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Famed as both an Oxo mum and sitcom star who became a much loved national treasure, the news that actress Lynda Bellingham has died of cancer aged 66 will sadden many.
With tributes still pouring in, here’s a brief reminder of how she earned a place in our hearts during the last forty years..
1. Starting out
Canadian born Lynda first started acting in the early seventies. Like any struggling actress she endured numerous bit parts even appearing in the raunchy (and terrible) sex comedy Confessions of a Driving Instructor in 1976.
She later complained of being typecast but still managed to land the unusual role of the Inquisitor in the Colin Baker era Doctor Who story Trial of a Timelord in the mid-Eighties.
2. Mother knows best
Many actors turn their noses up at the prospect of doing adverts. Not Lynda Bellingham, who as the mother of the TV Oxo family between 1983 and 1999 became one of the few actresses (along with Maureen Lipman) of the time to become a familiar face largely off the back of TV ad appearances.
3. The vet’s wife
Lynda also enjoyed another high profile maternal role at this time landing the part of Helen Herriot, wife of Yorkshire vet James Herriot (Christopher Timothy), in much loved BBC drama All Creatures Great and Small between 1988 and 1990. She was in fact the second actress to play this role taking over from Carol Drinkwater.
4. Sitcom star
Lynda became still more familiar for her role as Faith Grayshot in the nineties ITV sitcom Second Thoughts and its subsequent spin off Faith In The Future.
5. Later roles
The noughties saw Lynda crop up with a recurring role in At Home With The Braithwaites as accountant Pauline Farnell alongside her old All Creatures co-star Peter Davison.
More unusual roles in later life included the Tsarina of Russia in 1998’s The Romanovs: A Crowned Family, a medieval queen in TV’s Robin Hood and complete villain Irene Radford in police drama The Bill.
She also started to move into presenting during this time.
6. Domestic misfortune
Ironically, although she often played domestic goddesses on screen, Lynda’s home life (despite an idyllic childhood) was often less happy. Her first marriage to producer Greg Smith collapsed after he had many affairs, while her 16 year second marriage to Nunzio Peluso, an Italian businessman, frequently saw her become the victim of domestic violence.
Bellingham was open about these experiences. She was a regular panelist on Loose Women between 2007 and 2011.
She married for a third time in 2008.
In 2009, Lynda competed in Strictly Come Dancing (going out in the fourth round) and in 2010, her life story Lost and Found was published.
In 2013, it was revealed that she had colorectal cancer. Her sister had died of lung cancer in 2005 but Lynda was insistent initially that for her, the diagnosis would not prove fatal.
Tragically, only last month, she revealed that the cancer had developed and that she only had a short time to live. Sadly, her ambition to see one last Christmas will not be fulfilled.
Yet few people can claim a life as well spent as Lynda Bellingham, awarded an OBE for her charity work earlier this year.
As the star of stage and screen, she will always have a place in our hearts.