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Ann Emery dies aged 86

The actress originated the role of Grandma in Billy Elliot

Ann Emery in Billy Elliot
© Alistair Muir

Actress Ann Emery, best known for playing Grandma in the West End production of Billy Elliot, has passed away at the age of 86.

Emery's other theatre credits included Trevor Nunn's 2001 production of My Fair Lady at the National Theatre and Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and Mother Dear in Betty Blue Eyes at the Novello in 2010.

But it was her long stint as Grandma in Elton John and Stephen Daldry's production of Billy Elliot that she will be most remembered for. Originating the role in 2005, she spent five years with the production, leaving in 2010 only to return a year later for a further three years.

Commenting on her passing, Daldry said: "Ann Emery has been at the heart of the Billy Elliot family for over a decade. She created the role of Grandma over 11 years ago, and has been central to the lives of hundreds of children who performed with her.

"She was herself a child of the theatre, whose enthusiasm and joy was always apparent. Her first appearance at the Victoria Palace was in the Crazy Gang in the 1930s.

"She will be remembered fondly, and today deeply missed. What a treat it was to have known her."

Emery, who was the sister of actor and comedian Dick Emery, was also known for the BBC children's television programmes Rentaghost and Julia Jekyll and Harriet Hyde.

Read our 2011 Q&A with Ann here