June Spencer has no plans to quit The Archers as she approaches 100th birthday

11th Jun 19 | Entertainment News

The soon-to-be centenarian, who plays Peggy Woolley, is the only original member of the cast still in the BBC Radio 4 rural drama.

June Spencer

The Archers star June Spencer has vowed not to retire as she prepares to celebrate her 100th birthday.

The soon-to-be centenarian has been a familiar voice to millions over the years as matriarch Peggy Woolley in the world’s longest-running soap.

She is the only original member of the cast still in the BBC Radio 4 rural drama.

June Spencer in 1946
June Spencer in 1946, before The Archers (The Archers/BBC/PA)

Speaking days before her big milestone on Friday, she told the Press Association she has no intention of hanging up her microphone.

“As soon as I start being more trouble than I’m worth I shall stop,” she said.

But the veteran actress added: “I just love it. I think it’s what keeps me going.”

Spencer told the Press Association that turning 100 felt “pretty good” and “very interesting”.

The Archers in 1958, Back row, l-r: Peggy Archer (June Spencer), Paul Johnson (Leslie Dunn), Jack Archer (Denis Folwell), Philip Archer (Norman Painting) Front row l-r: Mrs (Doris) Archer (Gwen Berryman), Dan Archer (Harry Oakes), Christine Johnson (Lesley Saweard), Jennifer Archer (unidentified actress), Lillian Archer (unidentified actress), Jill Archer (Patricia Greene)
June Spencer (back row left) with the rest of The Archers cast in 1958 (The Archers/BBC/PA)

She said: “Obviously one’s body deteriorates rapidly – I’m still on my feet, just.

“But apart from that I have the same outlook on life as I’ve always had. I’m an optimist. I enjoy life. I enjoy all the beautiful things that are still there for me.”

It is almost 70 years since the Nottingham-born actress first joined The Archers for a pilot episode in 1950.

Spencer, believed to be the world’s longest-serving soap actress, knows her character better than some of the show’s writers.

June Spencer as Peggy Archer and Denis Folwell as Jack in The Archers in 1951 (The Archers/BBC/PA)

“We have marvellous scriptwriters but new ones come in who haven’t known Peggy from years gone by,” she said.

“The heyday of my broadcasting was before the entire cast and directors were born, long before.

“So quite often they do refer to me about something. Or I say ‘you’ve got that wrong, it was so and so’.”

Spencer – whose first on-air husband, Jack Archer, was a gambler and an alcoholic, and second, Jack Woolley, suffered from dementia in a moving storyline, said she is “given concessions”.

Arnold Peters as Jack and June Spencer as Peggy getting married on the 40th anniversary edition of The Archers in 1991
Arnold Peters as Jack and June Spencer as Peggy getting married on the 40th anniversary edition of The Archers in 1991 (The Archers/BBC/PA)

She said: “I’m looked after so well in the studio. Wherever possible they give me sitting-down scenes.

“My character, Peggy, is about five years younger than I am. She has to be helped into cars, I don’t!”

The actress, who is about to be involved in another major storyline, said her alter-ego is still evolving.

“For a long, long time Peggy didn’t seem to have a sense of humour but she’s beginning to develop a sense of humour now.”

– The Archers continues on Tuesday at 7pm, plus hear June Spencer as part of Living Memory on Radio 4 on BBC Sounds on Friday June 14 at 1.45pm

© Press Association 2019

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