Emmerdale icon who spoke first words on soap died with £8k and no will

Emmerdale icon who spoke first words on soap died with £8k and no will


Jo Kendall stars as Peggy Skilbeck in Emmerdale in 1972

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At 81 she tragically died, leaving behind just £8,137 which automatically went to her next of kin as she never married, had children and did not write a will.

Jo was already an established actress when she starred in the soap opera, having first touched fame in 1964 on a BBC radio comedy show.

Her character, Peggy, was the daughter of Jacob and Annie Sugden (Sheila Mercier) and married to Matt Skilbeck (Frederick Pyne).

Jo’s character was referring to a woman in the distance riding on horseback, who turned out to be Marian Wilks (Gail Harrison).

Not only did she bring the show’s first piece of dialogue, but Peggy also gave birth to the show’s first babies and was one of the first to die in the entire series.

Jo’s character died of a brain hemorrhage soon after the birth of her twins Sam and Sally (Jamie and Justine Bell), leaving viewers sobbing as she would never get to see her beloved children grow up.

The actress continued her career away from the Yorkshire town, becoming a well-respected name in film and television comedy.

She originally rose to fame as part of the era’s recent batch of sensational Cambridge comedians.

Jo was the sole female in the group, which included the likes of John Cleese and Bill Oddie.

Oddly, she also wasn’t a student at Cambridge, but became associated with the collective when she successfully auditioned for the university’s A Clump of Plinths revue in 1963.

Similarly, she appeared on Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t a Clue and made her mark in television classics such as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

The actress retired in 1999 but seemingly couldn’t escape her work.

She made appearances on both television and radio over the next two decades, although far less regularly than before her retirement.

In 2017 she made her final guest appearance in the stage tour of I’m Sorry I’ll Read That Again.

She reportedly spent her final days in a London retirement home that caters specifically to retired stars.

When news of her death broke, hundreds of celebrities mourned their late co-star.

John Cleese issued a tribute saying: “She was a very likeable, cheerful, friendly woman – a delight to work with. I got to know her well on the 1964 Tour of New Zealand, and subsequently, our appearances on and off-Broadway.

“I have many happy memories of her. RIP Jo.”

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