June Whitfield

From working alongside Tony Hancock to playing the coolest gran of all time in Absolutely Fabulous, June Whitfield has been a true comedy great for decades. Here's a quick guide to her life.

June Whitfield

Background info

Born in London on 11 November 1925, June Whitfield started training as a performer at the tender age of three. Her mother, who was involved in amateur dramatics, enrolled her at a local dancing school. Growing up she juggled school with evening classes and her hard work paid off as she was accepted at the legendary Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

The big break

She cut her acting teeth on the stage and June proved such a talented theatre performer that she was soon given her great breakthrough with a job offer from the BBC. She became a versatile voice on comedy programmes, working alongside future superstars like Tony Hancock, and she duly graduated to TV work, appearing on Benny Hill's programmes in the 1960s and Dick Emery's long-running sketch series in the 1970s.

Career highs

A superlative comedy actor, June has a number of 'Carry On' under her belt, including 1972's classic Carry On Abroad as well as the final instalment, Carry on Columbus, in 1992. But her natural home is TV, where she achieved true star status as one of half of the married couple in the 80s sitcom Terry and June. She gained a new generation of fans as Edina's mum in Absolutely Fabulous, and even got a cameo role in US sitcom Friends.

Career lows

June's long comedy career is studded with gems, but a few blunders are also to be found - an example being the long-forgotten 1966 spoof romp The Spy with a Cold Nose. She also put a foot wrong in the year 2000 when played Dora Vermouth in a one-off comedy called Mirrorball, which featured the entire Ab Fab casts playing new characters. It failed to spawn a series.

Did you know?

June doesn't just do comedy. She recently portrayed Miss Marple, but don't try to think if you've seen it - it was a Radio 4 adaptation.

The final word

June has always been very laid back about her great career. "I can't say I yearn for anything really," she confessed. "Frankie Howerd used to tease me about my lack of ambition, but I never really thought about it. I've always been inclined to sit back and wait for things to happen. Just when I think it's all over, something fabulous turns up."