DM

London

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he shot to fame as the relentlessly cheery but dim-witted Nursie, mocked by Lord Blackadder for her dotty, unworldly utterances.

And it seems that in real life, actress Patsy Byrne was equally naive when it came to her own financial affairs -her newly released will reveals that she grossly underestimated the fortune she had amassed.

Her instructions were that five of her six stepchildren should inherit £20,000 each, with the remainder of her estate going to the sixth. But when she died at the age of 80 last year, Byrne actually left £1.5 million -leaving stepdaughter Monica Seccombe with a potential £900,000 legacy, after inheritance tax.

Happily, Seccombe has shared out the money equally with her four sisters; their brother Christopher having died last year at the age of 58, leaving no children.

Seccombe, a construction industry lawyer from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire, told The Mail on Sunday: ‘When she drew up her will, she didn’t realise how much money she had. ‘Her estate will be distributed equally to all her stepchildren.’

And explaining why she had been in line for a bigger share of the legacy, Ms Seccombe added: ‘There was no family bust-up; she just wanted me to sort things out after her death as I am a solicitor.’

Another stepdaughter, Margaret Seccombe from Guildford, Surrey, said: ‘The largest part of the estate was left to Monica to distribute as she saw fit. There was no argument about it. My stepmother arranged it that way so there could be some flexibility just in case one of us had died or another of us was in poverty at the time of her death. There has been full consultation with all the family.’

Probate records released last week reveal that Byrne left £50,000 to both The Theatrical Guild, which supports backstage staff, and the Denville Hall care home for actors in Northwood, Middlesex, where she died last June. She had moved there a few months previously from Kennington, South London, when she became frail.

The family also agreed to make a further £50,000 donation to St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney, East London, and £20,000 to the Little Sisters Of The Poor Care Home in Kennington.

Monica Seccombe added: ‘My stepmother also wanted some little things and mementoes to go to friends.’

A classically trained actress who toured with the Royal Shakespeare Company, Byrne became a household name in 1986 when she took the role of Nursie to Miranda Richardson’s petulant Elizabeth I in Blackadder II. The Rowan Atkinson sitcom was the highlight of a long career in theatre, which started when she attended drama school in London.

She was on an RSC tour of Latin America in 1964 when she met widower Patrick Seccombe, who was the British Council representative in Uruguay. They wed in 1967 and the marriage lasted until his death in 2000.

Byrne also starred in a BBC production of Chekhov’s Platonov in 1971, a 1979 adaptation of The Old Curiosity Shop and in children’s programme Maid Marian And Her Merry Men in the early 1990s -a show created for her by Blackadder co-star Tony Robinson, who played Baldrick.