Page last updated at 14:44 GMT, Thursday, 16 July 2009 15:44 UK

Wendy Richard's last role shown

By Michael Osborn
Entertainment reporter, BBC News

Wendy Richard as Mrs Crump in Marple
Wendy Richard was suffering from cancer when she filmed Marple

The final dramatic role of actress Wendy Richard, who died in February, has been screened for the first time.

The former EastEnder's performance as the cook in a forthcoming episode of Agatha Christie's Marple was shown at an ITV press screening.

Richard's widower John Burns told the BBC she would have been "delighted" with the finished product.

Actress Julia McKenzie, who plays the sleuth, said Richard was "amazing" during filming last year.

Tribute to Campbell

"Wendy obviously knew she was suffering from cancer, but you wouldn't have known that at all.

"She was thoroughly professional and very pleasant company to be with all the time," said McKenzie, known for her roles in Cranford and 1980s sitcom Fresh Fields.

Richard plays Mrs Crump, head of a stately home's kitchen, in the murder mystery A Pocket Full of Rye.

Mr Burns, who said that she "loved" filming the drama, revealed that she cultivated the character's West Country accent after going out to eat with some friends who come from the area.

Ken Campbell in Law and Order
Ken Campbell's other roles included in 1970s show Law and Order

McKenzie also paid tribute to actor Ken Campbell, who also made his final dramatic performance in A Pocket Full of Rye.

Campbell, who died in September aged 66, played butler Mr Crump - Richard's on-screen husband in the Marple drama.

"I've never know someone quite so dynamic in my whole life," said McKenzie.

"You just never knew what was coming out of Ken. In one scene, he started to rather fancy Marple. That was Ken and that wasn't in the script! He always did the unexpected."

McKenzie has taken over the role from Geraldine McEwan, who made more than 12 Marple dramas for ITV over the course of three years.

Other actresses to portray the sharp-minded spinster include Joan Hickson and Margaret Rutherford.

A Pocket Full of Rye and three other Marple murder mysteries are due to be shown on ITV1 later this year.

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Actress Wendy Richard dies at 65
26 Feb 09 |  Entertainment
Actress McKenzie to play Marple
11 Feb 08 |  Entertainment
Miss Marple actress to leave show
23 Jan 08 |  Entertainment
Actor Ken Campbell dies aged 66
02 Sep 08 |  Entertainment

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