- Star had been battling cancer but was planning to end her chemotherapy
- She didn’t want her family to see her go through the gruelling treatment
- Her agent told today how she died peacefully with husband Michael
- Grieving husband says he wants people to remember her as an actress
- After stars pay tribute to actress, her son thanks well-wishers for support
- Mother-of-two had been hoping to spend one last christmas with family
- Actress best known for role as mother in long-running Oxo adverts
- She was also a presenter of ITV’s Loose Women daytime chat show
- The 66-year-old recently returned to the show to film one last programme
- When presenter was moved to tears, she said: ‘Don’t cry. It will be fine’
Richard Spillett for MailOnline
02:20 EST, 20 October 2014
09:23 EST, 20 October 2014
Loose Women presenters wept today as they remembered Lynda Bellingham, the actress who regularly appeared on the show and who died yesterday.
Coleen Nolan had to be comforted by fellow panellists as she fought back the tears as tributes were paid to Lynda, who, it emerged this morning, has lost her battle with colon cancer.
Coleen said: ‘We miss her already, so much. It’s so hard not to be sad and the only thing I think will get me through the day is I can almost feel her behind me whacking me, saying “get on with it”.’
Lynda died in her husband Michael’s arms in hospital yesterday, as the advanced state of her illness meant she was unable to die at home as she had wished.
The 66-year-old star, best known for her long-running role as a mother in the Oxo TV adverts, had been battling colon cancer, which later spread to her lungs and liver, since being diagnosed in July last year.
The actress revealed earlier this year that she had decided to end her treatment to limit the amount of suffering her family would have to witness.
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Coleen Nolan (second from left) struggles to hold back the tears as tributes are paid to Lynda Bellingham on Loose Women this morning
Coleen broke down as the panel heard from Lynda’s close friend, Christopher Biggins, who said: ‘Lynda was marvellous’
Actress Lynda Bellingham, pictured on a show recorded 12 days ago, died in her husband’s arms yesterday after a battle with cancer
She said she wanted to have some control back over the remainder of her life after being left desperately ill by the gruelling chemotherapy sessions.
In a statement on behalf of Bellingham’s family, her agent, Sue Latimer, said this morning: ‘Lynda died peacefully in her husband’s arms yesterday at a London hospital.
‘Her family would like to thank the nurses and staff for their tremendous care and support. Actor, writer and presenter – to the end Lynda was a consummate professional.’
Husband Michael Pattemore later told Yours magazine, for which his late wife was a columnist: ‘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 told the magazine’s writer Carole Richardson he wanted people to remember her as an actress rather than a ‘celebrity’ or Loose Women panellist.
Fighting back tears, he added: ’She started her career as an actress and never thought of herself as a celebrity. She’s always been an actress.’
‘I can tell you now that the words on her gravestone will be “The curtain went up on May 31 1948, and the final curtain went down on October 19 2014″.’
After being inundated with messages of support, her son Michael Peluso later tweeted: ‘Thank you everyone! Your love and compassion is overwhelming’, followed by a picture of a broken heart.
There were emotional scenes on Loose Women today as presenters paid tribute to their former colleague.
Jane Moore said: ‘Every picture I have ever seen her she has got a big cheesy grin on her face.’
The show also spoke to Lynda’s friend, actor Christopher Biggins, who fought back the tears as he told of the moment he found out about her death.
Her tragic death came just 11 days after she returned for one final appearance on TV show Loose Women with presenters Coleen Nolan (left) and Janet Street-Porter (right), which will be screened on Wednesday
Coleen – whose sister Bernie lost her battle with breast cancer last year – broke down in tears on the show recorded just over a week ago as she asked Lynda how she’d like to be remembered. Lynda told her: ‘Please don’t cry… it will be fine.’
Her return to the pre-recorded show also brought tears to the eyes of her husband, Michael, who sat in the audience
Mr Biggins said: ‘[Her husband] Michael phoned me at about 4.30 yesterday and said he had some bad news. He said “it’s going to be 48 hours”.
‘I thought I would see her on my way home but two hours later he rang me again to say she had gone.’
But Mr Biggins said he was determined to remember the jokes Lynda told, adding: ‘I will remember the laughter, the joy of being with her’.
The show also heard from Jane McDonald, who appeared on the panel show with her, and praised her widower Michael.
She told the show he had ‘been unbelievable throughout this whole experience, he has been a rock’.
