready salted crisps. She was kind and humble and generous and warm. x’
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.
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.
TV husband: 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