Actress Emma Chambers dies aged 53

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Media captionVicar of Dibley’s Alice Tinker: “I can’t believe it’s not butter”

Actors Dawn French and Hugh Grant have led tributes to their former co-star Emma Chambers, who has died aged 53.

Known for playing Alice Tinker in The Vicar of Dibley, Doncaster-born Chambers also had roles in Notting Hill and a Martin Chuzzlewit adaptation.

Chambers died from natural causes on Wednesday evening and would be “greatly missed”, her agent John Grant said.

“Emma created a wealth of characters and an immense body of work,” he added.

She leaves a husband, fellow actor Ian Dunn.

French, who starred in The Vicar of Dibley alongside Chambers for 13 years, paid tribute to a “very bright spark and the most loyal and loving friend anyone could wish for”.

“I will miss her very much”, she said, while also posting a picture of the pair on Twitter.

Notting Hill star Hugh Grant, who played the older brother of Chambers’ character Honey in the 1999 film, spoke of his sadness following the news, adding: “She brought laughter and joy to many.”

Other well-wishers included Emma Freud, the partner of Richard Curtis, who created both the film and the TV comedy.

Chambers played the character of Alice Tinker, a village church verger, in The Vicar of Dibley between 1994 and 2007, with French in the title role.

In 1998, she won the British Comedy Award for best TV actress for her performance.

Jon Plowman, executive producer of the series and former head of comedy at the BBC, described Chambers as “bright and clever”.

He said: “Emma was a gifted comic actress who made any part she played – no matter how ditzy or other worldly – look easy.”

‘It was a joy’

Chambers would go over every line to make sure she got the rhythm and the tone of the lunatic she was playing, says Paul Mayhew-Archer, co-writer of the Vicar of Dibley.

He told BBC Radio 5 live that despite most comedy series having an idiot, “she made Alice a completely unique, very special idiot”.

“The joy of the scenes with Emma and Dawn is they never went wrong, so you just got these wonderful first takes – so you got all that original energy transferred straight on to the screen – it was a joy.”

Image caption Chambers was known for playing Alice Tinker in The Vicar of Dibley, alongside Dawn French
Image caption She was named best TV comedy actress in 1998 for her portrayal of Alice
Image caption She appeared as Charity Pecksniff (right) in a BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ Martin Chuzzlewit

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