Royle Family actress Liz Smith dies aged 95

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Liz Smith death

The Royle Family actress Liz Smith has died aged 95, a spokeswoman for her family has said.

The actress, who played the ailing Nana in the hit comedy show, died on Christmas Eve.

A statement from the spokeswoman 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."

Her death comes in the same year as her co-star Caroline Aherne, who died from lung cancer.

She won best actress at the British Comedy Awards at the age of 85 for her role as Nana in The Royle Family, and played eccentric baker Letitia Cropley in The Vicar Of Dibley.

Royle Family actor Ralf Little tweeted after the sad news broke.

The episode of the much-loved 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".

Liz 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."

(Matt Squires/BBC/PA)
The Royle Family cast (Matt Squires/BBC/PA)

Fans have been paying tribute on Twitter.