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Pretty in Pink: Lynda Bellingham's last request of lively send-off honoured

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File photo dated 27/04/14 of actress Lynda Bellingham, as friends and family were due to gather to say goodbye to the actress who died last month Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

File photo dated 27/04/14 of actress Lynda Bellingham, as friends and family were due to gather to say goodbye to the actress who died last month Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

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File photo dated 27/04/14 of actress Lynda Bellingham, as friends and family were due to gather to say goodbye to the actress who died last month Jonathan Brady/PA Wire

Christopher Biggins was among the stars of the showbiz world gathering today to say goodbye to actress Lynda Bellingham at her funeral.

The TV star, wearing a bright pink suit and pale shirt, was accompanied to the service at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset, by his partner, Neil Sinclair.

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A general view of St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset, where the funeral of Lynda Bellingham is due to take place Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

A general view of St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset, where the funeral of Lynda Bellingham is due to take place Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

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A floral tribute is carried into the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

A floral tribute is carried into the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

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The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

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Christopher Biggins arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Christopher Biggins arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

The hearse arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Ben Birchall/PA Wire

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Gyles Brandreth and wife Michele Brown arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Gyles Brandreth and wife Michele Brown arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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Julia Sawalha (second left) and fellow mourners arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset  Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Julia Sawalha (second left) and fellow mourners arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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Robert Lindsay arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Robert Lindsay arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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Julian Fellowes arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Julian Fellowes arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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Coleen Nolan arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Coleen Nolan arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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Helen Worth and husband Trevor Dawson arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Helen Worth and husband Trevor Dawson arriving for the funeral of Lynda Bellingham at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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Lynda Bellingham's on-screen husband from the Oxo adverts Michael Redfern arriving for the funeral of Lynda at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Lynda Bellingham's on-screen husband from the Oxo adverts Michael Redfern arriving for the funeral of Lynda at St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

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A general view of St Bartholomew's Church in Crewkerne, Somerset, where the funeral of Lynda Bellingham is due to take place Andrew Matthews/PA Wire

Asked about his suit, Biggins replied: "She (Lynda) would like this, put a smile on her face."

Many of the guests arriving at the church were carrying umbrellas due to the rain, as more than 100 members of the public lined the path outside the church to pay their respects.

Bellingham had asked for a lively send-off, so her husband, Michael Pattemore, has lined up a string of acts to make the funeral a Royal Variety-style celebration of the much-loved actress's life.

Her friend, former Archdeacon of London Peter Delaney MBE, is leading the service at the church, which holds 300 guests.

A memorial service will take place in London in February next year.

Among the showbiz stars gathering for the funeral were Loose Women Coleen Nolan, Jane McDonald, Andrea McLean and Kate Thornton, as well as Julia Sawalha, Coronation Street's Helen Worth, Robert Lindsay, Giles Brandreth and Downton Abbey's Julian Fellowes.

Also attending was her screen husband from the hit Oxo adverts, Michael Redfern.

The actress, who died of cancer last month, was 66.

The TV star, best known for her long-running role as the mother in a squabbling family the Oxo adverts since the 1980s, had colon cancer which later spread to her lungs and liver.

She was diagnosed last July but recently said she had decided to end her treatment to limit the amount of suffering her family would witness.

In her last few weeks, she spoke openly about her illness and its effect on her family.

One of her last wishes was to spend one more Christmas at home with them, but Mr Pattemore said the advanced state of her illness meant it was clear she was unable to die at home as she dearly wished.

He told Yours magazine, for which his late wife was a columnist: "She was in too much pain and they didn't have it under control enough for me to be able to look after her.""

He said: "I can tell you now that the words on her gravestone will be 'The curtain went up on May 31 1948, and the final curtain went down on October 19 2014'."

Bellingham's acting career included the title role in sitcom Faith In The Future and regular stage roles.

She was also a regular on panel show Loose Women, and filmed a special farewell episode where she spoke about her illness.

Her Loose Women co-presenter Nadia Sawalha, who also appeared with her in the Oxo adverts, paid tribute to a "brilliant actress".

She said Bellingham told her fellow Loose Women panellists: "'Please, when I'm gone, have a big party for me and have a dance' and that's Lynda through and through."

The actress's decision to end her treatment was revealed in a newspaper serialisation of her autobiography which was published 10 days before she died.

The mother-of-two was awarded an OBE in the New Year Honours list for her charity work.

Bellingham, whose sister Barbara died from lung cancer, had been a high-profile supporter of Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

The actress, who was adopted, published a best-selling memoir, Lost And Found, which dealt with her search for her birth mother. She also wrote a novel, Tell Me Tomorrow, which was published last year.

She married Pattemore, who was her third husband, on her 60th birthday.

The service began as Bellingham's husband Michael, and sons Michael, 31, and Robert, 26, helped carry her wooden coffin adorned with white flowers into the church as Elgar's Nimrod - The Enigma Variations played.

Mourners following in behind the coffin wept as they carried single white roses. The congregation sang the hymn Lead us heavenly Father before Loose Women star Lisa Maxwell read The Epistle to the Romans (ch 8.31-39)

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