Deaths: June Whitfield – BBC News

adminDecember 29, 2018

June Whitfield

Dame June Whitfield was a constant presence in British post-war comedy.

She often played female stooge to some of Britain's most famous entertainers, and she called herself "a cartoon".

But after six decades on radio and television, she established herself as a star in herself.

The actor always said she was "very bad at getting around to things".

But from her early radio appearances in the 1950s, through her scary antics at Absolutely Fabulous, she featured in more than 1,300 radio and television programs.

June Rosemary Whitfield was born in Streatham, south London on November 11, 1925.

Her father was a telephone company, her mother was an amateur actress who pushed her young daughter into drama and dance.

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By the mid-1950s, she was one of radio's biggest stars

Trained on the Rada, which she attributed to her hard work ethic, Whitfield took her first professional actress job in 1944.

She was soon in demand on stage, radio and later television, and her long and varied career made some surprising connections.

When she was born in the London production Ace of Clubs, she was granted by the show's creator, Noel Coward, and spent the weekends at her glamorous country house.

Later she came to the corridor of the South Pacific, with her American leader Mary Martin, who dated the star's young son, a pre-Dallas Larry Hagman.

Other billing

But her 46-year-old husband, Tim Aitchison, was not from the same industry but a chartered surveyor.

Whitfield's ability to accentuate characters and amazing sense of comic timing kept her in demand from across the canon of British comedy.

Stars like Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd, Ronnie Barker, Benny Hill, Bob Monkhouse and Tommy Cooper all cling to work with her.

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She was always the versatile sidekick

She called her autobiography … and June Whitfield, in recognition of the fact that she always received other billing.

"The biggest of show business mysteries," Denis Norden once said, "was how anyone could consider making a comedy show without June Whitfield."

With Frankie Howerd, she recorded a version of the song Je T & # 39; aime, but even their spoof, complete with ironically heavy breath, was considered risque for the time and became famous banned by the BBC.

Her most memorable radio role was in The Glums, Frank Muir and Denis Norden's show family soap, part of the popular show Take It From Here.


For seven years as the long-suffering one, her most frequently heard line was the deplorable "Ooh, Ron," addressed to her unlucky fiance.

And for two decades, she has read News Huddlines for her long-term wife and colleague Roy Hudd, in the radio's longest running comedy comedy.

Her first starring role in television came in BBC sitcom Beggar My Neighbor in 1966.

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Terry and June – a gentle comedy style

She continued to form her first partnership with Terry Scott in Scott On ….. before the couple merged again for Terry & June.

The chemistry between the unflappable Whitfield and her hare-brained husband was so solid that many viewers thought they were married in real life.

Described as the apotheosis of the exhausting, middle-class primetime comedy, Terry and June attracted the audience of 15 million over eight years.

Whitfield described himself as living "in the suburban corner, in reality and in the parts I have played. Very English, and nothing wrong with it".

Unlikely icon

She also faced a series of ads for Birds Eye frozen ready meals with the stroke line: "It can make you a dishonest woman."

Her big screen performances included four Carry On movies, and in 1996, part of Aunt Drusilla was in a movie adaptation of Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure

"The Carry Ons were a nudging kind of humor, like seaside postcards," she said. "Not at all politically correct, which was always good."

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She played serious roles, here as Aunt Drusilla in Jude

In 1992, she became an unlikely icon for a new generation of fans with her portrayal of Edina's unworthy mother in the internationally successful Absolutely Fabulous.

Originally scheduled to appear in just one episode, she continued to become one of the show's most popular characters.

"As Joanna Lumley says, Ab Fab made us born again actresses," she said.

As the new century arose, Whitfield continued a wide variety of roles, including parts of Midsomer Murders and the retirement age of actors of a particular generation, Last of the Summer Wine.


In 2009, she appeared in The End of Time, the Doctor Who episode that was the latest for David Tennant.

She was awarded a UBE in 1985 and CBE in 2000 and became a Dame in 2017

Despite her success, Whitfield never wanted a lead and explained that she lacked the drive and trust.

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She won a new generation of fans who dotty her mother in Absolutely Fabulous

And as the museum on stage for stars like Hancock and Cooper, she was far too conscious of the personal cost.

When they died prematurely, she attributed this to "the responsibility, the stress and the strain" to carry the show.

Instead, June Whitfield discovered in his role as a versatile sidekick for three generations of audiences.

She enjoyed lasting popularity and success, a life she described in her autobiography as "full of love, affection and laughter, of gigs, gags and a few gongs".

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