Dame June Whitfield, 1925-2018
Comic actress Dame June Whitfield has died aged 93. The star enjoyed a career stretching back to the 1940s, including roles in the Carry On films and the long-running sitcom Terry And June.
DAME JUNE WHITFIELD, who delighted television and radio audiences for eight decades, has died aged 93.
The comic actress enjoyed a career stretching back to the 1940s, including roles in the Carry On films and the sitcoms Terry And June and Absolutely Fabulous.
Dame June’s agent said last night that she “passed away peacefully” on Friday night.
She was granted an OBE in the 1985 Birthday Honours, and a CBE in 1998. She was made a dame in 2017 for her services to drama and entertainment in her lengthy career.
Tributes to her long and successful career in comedy were quick to come in from fellow stars last night.
Rory Bremner said: “From Sixties radio to Seventies, Eighties, even Nineties TV. Always graceful and elegant with a real comic glint in her eye and (absolutely) fabulous timing.”
Miranda Hart tweeted to say that Dame June’s death was “so very sad” and that the star had sponsored one of Hart’s first performances at the Edinburgh Fringe.
Hart said: “Fifteen years later when I met her she had all my letters and the notes of the show she sponsored. I cried then too.”
Jon Plowman, the television producer, who worked with Dame June on Absolutely Fabulous and the 2016 film version, tweeted: “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 decades. A great loss,” he said.
Dame June was born in Streatham, south London, in 1925 and was evacuated from the capital during the Second World War. She graduated from the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Art prior to the end of the conflict, and her career in entertainment began with West End stage work.
Her first big break came on radio when she appeared in Take It From Here in 1953 before partnering Terry Scott for the first time in 1968 on his sketch show Scott On.
The two had a long partnership on screen, with five years as a married couple in Happily Ever After and eight more years in Terry And June.
Dame June was praised for her roles as the female companion to some of the era’s most famous entertainers. She often described herself as a “comic’s tart”, but she established herself in a star as her own right, featuring in more than 1,300 radio and television shows across her long career.
Shane Allen, controller of BBC Comedy, said: “She was the go-to female comedy performer of her generation and was always in demand from the cream of British comedy.”
Dame June met her husband Tim Aitchison in the 1950s. The pair went on to have a daughter, Suzy, who followed in her mother’s footsteps and became an actress.
She called her autobiography ...and
June Whitfield, in a nod to fact that she always got second billing.
“The greatest of show business mysteries,” Denis Norden once said, “was how anyone could contemplate doing a comedy show without June Whitfield.”
Dame June Whitfield in Absolutely Fabulous (above left) with Jennifer Saunders, Julia Sawalha and Joanna Lumley; with Terry Scott in Terry And June (above); and in Carry On Abroad (right)