Sue Johnston has only recently been able to re-watch ‘The Royle Family’ due to missing all her dearly departed co-stars.

Sue Johnston misses her Royle Family co-stars

Sue Johnston misses her Royle Family co-stars

The 80-year-old actress' favourite episode is the 2006 Christmas special 'The Queen of Sheba' - which saw the heartbreaking passing of Nana, Norma Speakman, played by the late Liz Smith who died in real life aged 91 in 2016.

But Sue admits it has been tough for her to watch back episodes of the BBC sitcom as Liz, Caroline Aherne - the show’s creator and actress who portrayed Denise - Peter Martin and Doreen Keogh, who played next-door neighbours Joe and Mary Caroll, are no longer with us.

Caroline passed away in July 2016 at the age of just 52 from lung cancer.

Sue told Radio Times magazine: “It was very hard, because there are so many people in it who are no longer with us, but ‘The Queen of Sheba’ is my favourite, and I watch it with a lot of pride.

“The first series was rerun the other day, and do you know, little kids now ask for selfies with me because they love it as much as the older generations did. I think how proud Caroline would have been to know it’s still loved."

Sue - who played Denise's on-screen mother, Barbara, opposite Ricky Tomlinson’s couch potato Jim Royle and their son Anthony, played by Ralf Little - described the show as “one of the happiest jobs” of her career.

The former 'Brookside' star said: "It was one of the happiest jobs I have ever done. And yes, I miss her [Caroline]. All the time.

“She’s another one who would have loved to have got old and grown wrinkles… Although maybe she would have had Botox!”

Sue will appear with Craig Cash - who co-created the show with Caroline and played Denise's on-screen husband Dave Best - in a special documentary marking her life.

'Caroline Aherne: Queen of Comedy' will air on Christmas Day (25.12.23) on BBC Two.