Liz Smith (actress)

Liz Smith (actress)

Infobox actor
name = Liz Smith

imagesize =
caption =
birthdate = Birth date and age|1921|12|11|df=yes
location = Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, England
height =
deathdate =
deathplace =
birthname = Liz Smith
othername =
homepage =
baftaawards = Best Supporting Actress
1984 "A Private Function"
notable role = Letitia Cropley
in "The Vicar of Dibley"
Norma "Nana" Speakman
in "The Royle Family"
Grandma Georgina
in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"

Liz Smith (born 11 December 1921) is a BAFTA Award-winning English actress best known for her roles in the sitcoms "The Vicar of Dibley" and "The Royle Family", and who also appeared in the 2005 film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory".

Early life

Liz Smith was born in Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire in 1921. Her mother died in childbirth when Smith was just two years old. Her father walked out of her life shortly afterwards, following his second marriage to a woman who did not want him to have any contact with his previous life or with his young daughter. [ [,,2193755,00.html This much I know: Liz Smith, Actress, 85, London | Magazine | The Observer ] ] She was raised by her widowed grandmother. During the Second World War, she chose to serve as a WREN in the Royal Navy because she liked the uniform. In 1945, she married Jack Thomas, whom she met while on service in India, and they had two children. However, Smith and Thomas divorced in 1959 and Smith brought up her son and daughter on her own. She has described this as an extremely difficult period in her life, as she struggled against financial difficulties and social disapproval of single mothers. [ [ BBC Radio 4 - Factual - Desert Island Discs - Stanley McMurty ] ]


Early career

In 1970, Smith had her first appearance on television in "Leo the Last", although this was uncredited. The following year however, at the age of 50, she got her big break when she appeared as the downtrodden mother in Mike Leigh's "Bleak Moments", part of "Play for Today".

"The moment that my life transformed was when I was standing in Hamleys one Christmas, flogging toys, and I got a message from this young director named Mike Leigh. I was nearly 50 at the time, but he wanted a middle-aged woman to do improvisations. I went to an audition and I got the job of the mother in this improvised film – Bleak Moments , his first film – and it changed my life. [ [ 'Royle Family' Liz Smith: my struggle to survive ] ]

After that she appeared in programmes such as "Emmerdale Farm" as Hilda Semple, "Last of the Summer Wine" as Compo's date, "Bootsie and Snudge", "Crown Court", "I Didn't Know You Cared" and "The Sweeney". She also appeared as Madame Balls in "The Pink Panther Strikes Again", but her scenes were deleted. However, in the 1982 film "Curse of the Pink Panther", Smith did appear as Madame Balls.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Liz Smith appeared in many television programmes in the UK, appearing in "The Duchess of Duke Street", "Within These Walls", "In Loving Memory", "The Gentle Touch", "Agatha Christie's Partners in Crime", "One by One" as Gran Turner and "The Lenny Henry Show". In 1984, Liz Smith received a BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Maggie Smith's mother in the film "A Private Function".

Career breakthrough

Liz Smith started the 1990s by appearing in "2point4 children", in which she had regular roles as Aunt Belle and Bette, "Bottom", "The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles" and "Lovejoy". In 1994, she played the role of Letitia Cropley for seven episodes in the popular sitcom "The Vicar of Dibley". This made her a household name, but in the 1996 Easter Special episode the character died. Two years later, Smith starred in another sitcom which would make her more well known, "The Royle Family". This aired until 2000, but came back for a special episode in 2006 when Nana, her character, died. In the meantime, she had appeared in "The Queen's Nose", "The Bill" and "Secrets & Lies". In 1997 she appeared in "The Revengers' Comedies". Two years later in 1999, she featured in "A Christmas Carol" as Mrs Dilber, having played the same character in the 1984 version, and also appeared in "Alice in Wonderland".

Recent years

Since 2000, Smith has continued to act and has appeared in TV programmes such as "Trial & Retribution V" and "Doctors". In 2005 she played Grandma Georgina in the film "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" and also had small roles in "", "Oliver Twist" and "Keeping Mum".

In 2006, Smith published her autobiography called "Our Betty" (ISBN 0743285336) and at around the same time moved into a retirement home in Hampstead, London. In 2007, she published a series of short stories called "". That same year, Smith appeared in the Little Man Tate music video "This Must Be Love". [cite news|url=|title=Little Man Tate Bring Nanna Royle Back From The Dead|first=|last=||date=1 March 2007] On 5 December 2007, Smith won the "Best Television Comedy Actress" at the British Comedy Awards for her role in "The Royle Family". [ cite news|url=|title=Smith wins for Royle performance|first=Michael|last=Osborn|publisher=BBC|date=6 December 2007]

In 2008, she starred in the period drama "Lark Rise to Candleford". That same year she was a castaway on BBC Radio 4's "Desert Island Discs", and finished filming "City of Ember" which is scheduled for release in October 2008.


External links

*imdb name|id=0809131|name=Liz Smith

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