Tributes to Worthing 'legend' Liz Smith

27 December 2016, 08:12 | Updated: 27 December 2016, 08:18

Worthing actress dies aged 95

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

The actress, who had been living in a retirement home in Worthing. died just five months after the sitcom's writer Caroline Aherne, who starred as her on-screen granddaughter.

Ralf Little, who played Smith's grandson 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.''

The Queen of Sheba, the episode of the Royle Family 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''.

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 when 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.

She appeared alongside Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter in the 2005 film Charlie And The Chocolate Factory, playing the role of Grandma Georgina.

The actress announced her retirement in 2009, following a series of strokes.