Tributes paid to Royle Family actress Liz Smith

Liz Smith with her MBE for services to drama. PIC: PA

Liz Smith with her MBE for services to drama. PIC: PA

1
Have your say

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.

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

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

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”

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.”

A spokeswoman for Liz’s family said last night said: “The BAFTA award-winning actress Liz Smith has died, on Christmas Eve, at the age of 95, her family has announced.”

The episode of the much-loved Royle Family sitcom in which Nana dies - called The Queen of Sheba - was repeated on the BBC during Christmas week.

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”.

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 played eccentric baker Letitia Cropley in The Vicar Of Dibley but was devastated when her character was killed off, and is now best known for her role as Nana in The Royle Family, for which she won best actress at the British Comedy Awards at the age of 85.

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.