Tributes have been paid to former EastEnders actor Wendy Richard, who died today of cancer at the age of 65. Actor Gillian Taylforth, who appeared alongside Richard in EastEnders as her sister-in-law Kathy Mitchell for more than a decade, described her as "the loveliest of ladies and a dear friend". "I was with her in EastEnders for 13 years and have many happy memories. I remember going out with her many times and she made the most wonderful chilli with chocolate in it from a recipe from a chef at the Dorchester and used to make up an extra batch for me as I loved it so much," Taylforth said. "She was very generous like that and had a great sense of humour. I am very sad to hear of her passing and send my condolences to John and the family. She will be sorely missed." Adam Woodyatt, who plays Ian Beale in the soap, said: "I have many fond memories of our time together at EastEnders and will remember her with affection. Knowing that she is no longer in pain and suffering is the only comfort and I hope she rests in peace." Jon Altman, who plays 'Nasty Nick', added: "I always enjoyed working with Wendy, even though our characters were poles apart. I will always treasure the memories of a trip we shared together around the Mediterranean on the QE2 with her husband John and my mother Tina. The world of show business will certainly be a sadder place without her." The BBC said tonight's episode of EastEnders on BBC1 would be dedicated to Richard and would be followed at 8pm by a special tribute programme. Former EastEnders executive producer John Yorke, who is now head of BBC drama production, said it was impossible to overstate Richard's contribution to the BBC1 soap. "For 22 years, whether she was bemoaning Arthur's bad luck, cursing her children's wayward nature or reminding us all once again that it was 'all about family', it was impossible for anyone to mention EastEnders without the iconic image of Pauline coming to mind," Yorke added. "It is hard now to imagine the bravery of casting Wendy as Pauline, so successful and utterly identifiable in the role did she become. She was one of the foundation stones of the show, and with her death EastEnders is diminished. She will be much missed by all of us." Scriptwriter Jeremy Lloyd, who worked with Richard on Are You Being Served?, said: "Wendy was not only a great friend but brought her extraordinary personality to Are You Being Served?, making her a star member of the cast. I shall miss her very much." Richard worked with Macmillan Cancer Support following her diagnosis with the disease. The charity's chief executive, Ciaran Devane, said: "We are saddened by the death of Wendy Richards. Macmillan is very grateful for the support Wendy gave to us and to other cancer patients." Jeremy Hughes, chief executive of Breakthrough Breast Cancer, added: "We are very saddened by the death of Wendy Richard. Our thoughts are with her family at this difficult time." Mark Thompson, the BBC director general, speaking after a service of remembrance for the corporation's former managing director of television, Sir Bill Cotton, said Richard had lit up living rooms in many British homes and was like a member of the family to them. "Wendy Richard is going to be incredibly missed by the BBC and by our audiences," Thompson added. Jana Bennett, director of BBC Vision, described Richard as one of Britain's greatest television actresses. "Wendy made an enormous contribution to British drama – she was hugely respected and will be much missed," she said. I for one loved Wendy, will be sorely missed.