The Archers’ June Spencer, 103, retires from BBC drama after 72 years in role

June Spencer has become the last original member of The Archers cast to step down from the BBC Radio 4 show after 73 years.

The actress, 103, has played the iconic matriarch Peggy Woolley (formerly Archer) since the programme launched back in 1951 but has now confirmed she'll be stepping down.

However, June, also explained that she had been planning to retire for around a year but hadn't found the right moment to depart the role.

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June became the longest-serving soap actor in the world, surpassing her former The Archers co-star, Lesley Saweard.

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, June said: "I've been trying to retire for at least a year.

"They didn't want to lose her character, every time I tried to stop, they gave me more episodes.

"The idea was that the country characters having to explain things to Peggy educated the listeners."

Peggy also shared how she believes the long-running soap opera should announce her departure from the show.

She went on to tell the publication: "The simplest thing is if (Peggy has) a fall or something and goes into The Laurels (a fictional care home), she can languish for years there."

Her character, Peggy, was seen as a traditionalist, conservative character in the fictional town of Ambridge.

Over the years, she's amassed many fans but most famously, the Duchess of Cornwall, who had previously invited June and her co-stars to her London residence, Clarence House to celebrate the show's 70th anniversary.

Sharing her thoughts on June, Camilla said: "[June is] a true national treasure who has been part of my life, and millions of others, for as long as I can remember."

June's final episode was broadcast on June 31, with the episode being recorded from her home in Surrey to save her making the journey to Birmingham where the soap is recorded.

Meanwhile, editor of The Archers, Jeremy Howe said: "I think working with June Spencer has been one of the greatest privileges of my many decades in drama.

"Her Peggy is one of the great creations of broadcasting – utterly charming, utterly ruthless, sharp as a knife and witty in spades.

"To think that June has commanded the airwaves over an Archers career of over 70 years beggars belief."

Over the course of her career, June took a break from the show in the mid-1950s and was subsequently replaced by Thelma Rogers.

She returned to the show in the 1960s when Thelma announced she would be leaving.


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