Lynda died peacefully in her husband’s arms yesterday at a London hospital.
Her family would like to thank the nurses and staff for their tremendous care and support.
Actor, writer and presenter – to the end Lynda was a consummate professional
Speaking about her former co-star, she said: ‘She would be mortified if we were all sad and weeping and wailing because Lynda was the fun, fabulous amazing person.’
The announcement of Lynda’s death came just days 11 days after 66-year-old Lynda made a return to TV show to film one final appearance, which is set to be screened on Wednesday.
She had joined Coleen Nolan and Janet Street Porter to discuss her decision to stop chemotherapy two weeks ago.
Coleen – who lost her sister Bernie to breast cancer last year – cried as she asked Lynda how she would like to be remembered.
Lynda replied: ‘Just as an honest person,’ and told Coleen: ‘Please don’t cry… it will be fine.’
In a candid interview, she said: ‘As a society, we never talk about [death], we never face it – even though it’s everywhere. We must talk about death.’
The actress’s husband, Michael, was among the audience during filming and he was also moved to tears by his wife’s bravery.
Bellingham’s decision to end her treatment was revealed in a newspaper serialisation of her forthcoming autobiography in which she said she would like to see one last Christmas.
She said: ‘The decision to give up chemo was a huge relief because I took back some control of myself. It’s there on the table if I want it.
‘I don’t want the boys or my husband to see me die a little sad old lady. I want to go out there as I am.’
She said she wanted her autobiography to be ‘uplifting’, adding: ‘I wrote the book for everybody out there. It’s not supposed to be an embarrassing account of me having terminal cancer.
‘I wanted to write it for everybody who is given that curveball and say of course there are no answers but, if you can, take it and make it positive and talk about dying.
‘If two people read this book and think “Actually, that’s how I feel and I’m not on my own”, then I’ll have done something half decent.’
Writing in The Mail on Sunday last month, she said: ‘I would love to make one more Christmas, if possible, but I want to stop taking chemo around November in order to pass away by the end of January.’
Lynda’s agent said this morning that she died with husband Michael by her side in a London hospital yesterday
Within minutes of her death being announced, celebrities took to Twitter to pay tribute to the star, with Phillip Schofield tweeting: ‘RIP Gorgeous Lynda Bellingham xx’
Actor Simon Pegg, who starred with the actress in 1990s TV show Faith In The Future, said: ‘Lynda Bellingham, a gorgeous, brassy, funny, generous, talented human being. My first TV mother figure and a treasured friend.’
Actress and presenter Amanda Holden wrote: ‘So devastated to hear the news about the beautiful Lynda Bellingham.’
I’m determined to hang on until Christmas. If my quality of life fades after that, I want to be able to open the box, make a choice and stop the chemotherapy
Lynda Bellingham speaking two weeks ago
Kirstie Allsopp said: ‘Lynda Bellingham, she was an inspiration, she so wanted to make it to Christmas, if you’re working towards that, don’t give up hope.’
Fellow presenter Ben Shephard said: ‘So so sad to hear that the gorgeous Lynda Bellingham has passed away. She was just wonderful to be around and will be sorely missed.’
Presenter Kaye Adams, who worked on Loose Women, said Bellingham was ‘an incredibly courageous person’.
Kaye Adams told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: ‘She just had such an energy and a dynamism and you were just always pleased to see her and always felt she was pleased to see you, which is a fabulous thing to be able to do. She always left you feeling better about life.’
She added: ‘I think a lot of people will be thinking of her so fondly this morning and thinking, God, Lynda, you are incredible.’
Bellingham was asked recently how she would like to be remembered and said she wanted to be thought of as an honest person.
Adams said: ‘That’s one of the many ways that she will be remembered. Honest, generous, kind, courageous, intelligent, thoughtful, all of those things.’
Bellingham, who took part in the 2009 series of Strictly Come Dancing, was also a panellist on ITV show Loose Women in recent years.
Co-stars and celebrities took to Twitter this morning after news of the actress’s tragic death emerged
Lynda died in the arms of her husband Michael (pictured together, left) with whom she celebrated receiving an OBE, presented by Prince Charles (right)
Lynda on the day she was awarded her OBE, with (left to right) sons Michael and Robert, husband Michael and step-son Bradley
In a special farewell episode of the ITV show, which is yet to air, she received a standing ovation from the audience.
She also presented a number of other programmes, following an acting career which saw her star in dramas such as At Home With The Braithwaites and The Bill.
