Vicar of Dibley star Emma Chambers died after suffering a suspected heart attack, a friend has said.
Former BBC executive producer Jon Plowman broke the news on Radio 4 this morning, saying: “It’s no age to have a heart attack, as I understand it.”
Mr Plowman, who produced the Vicar of Dibley and later became head of comedy at the BBC, added: “Emma was a gifted comic actress who made any part she played look easy.
“She was adored by the cast and crew.”
Chambers died of natural causes at the age of 53 on Wednesday evening, but the news of her death was not announced until Saturday.
Her agent, John Grant, said in a statement: “We are very sad to announce the untimely death, from natural causes, of the acclaimed actress, Emma Chambers.
“Over the years, Emma, created a wealth of characters and an immense body of work. She brought laughter and joy to many, and will be greatly missed.
“At this difficult time we ask that the privacy of the family and loved ones be respected.”
Tributes have poured in for the actress, best known for playing lovable Alice Tinker in The Vicar of Dibley and ditzy Honey in Notting Hill.
Dawn French, her co-star in the Vicar of Dibley for between 1994 and 2007, paid tribute by posting a photo on Twitter of the pair lying on the sofa together.
She wrote: “I was regularly humped like this by the unique & beautiful spark that was Emma Chambers.
“I never minded. I loved her. A lot”
She added in a statement: “Emma was a very bright spark and the most loyal and loving friend anyone could wish for. I will miss her very much.”
Hugh Grant, who acting alongside Chambers in Notting Hill, said on Twitter: “Emma Chambers was a hilarious and very warm person and of course a brilliant actress. Very sad news.”
Chambers, who also had a role in a television adaptation of Martin Chuzzlewit, won the British Comedy Award for best TV actress for her role in The Vicar of Dibley in 1998.
She is survived by her husband, actor Ian Dunn.