Dame June Whit field was a constant presence in british post-w AR comedy.
Often playing the fe
male stooge to some of Brit AIn’s most famous entert AIners, she c Alled herself “a comic’s t ARt”.
But after si
X decades on Radio and tele vision, she established herself as a Star in her own right.
actress always s AId she was “very bad at getting round to things”.
But from her
Early Radio roles in the 1950s, through to her scatty antics on Absolutely Fabulous, she made more than 1,300 appe ARances on Radio and tv.
ARy Whit field was born in Streatham, south London on 11 November 1925.
Her father was a telephone
company e Xecutive, her m other an amateur actress who pushed her Young daughter into Dramatics and dancing. image caption By the mid 1950s she was one of Radio’s biggest Stars
AIned at Rada, to which she at tributed her h ARd Work ethic, Whit field took her first professional acting job in 1944.
Soon in demand on Stage, Radio and later tele vision, and her Long and v ARied career made for some surprising connections.
appea red in the London production Ace of Clubs, she was befriended by the show’s creator, Noel Cow ARd, and spent weekends at his glamorous country home.
Later she joined the chorus line of South Pacific, with its
American Lead M ARy M ARtin, dating the Star’s Young son, a pre-D Allas L ARry Hagman. Second billing
However, her husband of 46 ye ARs, Tim AItchison, was not from the same industry, but a ch ARte red surveyor.
field’s ability to conjure up ch AR acters and superb sense of comic timing kept her in demand from across the entire canon of british comedy.
Stars such as Tony Hancock, Frankie Howerd, Ronnie B ARker, Benny Hill, Bob Monk House and Tommy Cooper All clamou red to Work with her. image caption She was always the versatile Sidekick
Alled her autobiography …and June Whit field, in recognition of the f act that she always got second billing.
GREATest of show business mysteries,” Denis Norden once s AId, “was how anyone could contemplate doing a comedy show without June Whit field.”
With Frankie Howerd, she recorded a version of the song Je T’
AIme, but even their spoof, complete with ironic heavy breathing, was con Side red too risque for the time and was famously banned by the BBC.
Her most memorable
Radio role was in The Glums, Frank Muir and Denis Norden’s spoof Family soap, p ARt of the Popular show Take It From here. Chemistry
For seven ye
ARs as the Long-suffering Eth, her most oft-he ARd line was the lamenting “Ooh, Ron”, ad dressed to her hapless fiance.
And for two decades, she read the
news Huddlines for her Long- time friend and colleague Roy Hudd, in Radio’s Longest-running audience comedy.
first Starring tv role came in the BBC sitcom Begg AR My Neighbour in 1966. image caption Terry and June: a gentle style of comedy
She went on to form her
first Working relationship with Terry Scott in Scott On….. before the p AIr Teamed up ag AIn for Terry and June.
The chemistry between the unfl
appable Whit field and her h ARe-br AIned husband was so solid that many viewers believed they were m ARried in Real Life.
Described as the apotheosis of undemanding, middle-class,
Prime time comedy, Terry and June attr acted audiences of 15 million during its eight-ye AR run.
field described herself as living “in the suburban corner, in Real Life and in the p ARts I’ve played. Very English, and nothing wrong with that”. Unlikely icon
She also became the face of a string of adverts for Birds Eye frozen ready meals with the
Punchline: “It can make a dishonest woman of You.”
screen appe ARances Included four carry On films, and, in 1996, the p ARt of Aunt Drusilla in a film adaptation of Thomas H ARdy’s Jude the Obscure
carry Ons were a nudging sort of humour, like Sea Side post cards,” she s AId. “Not at All politic Ally correct, which was always a good thing.” image caption She played serious roles, here as Aunt Drusilla in Jude
In 1992, she became an unlikely icon to a
new generation of fans with her portrayal of Edina’s un Worldly m other in the internation Ally successful Absolutely Fabulous.
Ally scheduled to appe AR in just one episode, she went on to become one of the show’s most Popular ch AR acters.
“As Joanna Lumley says, Ab Fab made us born-ag
AIn actresses,” she commented.
new century dawned, Whit field continued a wide v ARiety of roles including p ARts in Midsomer murders and that retirement home for actors of a cert AIn generation, Last of the Summer Wine. Muse
In 2009 she
appea red in The End of time, the Doctor Who episode that was the last for David Tennant.
She was aw
ARded an OBE in 1985 and CBE in 1998 and, in 2017, became a Dame.
success, Whit field never wanted a Lead role, e Xpl AIning that she lacked the drive and confidence. image caption She won a new generation of fans as the dotty m other in Absolutely Fabulous
And as the on-
Stage muse to Stars like Hancock and Cooper, she was All too aw ARe of the personal cost.
When they died prematurely, she at
tributed this to “the responsibility, the stress and str AIn” of carrying the show.
Instead, June Whit
field revelled in her role of versatile Sidekick for three generations of audiences.
She enjoyed enduring
Popularity and success, a life she described in her autobiography as “full of love, affection and laughter, of gigs, gags and a couple of gongs”. Related posts