Ann Emery, star of Ren­taghost and Billy El­liot, dies

Malta Independent - - ENTERTAINMENT -

Ann Emery, the veteran ac­tress who played Ethel Meaker in chil­dren’s show Ren­taghost, has died at the age of 86.

Emery, half-sis­ter of co­me­dian Dick, also played Grandma in the orig­i­nal cast of the Billy El­liot stage mu­si­cal.

Its di­rec­tor, Stephen Daldry, paid trib­ute to her “zest for life”, say­ing she had been “at the heart of the Billy El­liot fam­ily for over a decade”.

Born in London in 1930, her other roles in­cluded Mrs Rocket in the BBC’s Ju­lia Jekyll and Har­riet Hyde. Emery ap­peared with her half-brother in eight episodes of The Dick Emery Show be­fore land­ing her Ren­taghost role in 1976. To­gether with her op­por­tunis­tic hus­band Harold, her char­ac­ter rented out ghosts to mem­bers of the pub­lic in need of spec­tral as­sis­tance.

Emery played Billy’s grand­mother at London’s Vic­to­ria Palace theatre from 2005 to 2010, go­ing on to ap­pear in the Cameron Mack­in­tosh mu­si­cal Betty Blue Eyes.

When that show closed, she re­turned to the Palace - a theatre she first per­formed in as a child be­fore an­nounc­ing her re­tire­ment in 2015.

In 2010 she re­ceived a life­time achieve­ment award from the Bri­tish Mu­sic Hall So­ci­ety.

In his trib­ute, Daldry de­scribed her as “a child of the theatre... who never seemed old and never took the pro­fes­sion for granted.”

“What a treat it was to have known her,” he went on, say­ing the ac­tress would be “re­mem­bered fondly” and “deeply missed”.

Reece Shear­smith, with whom Emery ap­peared in Betty Blue Eyes, also paid trib­ute on Twit­ter, re­mem­ber­ing her as being “tire­less, funny and with bound­less en­ergy”.

Sim­i­lar sen­ti­ments were ex­pressed by the chore­og­ra­pher Sir Matthew Bourne, who said she had been “beloved by every­one who knew her and had the joy of work­ing with her”.

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