Michael Berkeley talks to June Spencer, as she celebrates her 100th birthday, about her life-long love of music and the seven decades she’s spent playing Peggy in The Archers.
June Spencer can walk down the street unrecognised, but as soon as she starts to speak, she’s known instantly by millions. That’s because, since the very first episode in 1950, she’s played Peggy in The Archers – that’s more than 68 years. The only remaining member of the original cast, she’s been honoured with both an OBE and a CBE.
As part of the celebrations for her 100th birthday she talks to Michael Berkeley about her life-long love of music. A keen pianist, she had to leave school at 14 to look after her sick mother, but persisted with music and acting classes and forged a successful career on stage and in radio.
June tells Michael why she thinks The Archers has such enduring appeal and why it’s so important for the series to have topical and challenging story lines. For many years her character Peggy struggled with her husband Jack Woolley’s Alzheimer’s - a disease which sadly claimed the life of June’s own husband.
June chooses music by Vivaldi which reminds her of her late son David, a talented ballet dancer; pieces by Rossini and by Bruch which recall her Mediterranean holiday home; and music by Mendelssohn and by Rachmaninov which reminds her of the early days of her acting career.
These pieces illuminate a moving conversation between June and Michael about the realities of old age and the pleasure of memory.
Producer: Jane Greenwood
A Loftus production for BBC Radio 3.