Actress and presenter Lynda Bellingham died yesterday in her husband Michael's arms, her agent has said.

The 66-year-old star, best known for her long-running role as a mother in the Oxo TV adverts, had been battling colon cancer, which later spread to her lungs and liver, since being diagnosed in July last year.

The actress said she decided to end her treatment on August 13 to limit the amount of suffering her family would witness.

In a statement on behalf of Bellingham's family, her agent, Sue Latimer, said: "Lynda died peacefully in her husband's arms yesterday at a London hospital.

"Her family would like to thank the nurses and staff for their tremendous care and support.

"Actor, writer and presenter - to the end Lynda was a consummate professional."

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Bellingham's decision to end her treatment was revealed in a newspaper serialisation of her autobiography.

She had said she would like to see one last Christmas.

Bellingham said: "The decision to give up chemo was a huge relief because I took back some control of myself. It's there on the table if I want it.

"I don't want the boys or my husband to see me die a little sad old lady. I want to go out there as I am."

She said she wanted her autobiography to be "uplifting", adding: "I wrote the book for everybody out there.

"It's not supposed to be an embarrassing account of me having terminal cancer.

"I wanted to write it for everybody who is given that curveball and say of course there are no answers but, if you can, take it and make it positive and talk about dying.

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"If two people read this book and think 'Actually, that's how I feel and I'm not on my own', then I'll have done something half decent."

Bellingham, who took part in the 2009 series of Strictly Come Dancing, was also a panellist on ITV show Loose Women in recent years.

She filmed a special farewell episode of the ITV show, which is yet to air, in which she received a standing ovation.
She also presented a number of other programmes, following an acting career which saw her star in dramas such as At Home With The Braithwaites and The Bill.

Stars paid tribute to Bellingham on Twitter.

Actor Simon Pegg, who starred with the actress in 1990s TV show Faith In The Future, said: "Lynda Bellingham, a gorgeous, brassy, funny, generous, talented human being. My first TV mother figure and a treasured friend."

Actress and presenter Amanda Holden wrote: "So devastated to hear the news about the beautiful Lynda Bellingham."

Kirstie Allsopp said: "Lynda Bellingham, she was an inspiration, she so wanted to make it to Christmas, if you're working towards that, don't give up hope.

Fellow presenter Ben Shephard said: "So so sad to hear that the gorgeous Lynda Bellingham has passed away. She was just wonderful to be around and will be sorely missed."

Bellingham's pre-recorded farewell appearance on Loose Women is due to be screened on Wednesday.