Lynda’s most famous role in the Oxo adverts kept her on British TV screens for almost two decades.
The actress was diagnosed with colon cancer little over a year ago, which later spread to her lungs and liver.
She fought her cancer in the open – appearing on television and radio talking about her illness and her decision to stop her treatment.
The actress and presenter insisted death should be confronted and discussed and made it her mission to transform it into a ‘positive’ thing.
Bellingham’s Loose Women co-presenter Nadia Sawalha, who appeared alongside Lynda in the Oxo adverts, also paid tribute to a ‘brilliant actress.’
She told ITV show Lorraine: ‘We’re just all heartbroken because her real, her last wish was that she would spend this Christmas with her family.
‘Anyone that knew Lynda and knew her well, knew that she was this absolute live wire. She would come into a room and light the place up. Everybody loved her.
‘She got me my first ever job on the Oxo ads… I played her son’s girlfriend in it and then we worked together on (TV series) Second Thoughts. She played my sister’s mum
Lynda rose to fame playing Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great And Small, alongside co-stars Robert Hardy and Christopher Timothy (pictured)
But she is perhaps best known as the mother in the Oxo adverts – which appeared on TV for two decades
Nadia Sawalha added: ‘And we all absolutely adored her because she was, in that true sense of the word, the actress. She loved it, she had none of that pretending that she didn’t. She’d go, ‘Darling, the adoration, I adore it! The audience!’ That was really her, she had no shame with that.
‘She was a brilliant actress and she moved me to tears many times. She will be so, so sorely missed by so many of us.’
She said that Bellingham told her fellow Loose Women panellists: ‘Please when I’m gone, have a big party for me and have a dance’ and that’s Lynda though and through.’
She was a life-force. She was funny, she was loyal and she was talented
All Creatures Great And Small co-star Christopher Timothy
Loose Women issued a statement on its Twitter feed, saying: ‘Our thoughts go to Lynda Bellingham’s family at this incredibly sad time and to all those whose lives she touched so deeply, as she did ours.’
Belllingham’s co-star from All Creatures Great And Small Christopher Timothy said: ‘She was a life-force.
‘She was funny, she was loyal, she was talented, that’s without doubt. She was a great mum, she was a real friend and on-set she was ‘one of the boys’ really.
‘She was naughty and funny. We’ve all been expecting it but it’s so unjust that she didn’t make her last Christmas as was her intention.’
He told BBC Breakfast: ‘It’s extraordinary… because her honesty and her up-frontness was exactly what one knew and exactly what one expected, but it made it more painful.
‘It’s this thing where people state things as they are rather than trying to colour it in any way, it’s so much more moving and painful.’
Lynda in a 1983 Oxo advert alongside on-screen daughter Alison Reynolds, on-screen husband Michael Redfern and on-screen sons Jason Norman and Nicholas Stroud
Lynda (pictured, left, in 1976 when she appeared in ‘Yus My Dear’) also took part in the 2009 series of Strictly Come Dancing (right)
Lynda fronted a number of campaigns after telling of her experiences of the issue during her marriage to Nunzio Peluso, an Italian businessman.
Sharon Evans, from charity Dot Com Children’s Foundation, said her close friend Lynda went on trying to help people right up until her death.
She said: ‘It is incredibly sad that Lynda Bellingham, who was my dear friend and patron of our charity, died so young.
‘I met Lynda during a police campaign against domestic violence 12 years ago and she went on to help me launch the Dot Com Learning programme.’
She added: ‘The programme helps prevent children from suffering violence and abuse and Lynda was passionate about children being safe having seen how her own children were affected by the violence.
‘She was a powerful children’s champion and she went on trying to help people right until the end. We loved her very much.’
Star who won nation’s heart as beloved Oxo advert mother – but Lynda Bellingham joked ‘no half respected actor’ would have taken the role
In a career which spanned five decades, Lynda Bellingham – best known as the ‘Oxo mum’ thanks to the long-running series of adverts – was loved for her frank and funny style.
She was born Meredith Lee Hughes in Montreal, Quebec, on May 31, 1948, but her unmarried mother was forced to give her up due to a strict Jewish family and she was adopted by a British couple, Donald and Ruth Bellingham.
She only discovered the truth about her past when in her teens and she later said that a desire to be loved led her into acting, as it created in her a need to please audiences.
