Like most of the nation, I am shocked and saddened by the sad news that the lovely Lynda Bellingham has lost her battle against cancer. Even though the sixty-six year old had announced just a couple of weeks ago that she was in the terminal stages of the illness and had made the brave decision to stop having chemotherapy treatment, nobody expected her to slip away so quickly. The Canadian-born actress passed away last Sunday in the arms of her beloved husband Michael Pattemore – who she affectionately nicknamed Mr. Spain. Lynda had recently announced that her dearest wish was to have just one last Christmas with her husband and her sons, Michael and Robert, and it’s heart-breaking that her final wish won’t be fulfilled.
As expected, tributes came flooding in from the world of showbiz. Lynda had had an extensive TV and stage career and had worked and become friends with many well known people in the entertainment industry. Her colleagues from Loose Women, where she had been a panellist, opened up Monday’s show with a tribute to their dear friend which saw Colleen Nolan become tearful though she did her best to keep it together, as the Loose Women team wanted it to be a celebration of Lynda’s extraordinary life, and they even admitted that Lynda would just want them to ‘get on with it.’
Members of the public took to social media to express their sadness at the loss of the much-loved star. It goes to show that whether you knew her or not, Lynda made a big impact on everyone. Actress and presenter, Nadia Sawalha, said that Lynda loved the fame aspect of her job and liked the fact that she was appreciated the public, but she never milked her celebrity status, and behaved with the grace and class that we love her for. Indeed many of today’s so-called celebrities – many of whom are famous for being famous – could learn a thing or two from her.
Like many people of my generation, I first saw Lynda when she appeared as the mum in the series of OXO commercials which began in the 1980s and ran for sixteen years. She was apparently chosen from thousands of actresses who auditioned for the part, and I don’t think any of us could ever imagine that role being played by anyone other than Lynda. Despite epitomizing the perfect mother in those ads – warm, wholesome, content at being at the heart of the family, and bringing everyone together with delicious home cooking – her Loose Women co-presenters revealed that she hated people telling her that they wanted her to be their ‘Mum’ and she was concerned that she’d only ever be remembered for those OXO ads. Although she played matriarchal roles on many occasions, the real-life Lynda was far from ‘mumsy.’ As well as being incredibly beautiful, Lynda came across as energetic, vivacious, opinionated, feisty and very funny, and that’s something that came through in many of the parts she played.
So while, yes, us kids of the eighties will think of her as the OXO mum – a role that gave Lynda a platform to become one of our best-known actresses – we also remember the other work she’s famous for including BBC’s All Creatures Great And Small, At Home With The Braithwaites, Martin Chuzzelwit, Doctor Who, Angels, Couples , The Sweeny, theatre production of Calendar Girls and even The Bill, where she played villainess, Irene Radford – a role as far removed from the OXO mum as you can get. And the list most definitely goes on! And let’s not forget that Lynda was also an accomplished broadcaster, author and columnist. But one of Lynda’s roles which is most memorable for me was that of Faith Grayshot, the character she played in ITV’s nineties sit-com Second Thoughts; a divorced mother of two teens who embarks on a new romance. There are some real laugh out loud moments in Second Thoughts, and although the character of Faith Grayshot isn’t that much of a departure from the OXO mum, she’s a little edgier and feistier, and tries to put her own needs first occasionally. When Second Thoughts ended, Lynda starred in the spin-off Faith In The Future which saw Faith start the next phase of her life as a single woman.
Lynda had started acting long before I was born, and she was on our screens right up until she passed away. I’ve grown up watching her and I don’t remember a time when she wasn’t on the telly or giving an interview in a magazine. There really are no words to describe her loss – a loss that is felt the hardest by her family and friends. Even though we will remember her for her talent, mesmerising screen presence and her generous smile, the tributes and lovely things that have been said about her in the last couple of days prove that her greatest roles were the one that wasn’t scripted – and that’s the roles of wife. mother and friend.
Lynda Bellingham, you will be sorely missed.