Entertainment & Arts

June Whitfield: Absolutely Fabulous cast attend beloved co-star's funeral

Julia Sawalha, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley Image copyright PA
Image caption Julia Sawalha, Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley after the service

Dame June Whitfield's funeral has been held in West Sussex, with many of her friends and co-stars in attendance.

Absolutely Fabulous actress Jennifer Saunders was among them, as was Joanna Lumley, who said the service was "touching beyond words".

Julia Sawalha, who also acted with Dame June in the BBC comedy series, said it was "everything she would have wanted".

Roy Hudd, Gyles Brandreth and Nerys Hughes also paid their respects to the actress, who died aged 93 in December.

Image copyright PA
Image caption Flowers adorned Dame June's wicker casket

Family and friends were asked to wear bright colours for the service at All Hallows Church in Tillington, near Petworth.

Suzy Aitchison, Dame June's daughter, said the funeral would be "a celebration of life" and that her mother "would have been overwhelmed".

Her wicker casket was carried out of the church to the sound of Get Happy, sung by Judy Garland.

Image copyright PA
Image caption The order of service used Dame June's married name

"The feeling in the church was more like a wedding than a funeral," said Lumley at afterwards. "Her spirit was there - funny, generous and lovely."

Saunders, who played Dame June's daughter Edina in Absolutely Fabulous, said there were "happy tears of joy" for "an amazing woman".

Image copyright PA
Image caption Gyles Brandreth, Roy Hudd and Nerys Hughes were also in attendance

Sawalha, who played Whitfield's granddaughter in the show, said: "I was extremely moved as she was taken out of the church to the music of Judy Garland.

"It was like she was dancing out of the church."

Hudd, with whom Dame June appeared on radio for many years, delivered a eulogy at Friday's funeral.

The order of service featured an engagement photograph of the actress with her husband Tim Aitchison, who died in 2001.

A selection of Dame June's favourite music was played, including tunes by Gershwin and Porter sung by Ella Fitzgerald, Frank Sinatra, and Nat King Cole.

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