Kathy Staff (Minnie Higginbottom)

Kathy Staff

Born in Dukinfield, Cheshire, Staff was best known for her role as one of the main characters, Nora Batty, in the long-running BBC sitcom Last of the Summer Wine. She played Nora Batty from the pilot episode in 1973, (though in the pilot and first series, she was referred to as Mrs.Batty),  until 2008, the year she died from a brain tumor. Shortly after the death of actor Bill Owen on 12 July 1999, coincidentally also Staff’s birthday, Staff left the show briefly. She stated in interviews that things just weren’t the same since his passing, and her heart wasn’t in it anymore. She would later return and remain with the show until her death. She began her acting career with touring repertory companies in 1946, changing her name to Katherine Brant. After she married John Staff in 1951, she adopted the surname as her stage name, hence Kathy Staff. She retired from the stage at this point to raise her family, but starting working as an extra for Granada Television in Manchester in the 1960s. Staff had a regular role as Doris Luke in the popular ITV soap opera, Crossroads from 1978 to 1985 and 2001 to 2002. Her other television roles included Coronation Street as Vera Hopkins, No Frills as Molly Bickerstaff, Open All Hours as Mrs Blewitt, Dawson’s Weekly and The Benny Hill Show. She appeared in a television version of Separate Tables in 1983. She was also well known for her part In last of the summer wine, playing Nora Batty. She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1984 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews in Harrods. Her theatre roles included Lady Bracknell in The Importance of Being Earnest at Birmingham Rep, Madame Arcati and Mrs Malaprop in touring productions of Blithe Spirit and The Rivals respectively and a touring production of the comedy Sailor, Beware!, as well as two West End plays: the farce Two into One and comedy When We Are Married, and many pantomimes. She appeared in A Kind of Loving in 1962 as Thora Hird’s neighbour, as well as The Family Way (1966), The Dresser (1983), Camille (1984), Little Dorrit (1988), and Mary Reilly (1996). She died on 13 December 2008 at the Willow Wood Hospice in Ashton-under-Lyne, at the age of 80, with her husband John at her bedside, after a brain tumour was diagnosed earlier in the year. Her death was announced on 14 December. Her funeral took place at St Mark’s Dukinfield, where she was a lifelong member and sang in the choir. She is commemorated in a memorial screen at the church.


  • July, 12, 1928
  • United Kingdom
  • Dukinfield, Cheshire, England


  • December, 13, 2008
  • United Kingdom
  • Ashton-under-Lyne, England

Cause of Death

  • brain tumor


  • Dukinfield Cemetery and Crematorium
  • Dukinfield, Manchester, England
  • United Kingdom

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