19/03/2012 06:25 GMT | Updated 19/03/2012 06:27 GMT

Dame Edna Everage And Sir Les Patterson Retired By Their Creator Barry Humphries At 78

Dame Edna Everage has announced she is retiring her frocks and gladioli.

At the age of 78, her creator, Melbourne-born comedian Barry Humphries, has announced that her upcoming stage show Eat Pray Laugh! will be her last as he is "beginning to feel a bit senior".

Humphries, who has been donning the Dame's frocks to worldwide acclaim since December 1955, said yesterday of his decision to retire the mischievous comedienne, talk show host and aficionado on all things cultural: “I’ve got a contract to write another book, there are places I want to go, things I want to do, including more painting.”

Dame Edna wasn't always so glamorous, beginning life as a drab Australian housewife, before she was elevated to damehood, then "Housewife and Superstar" and finally "gigastar". With her "wisteria-hue hair" and "face furniture" glasses, she enjoyed an increasingly large following throughout the 1980s and 90s with her own chat show, where she lampooned the cult of celebrity, by treating guests exactly as she would normal people, and describing the gig as "a conversation where one person is more interesting than the other" (not necessarily the guest, naturally).

Humphries is touring his native Australia in a couple of months. He added yesterday that he remembered being taken by parents to a show when he was a child, which featured performers who had “outlived their shelf life”.

Humphries reflected: “It was commented that ‘you should have seen him when he was funny’. I want to avoid that being said about me.”

Edna won't be alone in her dotage - Sir Les Patterson is also retreating from the political fray, although their creator has said Dame Edna may yet crop up on TV from time to time, to spread her drops of worldly wisdom on unsuspecting guest-stars and the rest of us possums.

Dame Edna in action on Parky...