John Le Carre's actress half-sister Charlotte Cornwell has died at 71 following a battle with cancer.

The accomplished TV, film and stage actress appeared in BAFTA-winning TV series Rock Follies.

The hit 1970s TV show saw her play one of the fictional Little Ladies pop group, along with Rula Lenska and Julie Covington.

The show's soundtrack hit number one in the UK pop charts - knocking Status Quo off the top spot.

John Le Carre's actress half-sister Charlotte Cornwell has died at 71
John Le Carre's actress half-sister Charlotte Cornwell has died at 71

Charlotte's death comes a month after author John le Carré died aged 89 after falling ill with pneumonia.

Le Carre based the main character in his 1983 spy novel The Little Drummer Girl on Charlotte.

He encouraged her career and is said to have been disappointed when Diane Keaton was cast as her character in the movie version of the book.

Charlotte Cornwell with Bertram Alex Waldmann in the Royal Shakespeare Company's All's Well That Ends Well
Charlotte Cornwell, as the Countess, with Bertram, played by Alex Waldmann in the Royal Shakespeare Company's All's Well That Ends Well

Charlotte once said of John: "I’ve always felt embarrassed about the way I fell into acting because everyone I know wanted to do it from a frighteningly early age.

"I was completely directionless until he sat me down and said 'Come on, sis, what are you going to do? I think you’re creative, have you ever thought about acting?'"

Le Carre's instinct proved spot on.

Prior to making her name with her hit TV series, Charlotte got her start on stage.

She trained in London before moving to the Bristol Old Vic, then becoming a lead actress for three years with the Royal Shakespeare Company. She would later join the National Theatre.

On TV she made cameos in shows including The West Wing and The Mentalist.

Along with her work on stage and TV, the actress appeared in multiple films including a 1990 Hollywood adaptation of Le Carré's The Russia House, in which she played Charlotte.

Her other films included 1990's The Krays, 1974's Stardust and 1997's The Saint.

She is survived by her daughter with actor Kenneth Cranham, Nancy Cranham, 39.

Charlotte Cornwell and Joanna Horton in the Royal Shakespeare Company's All's Well That Ends Well
Charlotte Cornwell was an accomplished stage actress