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Friday 19th July 2019

Joanna Lumley leads tributes to adored co-star June Whitfield, who has died at 93

The iconic actresses worked together on Absolutely Fabulous

Joanna Lumley has paid tribute to her Absolutely Fabulous co-star June Whitfield following the announcement of her death.

"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 told ITV News.

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

Veteran comic actress Dame June Whitfield died aged 93 yesterday, her agent confirmed tonight.

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’s rep said she "passed away peacefully last night".

She was made a dame in the 2017 Birthday Honours for her services to drama and entertainment in a career spanning eight decades.

At the time, she told the Press Association: "It’s absolutely remarkable. One feels so honoured and proud. It takes a lot of getting used to."

Perhaps now best known for her role as the mother of Jennifer Saunders’s hedonistic Edina in Absolutely Fabulous, Dame June also became the regular voice of Agatha Christie’s beloved Miss Marple on BBC Radio 4 throughout the 1990s.

The national treasure had a career spanning seven decades.

Dame June shared a laugh with Prince Charles as she was awarded (Credit: PA)

The former Carry On films actress landed her first lead role for radio in the early 1950s, before becoming a regular feature on British television in comedy series such as Last Of The Summer Wine and The Green Green Grass.

She said she had seen "a lot of change" in the course of her long career, notably that now "it’s so much more about money".

Referring to the sexual harassment scandal that has been gripping Hollywood and the wider entertainment industry, Dame June said: "I’ve never met any, what’s his name, Weinstein.

"I’ve never met any of those luckily, and if I had I think I would have told them to, in no uncertain terms, to go away."

Dame June told Charles told her the honour "was a long time coming".

She said the prince had to "step down to get to my height to put the thing on".

Such a legend, she will be greatly missed. More to follow.