Nora: Kathy Staff
Compo and Nora (with flowers) 158
The formidable figure of Nora Batty in her curlers and wrinkled stockings has made actress Kathy Staff a household name and, thanks to Compo's constant fantasising, Britain's most unlikely sex symbol.
Kathy has played Nora since the first pilot episode in 1972. The part originally called for a fat lady to look as dreadful as possible. she quickly rose to the challenge and the rest is history.
Thankfully, Kathy has always been able to step aside from her Summer Wine character and retain her own identity. Away from the series she is still actively involved with her local church in Dukinfield, Greater Manchester, where she still attends regularly and sings in the choir.
Here fact and fiction have co-incided. Nora is always keen to play her part in village life, arranging the flowers in church and organising concerts in the village hall.
But there the similarity ends--in looks and personality, Kathy could hardly be more different from the sharp tongued old battleaxe who chases Compo down her front steps with a sweeping brush.
"People never seem to recognise me straight away. They know they have seen me somewhere, but they are not sure where," she says. Kathy continues to fit a variety of stage roles into her increasingly busy schedule. During 1993, apart from filming 10 episodes of Summer Wine, she appeared as Lily Chatterton in a major touring production of Ray Cooney's comedy Two Into One, which visited theatres the length and breadth of the country. The start of 1994 saw Kathy appearing in pantomime at Eastbourne.
Playing such a popular character as Nora has led to many spin-offs, including guest appearances of other shows. Compo and Nora once came face to face with children's favourite Mr Blobby in a sketch specially recorded for the Saturday evening BBC show, Noel's House Party.
Kathy began her career in 1949 with weekly repertory companies throughout the country. After her marriage to john staff, she decided to resume her career and concentrate on television.
In the 1970s she appeared on four series of Sez Les with the much loved comedian Les Dawson, and also the drama series Hadleigh and Within These Walls.
She played several roles in Coronation Street, including Vera Hopkins who had a brief spell running the corner shop, followed by the role of Mrs Blewitt in Open All Hours, written by Summer wine creator Roy Clarke. For many years from 1978 she was a popular figure in Crossroads as the kindly Doris Luke.