Lynda Bellingham: Tributes paid after actress dies at 66

Lynda Bellingham in Oxo ad Image copyright PA
Image caption Bellingham's most famous role was as the much-loved mum in the Oxo adverts from 1983

British actress and presenter Lynda Bellingham, who had cancer, has died at the age of 66, her agent has confirmed.

Sue Latimer said she died yesterday "in her husband's arms".

The actress, best known for her long-running role as a mother in the Oxo TV adverts, had been battling colon cancer since being diagnosed in July 2013.

Bellingham said she had planned to end her treatment to limit her family's suffering after it spread to her lungs and liver.

In a statement on behalf of Bellingham's family, Mrs Latimer said: "Lynda died peacefully in her husband's arms yesterday at a London hospital."

She added: "Actor, writer and presenter - to the end Lynda was a consummate professional."

Bellingham was also known for such shows as All Creatures Great and Small and in recent years was on the panel of ITV's Loose Women.

Husband Michael Pattemore told Yours magazine, for which his late wife was a columnist, that she had been unable to die at home as she had hoped.

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Media captionBellingham spoke about her illness on BBC Breakfast earlier this month

"She was in too much pain and they didn't have it under control enough for me to be able to look after her," he said.

He told the magazine: "I just want her to be remembered as an actress more than anything, not as a celebrity or one of the Loose Women.

"She started her career as an actress and never thought of herself as a celebrity - she's always been an actress."

Speaking earlier this month, Bellingham said her decision to give up chemotherapy was "a huge relief because I took back some control of myself".

The first 20 minutes of Monday's Loose Women was dedicated to the show's former co-host.

"The mood is very different in the studio today," host Ruth Langsford said. "It's a very sad day for us here on Loose Women... but we want this to be a celebration of Lynda."

Image copyright PA
Image caption She played Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great and Small, alongside Christopher Timothy

Bellingham's friend Christopher Biggins gave an emotional tribute, telling the show: "Last night was a very difficult night, but I went to bed laughing, thinking of a joke she used to tell over and over again.

"It's a blessing in a way, we don't want her to suffer any more."

Colleen Nolan, a panellist on the programme, was visibly moved but singer Jane McDonald, who also used to work on Loose Women, said Bellingham "would be mortified if we were all sad, weeping and wailing".

She added: "We have to keep the spirit of Lynda alive."

A final interview with Bellingham, which was recorded a few weeks ago, will be broadcast on Wednesday.

During an emotional appearance on the show recently, the actress told viewers: "Grasp it all, don't be afraid, enjoy the bits you can and tell your family you love them while you have the chance."

'Naughty and funny'

After her death was announced, Christopher Timothy, who starred opposite Bellingham in All Creatures Great and Small, described her as "a real friend".

"She was a life force. She was funny, she was loyal, talented and a great mum," he told the BBC.

"On set, she was 'one of the boys' really - she was naughty and funny. We've all been expecting it, but it is so unjust she didn't make her last Christmas as was her intention."

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Media captionDiana Moran pays tribute to friend and colleague Lynda Bellingham

Michael Redfern, who played Bellingham's TV husband in the Oxo commercials that became a national institution, said "everyone liked her".

"I think she was just normal, I think that's all it was," he said. "She was like the lady next door, the wife, your mother. She had everything, just a very open person."

Kaye Adams, another of Bellingham's Loose Women co-presenters, said Bellingham would be remembered as "honest, generous, kind, courageous, intelligent, thoughtful".

'Ultimate professional'

Denise Welch, who also presented on Loose Women, told BBC Ulster Radio: "She turned everything into a positive. She's left a wonderful legacy. [She was] one of the best character actresses that this country has known."

Bellingham was born in Montreal, Canada, but grew up near Aylesbury in Buckinghamshire after being adopted.

She studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama and went on to land roles including Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great And Small and the title role in sitcom Faith In The Future.

The actress, who had two sons and was married three times, was awarded an OBE in 2013 for her charity work.

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