June Whitfield

June Whitfield

From playing the nurse in Tony Hancock’s classic blood donor scene to the matriarch of the Monsoon family in Absolutely Fabulous, June Whitfield has quietly and without fanfare built up one of the most enduring careers in British comedy, working almost continually since the mid-Fifties.

Name anyone in the business, and she will have worked with them: Spike Milligan, Peter Sellers, Jimmy Edwards, Frankie Howerd, Dick Emery, Julian Clary – even the cast of Friends.

Her most famous partnership was, of course, with Terry Scott – teaming up with him first in his sketch show, then playing his wife first in Happy Ever After, then in Terry And June, quintessential cosy suburban sitcoms that ran for 13 years between them.

The role cemented her image as a ‘proper’ Englishwoman – slightly prim, resolutely middle-class, but always in restrained command - that she’s played for much of her career.

But the part that first made famous, nine years after graduating from Rada in 1944, was somewhat lower down the social ladder – as Eth, the dowdy long-term fiancée of gormless Ron in The Glums, part of the Fifties  radio comedy Take It From Here. And she remained committed to radio throughout her career, most notably being Roy Hudd’s versatile sidekick on his News Huddlines.

She was awarded an OBE in 1985 for services to her profession and a CBE in 1998, as well as the British Comedy Awards Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994.

She was married to husband Tim Aitchison for 45 years until his death in 2001. Their daughter,Suzy Aitchison, is also an actress.

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Arise, Sir Billy...

And June Whitfield is made a dame

Billy Connolly has been knighted in the Queen’s birthday honours.

The 74-year-old said he still thought of himself as a ‘hairy rebel’ despite the establishment honour.

And he insisted it wouldn’t change him - but ‘it may change the way other people think of me’.

Sir Billy added: ‘I'm not big on pride but whatever the equivalent of pride is that is a bit decent, I've got that. I’m a little embarrassed but deep within me, I'm very pleased.

‘It won't really dawn on me until Glasgow people start calling me 'Sir Billy' or whatever they come up with.'

He told the BBC: 'It always feels strange to be welcomed into the establishment. It is not a place I relish. But… it’s an honour and I'll accept it honourably.’

In the same list, June Whitfield and Julie Walters have been made dames.

While former Little Britain David Walliams becomes an OBE for his services to charity and the arts. He said: ‘The news made me happy, but nobody is happier than my mum.’ Walliams has raised millions for Sport Relief, swimming the English Channel and  140 miles down the River Thames, raising more than £2million.

Whitfield, 91, said: ‘It’s amazing and a great honour, and the icing on the cake of life.’

From playing the nurse in Tony Hancock’s classic blood donor scene to the matriarch of the Monsoon family in Absolutely Fabulous, Whitfield has is one of the most enduring stars of British comedy, working almost continually since the mid-Fifties

While Walters, 67, won fame with her TV collaborations with Victoria Wood before establishing herself as a solo acting icon. She was awarded an OBE in 1999 and a CBE in 2008. 

Another actress, Olivia de Havilland, also becomes a dame – and at 101 next month is the oldest woman to win the honour. She called the accoladed ‘the most gratifying of presents’.

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Published: 16 Jun 2017

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