Having passed away peacefully on Friday night according to her agent and reported to media yesterday with “tributes pouring in from the acting, comedy and showbiz world”.
In a statement, [Jennifer Saunders, show writer and heavy-drinking, drug-abusing PR agent character Edina Monsoon], 60, said: “It’s so tremendously sad to lose June. I will always be grateful that she agreed to be in Ab Fab and even more grateful that she became a dear friend.
“She lived and worked with an extraordinary grace. Everything June did was perfectly measured.”
Dame Whitfield having played the matriarch of the massively popular British sitcom’s Monsoon family only ever referred to as “Mother” or “Gran”, with Julia Sawalha—who played Edina’s uptight daughter and June’s on-screen granddaughter, Saffy—paying beautiful tribute too on Twitter:
She wrote: “Thank you Dame June Whitfield, for teaching me my craft with such grace and dignity.
“I always wanted you to know how in awe of you I was, however, you were always far too humble to accept my adoration.
“You were a great source of inspiration to me. Bye-bye Gran.”
With Joanna Lumley—who played fashion director Patsy Stone whose drug abuse, alcohol consumption, and promiscuity eclipse Edina’s—paying tribute yesterday:
Absolutely Fabulous actress Joanna Lumley, who played Patsy Stone, said: “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.”
Dame Whitfield of course a household name long before Ab Fab which brought her to the attention of a new generation and earning their respect, having worked in TV and radio for six decades appearing in four of the Carry On films as well as a many sitcoms with a regular role in Last of the Summer Wine and her own sitcom Terry and June with fellow Carry On staple Terry Scott from 1979 to 1987 and even featured in the US sitcom Friends, the Doctor Who two-part episode “The End of Time” in 2009 and a spell in the London-based soap opera Eastenders as Sister Ruth, a nun with a secret which I’m quite pleased I never watched to find out what it was.
She was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to drama and entertainment.