Actress Mary Millar, a television star and veteran of the London musical stage, has died, aged 62, after a long battle with cancer.

She died on Tuesday at her home in south-east London.

In the 1990s Mary Millar was known to millions of television viewers as Rose in the BBC comedy series Keeping up Appearances.

But her musical talents had also led to a long and successful career on the London stage, appearing in The Phantom of the Opera as the original Madame Giry, and most recently in Disney's Beauty and the Beast.

Her illness had forced her to withdraw in recent months from Beauty and the Beast, in which she played Mrs Potts, the teapot, and sang the show's love theme.

On the straight play front, she won acclaim as Judi Dench's replacement in 1984 in the hit West End drama, Pack of Lies.

Mary Millar was the second actress to play Hyacinth Bucket's flashy, man-chasing sister, Rose, in Keeping Up Appearances.

She won the role, which called for thigh-skimming skirts, when she was in her fifties.

''I bought a mini-skirt for the audition and sat on the Tube (subway) feeling the biggest fool, but I got the job,'' she

once remarked.

Her first television success, in a show called Those Were the Days, came when she was 17.

She went on to work on stage and in television and also understudied for Julie Andrews in

the Broadway production of Camelot in the 1960s.

''She was also a committed Christian and her faith was very important to her,'' her husband, Rafael, said.

''In recent years she went to Malawi for the charity World Vision. She used to sponsor children in Malawi,'' he said.

The actress is survived by her husband, Rafael, of 36 years, and their daughter, Lucy, 26.