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Why this Archers’ Actress Loves Being ‘Granny June’ to her Sponsored Child

Get to know national treasure, and one of radio’s most loved voices, June Spencer.


June Spencer

June Spencer CBE, who plays Peggy Woolley in The Archers, is a national treasure, but to her sponsored child in Thailand she is just ‘Granny June’. We recently caught up with June to hear more about her extraordinary acting career, celebrating her 100th birthday and why she's empowering the next generation. 

June, How long have you played Peggy in the Archers?

I’ve played Peggy since 1950 when we did the trial, and then when the programme started properly in 1951 (apart from a break when we adopted our two children). 

What was Peggy like in the early days?

She’s had an extraordinary life. She started as an East End girl. During the war, she met Jack Archer, her husband, and came to the village. She was new to village life and that, of course, was because they [the BBC] wanted to educate the listeners on farming matters. When they were explaining things to Peggy, they were explaining them to the listeners as well.

How has Peggy changed over the years?

Over the years she’s rather come up in the world! She kept the village pub for a long time and then she went to work for Jack Woolley, a very wealthy businessman, eventually marrying him. And now she appears to have untold wealth! I’m not quite sure where it all comes from, but she’s splashing it about a bit at the moment!

What’s been your favourite story line?

I think the most important one was the Alzheimer’s story. My husband [Roger Brocksom] had Alzheimer’s, so when they decided they would like to put that in the programme, they asked me how I would feel about doing it. I was all in favour of it because I thought that Alzheimer’s was something that should be brought into the open rather than being brushed under the carpet. [June was married to Roger from 1941 until his death in 2001].

Did you always want to be an actress?

I always wanted to entertain since I was so high. I was rather thrust into it at the age of three when the local drama school were looking for a very small, blond child (I was blond in those days) to play the King of the Land of Nod in a play they were doing. Somebody knew me and thought I would probably be suitable. I didn’t have any lines, so I gave myself a few!

June Spencer Peggy Woolley

What role has your Christian faith played in your life?

I remember when my husband had Alzheimer’s, then he had a stroke as well, and he was in a wheelchair so I needed to nurse him. We were both in our 80s then. I would be up early in the morning, had breakfast and everything by 8 o’clock, then I would go and get him ready. I was literally nursing him and looking after him pretty well all day.

Every night, I used to pray for patience to cope with the Alzheimer’s and strength to cope with the stroke. And I couldn’t have done it without God’s help. I really could not have done it. I look back now and I’m amazed at what I did.

Do you have a favourite Bible verse?

I love the verse from 1 Corinthians 13:4-8, “love is patient, love is kind”. Love is the most important thing in the world - pity there’s not more of it.

What was it like celebrating your 100th birthday?

My 100th birthday – well, that was fantastic. That started with a church service on the last Thursday in May. They said a few people are coming, but when it was time for me to be interviewed, I turned around and saw the church was full. It was fantastic. They asked me to name a charity to support through the service and I said Compassion.

What’s your secret to staying so young?!

I inherited good genes for a start. And having an optimistic outlook has helped!

June Spencer actress

How did you first hear about Compassion?

I first heard about Compassion through the church. Somebody there was talking about Compassion and I thought, “that sounds like a very good idea”. So I began sponsoring Ploy from Thailand. Ploy was nine when I started 12 years ago. I said to her, “I’m very old, so perhaps I could be another granny for you!” She’s at university now. She’s got one more year to go.

How has Ploy changed over the years?

From nine to 21, she’s changed so much. She was a little girl, so worried about her lessons. She would ask me to pray for her classes and her exams. She obviously did very well, because she’s now at university. During her long summer break, Compassion gave her a job in their office. She’s not able to get back home very often, because the university is a long way from where she lives.

Has it been encouraging to build a relationship with Ploy?

I’ve had so much love from her. It’s lovely. So affectionate. Her photo is with our family photos and she’s part of our family. I find I want to write a lot more than I can get on those little forms. I guess it would be better if I could write on this internet thing! When we were able to Skype on my 100th birthday, we were opening our arms to each other - longing to hug electronically!

June Spencer Peggy Woolley

Do you have any advice for someone considering sponsoring a child?

I’d say go for it! It’s so rewarding. I shall carry on sponsoring Ploy for as long as I am around! There is so much misery, illness and ill treatment of children throughout the world. That’s why it’s such a relief to know Ploy is looked after.

What are your hopes and dreams for Ploy?

I want her to be happy, that’s the main thing.

If you’d like to follow June’s example, find out more about sponsoring a child today. Provide a child with life-changing support including food, education, health-checks and the care of a local church. 



WORDS : Becca Stanley

PHOTOS : Sarah Sullivan


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