Lynda Bellingham: “I have cancer”

The star of All Creatures Great and Small and Loose Women has postponed her UK tour of Kay Mellor's play A Passionate Woman

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Actress and presenter Lynda Bellingham has revealed she’s been diagnosed with cancer. 

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The 65-year-old, best known for her role in All Creatures Great and Small as well as her regular appearances on ITV panel show Loose Women, has postponed a UK tour of Kay Mellor’s play A Passionate Woman scheduled to begin in September while she takes time out to undergo treatment. 

“I’m devastated not to be able to honour my commitments to the play this year,” she announced in a statement. “But having toured many times before, I’m aware of the sheer stamina needed and I need to prioritise my recovery. That said, nothing’s going to stop me coming back next year, and I can’t wait to be ‘a passionate woman’.”

Bellingham – who appeared in the Oxo TV adverts from the 1980s and ’90s and competed in series seven of Strictly Come Dancing – currently presents Country House Sunday on ITV, touring the UK’s stately homes.

She has not disclosed the nature of her disease, but has been an active supporter of Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support since her sister, Barbara, died of lung cancer last year. 

Artistic director of Sheffield Theatres, Daniel Evans, said, “A Passionate Woman is an extraordinary play about an extraordinary woman, and that woman is Lynda Bellingham.

“She is the heart of this production, and it’s inconceivable that we would do it without her. Our priority is to Lynda and her health, and we look forward to welcoming her back soon.”

Playwright Kay Mellor – who was also due to direct the production – told BBC Radio Leads, “It’s really sad, I can’t believe that a woman so vibrant could be so poorly.

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“The play will wait, Lynda has to get well, that’s where my thoughts are now. She’s a mother, a wife, a sister. Those things are much more important than a play.”