For God's sake say something, even if it's only goodbye
A domineering on screen presence, Kathy Staff played the no-nonsense Nora Batty on the hugely popular and long-running BBC sitcom The Last of Summer Wine. She described her character as "like a battered old trout”, but despite some surface similarities to her own personality, Kathy was a far kinder and more generous presence on set than her broomstick-as-battleaxe wielding alter-ego!
She was born into a highly religious family, and she kept her faith throughout her life - she never smoked or drank and her own daughter became a deacon. This grounded nature lent itself well to the helter-skelter world of show business, and she was able to transform a role that had been written as nothing more than a foil to one of the main characters into an iconic, strong female presence who still allowed her humanity to shine through - in fact she often tried to sneak a softer side into Nora, only to be told to ‘harden up’ by the producers.
Kathy died after being diagnosed with a brain tumour. Her funeral was held at St Mark’s church in Dukinfield, where she had been a lifelong member of the congregation and sang in the church choir.