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June Spencer, 103, retires from 'The Archers' after 70 years

June Spencer has retired from the radio show "The Archers" after 70 years. Photo courtesy of the BBC
June Spencer has retired from the radio show "The Archers" after 70 years. Photo courtesy of the BBC

Aug. 8 (UPI) -- The BBC radio show The Archers is paying tribute to the character of Peggy Woolley, whose 103-year-old portrayer recently retired 70 years after she originated the role.

Spencer's final episode as Peggy was broadcast on July 31.

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On Monday night's episode, Peggy's son, Tony (David Troughton), will reflect on what an extraordinary woman she is.

"In 1950, I helped to plant an acorn. It took root and in January 1951, it was planted out and called The Archers. Over the years, it has thrived and become a splendid great tree with many branches," Spencer said in a statement Monday. "But now this old branch, known as Peggy, has become weak and unsafe, so I decided it was high time she 'boughed' out, so I have duly lopped her."

Despite Spencer's exit, Peggy has not been written off of the show.

The actress told Sky News the simplest conclusion is to have Peggy fall and end up in the fictional show's nursing home, The Laurels.

"She can languish for years there," Spencer said.

Jeremy Howe, editor of The Archers, described Peggy in a press release as "one of the great creations of broadcasting -- utterly charming, utterly ruthless, sharp as a knife and witty in spades."

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"To think that June has commanded the airwaves over an Archers career of over 70 years beggars belief," he said. "I have rarely worked with such an inventive, focused and technically brilliant actor, or such a lovely person. Myself and The Archers team and cast wish June a well-deserved and long retirement -- and I know that if she doesn't think the show is up to the mark, June will be letting us know. Bravo the legend that is June Spencer."

Camilla, the duchess of Cornwall, called Peggy "a true national treasure" and said the fictional character "has been part of my life, and millions of others, for as long as I can remember."

The show is the world's longest running serial drama.

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