Saturday 24 August 2019

Tributes pour in for Royle Family star Liz Smith who died at 95

Liz Smith with her MBE for services to drama as the Royle Family actress has died aged 95. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
Liz Smith with her MBE for services to drama as the Royle Family actress has died aged 95. Photo: Lewis Whyld/PA Wire
Photo: Yui Mok/PA Wire
Liz Smith being made an MBE by the Prince of Wales for services to drama. Photo: Johnny Green/PA Wire
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Tributes have been paid to the "great" Royle Family actress Liz Smith following her death on Christmas Eve.

Smith died just five months after the sitcom's writer Caroline Aherne, who starred as her on-screen granddaughter.

A statement issued on Monday night said: "The Bafta award-winning actress Liz Smith has died, on Christmas Eve, at the age of 95, her family has announced."

Ralf Little, who played Smith's grandson in the beloved BBC programme tweeted: "Devastating to lose two members of my second family in one awful year. RIP Liz Smith. Goodbye Nana. Xxx"

The Queen of Sheba - the episode of the much-loved sitcom in which Nana dies - was repeated on the BBC just days before Christmas.

In 2009, the Prince of Wales presented Smith with an MBE and told her that the sofa-bound TV characters in the show were "nothing like my family, thank God".

BBC One's The Royle Family, clockwise from bottom Jim (Ricky Tomlinson), Barbara (Sue Johnston), Anthony (Ralph Little), Denise (Caroline Aherne), Dave (Craig Cash) and Nana (Liz Smith) who has died aged 95, a spokeswoman for her family has said
BBC One's The Royle Family, clockwise from bottom Jim (Ricky Tomlinson), Barbara (Sue Johnston), Anthony (Ralph Little), Denise (Caroline Aherne), Dave (Craig Cash) and Nana (Liz Smith) who has died aged 95, a spokeswoman for her family has said

Smith only got her first professional roles in her 50s when Mike Leigh was looking for a middle-aged woman capable of improvisation for his debut feature Bleak Moments.

Her career took off after she played the lead role in his first television film Hard Labour and she once said: "I owe everything to Mike."

The actress also played eccentric baker Letitia Cropley in The Vicar Of Dibley but was devastated when her character was killed off.

At the age of 85 she won a best actress award at the British Comedy Awards for her portrayal of Nana.

Smith also won a Bafta for best supporting actress for her performance as Maggie Smith's organ-playing mother in the film A Private Function.

Andrew Whyment, who played Little's friend Darren said: "What a fantastic actress she was absolutely hilarious RIP lovely Liz x"

Choreographer Sir Matthew Bourne wrote: "RIP #LizSmith Lovable actress who was totally unique and endearing. A true British legend."

Actor Richard E Grant, who starred alongside Smith in the 1997 romantic comedy Keep the Aspidistra Flying, said: "I loved working with you on the George Orwell film and privileged to have played and danced together RIP."

And Anna Friel, who made her name as Beth Jordache in 1990s soap Brookside, added: "I loved Liz Smith. What a great actress."

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