Actress who played Nora Batty dies

Sun, Dec 14, 2008, 00:00

Kathy Staff, the actress who played Nora Batty in the hit TV series Last of the Summer Wine, has died.

The 80-year-old passed away after a short illness, according to the BBC.

Staff played the character from the first episode of the show in 1973 and made her last appearance in August.

With her curlers, saggy tights and razor-sharp tongue, Nora Batty became Staff’s most famous role.

Aside from Last of the Summer Wine, Staff also appeared in Coronation Street, Crossroads and the sitcom Open All Hours.

The vicar of Staff’s church said that in real life, the actress was completely different from her formidable screen persona.

Rev Alison Cox, priest-in-charge at St Mark’s, Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, said: “We will miss her terribly. She was a very friendly and warm woman; faithful and generous.

“She was held in great affection by all the parishioners of St Mark’s and way beyond the boundaries of our church.”

Staff was baptised and married in the church and remained a committed Christian throughout her life.

“The whole nation will mourn her passing. By her work as an actress over the years she has brought so much pleasure to millions of people,” Rev Cox added.

“Kathy and her surviving family are in our prayers at this sad time.” Alan Bell, the producer of Last of the Summer Wine, told the BBC Staff’s gentle nature meant she often needed prompting to bring out Nora Batty’s flinty character.

“She would play a scene quite gently, and I’d say, ‘But Kathy, you’ve got to harden up, because that’s who we all love, the hard, tough Nora Batty’,” he said.

“And she said, ‘Why can’t I be just soft and gentle at times?’ And I said, ‘Maybe some time we will’.” Nora’s attempts to fend off amorous advances from scruffy layabout Compo — often with a broom — were a Last of the Summer Wine staple.