I never mind the size of a part, as long as it is enjoyable and is of some importance to the play
Best known for her role as Nursie in the comedy Blackadder II, Patsy Byrne was a much-loved character actress.
Patsy played many roles with the Royal Shakespeare Company and acted opposite Rex Harrison. The daughter of a railway engineer, she had begun her career in repertory theatre after drama school. Throughout her life she was either treading the boards or on TV, but it was her role opposite Miranda Richardson as Queen Elizabeth I’s dimwitted nanny that she endeared herself to many new fans.
Her character, described unkindly by Blackadder himself as “a sad…old woman with an udder fixation” is a constant presence at Elizabeth I’s court, frequently embarrassing the grown-up but infantile Queen with embarrassing recollections about her childhood.
She later reprised the character – who at one point, reveals to the Queen that her given name is Bernard – in Blackadder’s Christmas Carol.
Patsy’s death in 2014 came just one week after that of Rik Mayall, who in the guise of Lord Flashheart had flirted voraciously with the older woman in Blackadder.
In later life, Patsy appeared in the sitcom Watching, while her Blackadder co-star Tony Robinson cast her in his own historical comedy show Maid Marian and her Merry Men.
“I was so fond of her as a person and so in awe of her capabilities that when I decided I wanted to introduce a mother to Maid Marion, my first choice was Patsy,” he said.