For someone who has passed away at only 66 years old, Lynda Bellingham was a formative part of my childhood. Instantly recognisable as the mum in the Oxo adverts; my favourite one – ‘How’s your pulse Alison?’ and as James Herriot’s wife in the BBC All Creature’s Great and Small dramatisation, reading the tributes online to her, there doesn’t seem to be anyone in the UK show business industry who has a bad word to say about her.
Everyone has written that she was lovely, gracious, kind, generous, that she walked into a room and it would light up, and all talk about her proper bath-water gurgle of a laugh. The interview that Ms Bellingham gave to Woman’s Hour just eleven days ago where she talked frankly about her colon cancer and her wish to make one last Christmas with her boys and husband reduced me to tears.
A survivor triumphant of domestic abuse, she wrote that it was hard being seen as the model of domesticity on the television to go home and be assaulted. Ashamed, she hid the abuse for a long time, finally finding happiness with her husband Michael, in who’s arms she died. Earlier than she’d hoped, I hope that it was the calm dignified exit that she’d wanted.
This picture of her in 1972 shows her incandescent beauty. Despite being very poorly and fragile, the twinkle in her eye and wide, stunning smile were still there when I was watching clips of her online from the last of her TV appearances in the UK last week. Life is too short, by sharing her story, Lynda Bellingham asked us all to talk to our family and friends tell them that you love them.