The much loved actress Emma Chambers - who starred as the Vicar of Dibley's dippy verger - has died at the age of 53.

She was best known for playing Alice Tinker in the BBC's gentle sit-com, written by Richard Curtis, about a female vicar and her eccentric parishioners.

Her agent John Grant said Ms Chambers, who also starred in the 1999 film Notting Hill with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, died from natural causes on Wednesday evening and would be "greatly missed".

Mr Grant added: "Emma created a wealth of characters and an immense body of work. She brought laughter and joy to many".

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Her Notting Hill co-star Hugh Grant led tributes to the star, tweeting: "Emma Chambers was a hilarious and very warm person and of course a brilliant actress. Very sad news."

Fans of The Vicar of Dibley expressed their sadness at Ms Chamber's death, describing her as an "amazingly talented and hilarious actress who lit up people's televisions" and a "comic genius".


Co-writer of the sitcom actor Paul Mayhew-Archer, 65, hailed her "amazing" talents.
"I loved working with her, she was stunning. I am devastated, she was a key part of the Vicar of Dibley,"he said.

"I used to love watching her going over her lines in rehearsal, she would read them to herself and try to find the perfect delivery.

"Alice became completely central to the piece, it was just perfect.

"Most sitcoms have an idiot of some sort but she managed to make her idiot completely different, it was amazing.

"The last time I saw her was the last episode, all of my memories are to do with the programme, her passing was so sudden."

Before her first break in television in 1994, with the role of Charity Pecksniff in the TV serialisation of the Charles Dickens novel Martin Chuzzlewit, the Doncaster-born had spent a decade honing her craft on the stage.

In 2000, she was cast as Martha Thompson in Take a Girl Like You, a made for TV drama based on the Kingsley Amis novel and a remake of the 1970 film.

Curtis's partner, the writer Emma Freud, paid tribute to Ms Chambers, writing on Twitter: "Our beautiful friend has died at the age of 53. We're very very sad. She was a great, great comedy performer, and a truly fine actress. And a tender, sweet, funny, unusual, loving human being."


James Dreyfus, who starred alongside her in Notting Hill, wrote: "RIP the wonderful and talented Emma Chambers. Unique & unspeakably funny. Too young. Thoughts with her family. X"

Jeremy Clarkson, the former Top Gear presenter, recalled Chambers being "very funny".
He wrote on Twitter: "I'm sad about Emma Chambers. Knew her when she was a kid in Doncaster."


Jonathan Sothcott, the film producer, said: "RIP the wonderful Emma Chambers - best known for The Vicar of Dibley but also stole every scene in Notting Hill. Only 53."

Chambers was asthmatic and seriously allergic to animals - unable to touch them or anything they had come into contact with.

In 2002, she told The Telegraph that her allergy could leave her needing a steroid injection or being rushed to hospital.

Ms Chambers is survived by her husband, fellow actor Ian Dunn.