Dame June Whitfield, who played the judgmental grandmother on the beloved BBC hit Absolutely Fabulous for over 20 years, died peacefully at her U.K. home on Friday, reports The Hollywood Reporter. Whitfield was 93.
Whitfield perfectly personified Gran, the kleptomaniac, slightly clueless -- but occassionally acid-tongued -- mother of Edina Monsoon, the fab-obsessed alcoholic played by Jennifer Saunders, the show's creator. AbFab, as it's known by its many queer fans, launched on BBC in 1992 and ran for numerous successive "series" (aka seasons) through 2012; a film version was released in 2016. The show also starred Joanna Lumley, as Edina's best friend, a drug-addled magazine editor. Julia Sawalha portrayed Saffron, the straight-laced daughter of Edina.
Thank you #damejunewhitfield,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 https://t.co/2wc2G3bQ0G were a great source of inspiration to me. Bye-bye Gran.
— Julia Sawalha (@JuliaSawalha1) December 29, 2018
Whitfield appeared in numerous stage productions -- including work with legendary gay playwright Noel Coward -- and films before her first television role in the late-1960s sitcom Beggar My Neighbour. Whitfield would later star in the series Happy Ever After and Terry and June, before landing her memorable role as Gran. Whitfield was made a "dame" just last year. Whitfield's husband Tim Aitchison died in 2001, but she is survived by a daughter, Suzy Aitchison.
“Not a rags-to-riches story, or one bursting with revelations; there isn’t even an unhappy childhood, only a life full of love, affection and laughter, of gigs, gags and a couple of gongs,” Whitfield wrote in her 2000 memoir, according to The Guardian.