She was born in Canada before moving to Buckinghamshire at a young age and studying drama in London
She studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama before landing a series of roles in theatre, film and TV
She got her first taste of stage success at school before going on to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.
Starting out on the stage, one of her first appearances came in the Crewe Theatre Company’s production of Lysistrata in 1970.
She then moved into television, with one of her first big roles coming as Hilda Price, a nurse in the ITV soap General Hospital.
The Oxo role for which she will be best remembered was given to her in 1983 and she became a regular on British TV screens for decades as the wholesome middle-class gravy-making matriarch.
The mother-of-two once joked that while no ‘half respected actor’ would have considered the role, it had afforded her a ‘nice house, and school for her children’.
One of Lynda’s first TV roles was in 1972 when she played Hilda Price, a nurse in the ITV soap General Hospital
She later appeared as the lead role in the 1996 series Faith in the Future, alongside Julia Sawalha (second from right), whose sister would later join Lynda on the Loose Women panel
In one of her more recent parts, she starred as in a lead role in a West End production of Calender Girls
She also starred as Helen Herriot in All Creatures Great And Small, alongside Christopher Timothy, who described the actress as ‘a real friend’.
She took the title role in sitcom Faith In The Future, and on stage, has appeared at the Old Vic and the Royal Court and in the West End production of Calendar Girls.
Her first marriage, to film producer Greg Smith, fell apart due to his series of affairs and her second, a 16-year marriage to Italian restaurateur Nunzio Peluso with whom she had two sons, Michael and Robbie, was abusive.
She later campaigned against domestic violence was awarded an OBE in 2013 for her charity work.
In 2008 she married her third husband, mortgage broker Michael Pattemore, who has since been described as ‘her rock’.
Lynda talks to Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall talks, at a Barnado’s charity reception in May 2010
The following year she appeared in the BBC’s Strictly Come Dancing, but was voted off on her fourth appearance.
She also tracked down her birth mother in Canada and spoke to her on the phone, but was left heartbroken when her birth mother died in 2012.
Lynda was touring while performing in the play A Passionate Woman when she announced her cancer diagnosis in 2013.
At first, she seemed optimistic about her future, but revealed in September this year that she had only months to live because the cancer had spread.
Her autobiography, called There’s Something I’ve Been Dying To Tell You, was published just 10 days ago.
FOURTH BIGGEST KILLER WORLDWIDE: COLON CANCER LIKE THAT WHICH CLAIMED THE LIFE OF LYNDA KILLS SOMEONE EVERY 32 MINUTES IN THE UK
Of all cancers, bowel cancer is the fourth biggest killer worldwide, causing on average 694,000 deaths each year.
It claims a life every 32 minutes in the UK and more than 80 per cent of cases occur in people aged 60 or over, such as Lynda Bellingham.
She had been diagnosed with colon cancer little over a year ago, which later spread to her lungs and liver.
The spread of the cancer – known as metastasis – is very often what ends up killing the cancer patient.
Despite her diagnosis, Lynda remained positive and insisted death should be confronted
Metastasis is when cells from a tumour separate from it, find their way into the lymph system or the bloodstream, and spread throughout the body.
Particular types of tumours often spread to particular organs – in bowel cancer patients, it tends to be the liver.
This can disrupt the delicate balance of chemicals and salts in the body – with fatal consequences.
When cancer spreads to the lungs, there is eventually insufficient healthy tissue to absorb oxygen.
Or, explain scientists at UC Santa Barbara, the cancer can block off part of the lung. This area may collapse and become infected, which can lead to death.
Appearing on ITV’s This Morning two weeks ago, Lynda discussed how chemotherapy had affected her.
Lynda, pictured with her friends from Loose Women, said it was a relief to end chemotherapy and ‘take back control of her life’
She said: ‘There’s no getting away from it with chemo – the ulcers in your throat, the thrush, plus the fact I’d had major, life-saving surgery for a perforated colon. When you’re in terrible pain, you make decisions.’
She told hosts Phillip Schofield and Amanda Holden: ‘I want my husband and children to see me off happy, contented. So I put the chemotherapy in a box.
‘In this box, I could stop the chemotherapy after Christmas – I’m determined to hang on until Christmas.
‘If my quality of life fades after that, I want to be able to open the box, make a choice and stop the chemotherapy.’
She said before this, she’d had no control over the decision – but had struggled with the idea of refusing treatment offered. ‘I don’t want to look ungrateful,’ she explained.