Betty Marsden, actress; born February 24, 1919, died July 18, 191998

Veteran comedy actress Betty Marsden has died at the age of 79. The star of the 1960s BBC Radio series, Round the Horne, had been suffering from heart problems and pneumonia but appeared to have made a strong recovery.

She appeared for ENSA during the Second World War, and was still working until 10 days ago, playing the part of a ''hag'' in a BBC radio version of the Narnia series.

She is probably best remembered by millions of fans of Round the Horne for her stream of comic voices, such as that of ''Fanny Haddock'', a deep-voiced spoof of the celebrity chef of the day, Fanny Cradock, and the ludicrous romantic exchanges as Fiona to Hugh Paddick's Charles, but she went into comedy only after years as a straight actress.

Born in Liverpool, she got her first break - and made her first headlines - in 1938 while an understudy in a West End play, when the leading actress fainted after just one line, and she took over.

She met her husband, Edinburgh-born Dr James Wilson Muggoch, then an army doctor, when she was on a troop ship entertaining the forces, and they married in Nigeria. They had two children, and had been married for three decades when he died.

During the 1950s, already a name on the West End stage, she found new success raising laughs in the theatrical revues of the period. In the late fifties/early sixties, she appeared with Stanley Baxter in a BBC television light entertainment programme called Look on the Bright Side.

After appearances on television - and wider fame in Round the Horne with Kenneth Horne and Kenneth Williams - she found further critical success in the Joe Orton farce What The Butler Saw at the Royal Court and, inevitably, as Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest.

Her daughter, Lindsay Morgan, said Miss Marsden died suddenly in the bar of the Actor's Charitable Trust Home in Northwood, north-west London. ''She had gone there for a couple of weeks and was having a drink with some friends. She didn't spill a drop,'' said Ms Morgan.