We celebrate the incredible life of TOWIE's beloved Nanny Pat, who has died at the age of 80
But, rather than cry into our festive plait, we’re trying to focus on the good times from her 80 years of life – and what a life it was.
Nanny Pat – or Pat Brooker, as she was known IRL – was an instant hit when The Only Way Is Essex first aired back in 2010.
Characters came and went as the show progressed over the years, but Nanny Pat was a reassuring constant, providing us with some classic TOWIE moments.
From the time she tried her hand at rapping (with the really-rather-good line ‘I went to get a pint of milk and I was wearing silk’) to the episode where she called Mark a ‘saucy git’ when he dissed her amazing multicoloured swimming hat, Pat was always total TV gold.
Fittingly, one of her final appearances on the ITVBe show saw the TOWIE crew get together to celebrate her 80th birthday with a royal-themed party.
Arriving in a horse-drawn carriage at the bash last month, the magnificent matriarch looked incredible in a chic cream outfit topped with a glittering tiara.
Family members including Carol and Jess Wright as well as TOWIE regulars James ‘Arg’ Argent, Sam Faiers and Chloe Sims waved flags and cheered in honour of Pat’s big day.
And later she had everyone in tears as she recalled her late husband, Charlie Brooker, who she married in the 1950s – long before she found fame (and discovered the meaning of the term ‘vajazzle’) on The Only Way Is Essex.
Born in 1935, Pat grew up in London’s East End during the Blitz – a time of danger, fear and death, as she recalled in her first book Penny Sweets and Cobbled Streets: My East End Childhood.
Having survived the bombs and food rationing of the Second World War, she left school at the age of 15 and had various jobs including one in a knicker factory and another working for Yardley cosmetics – although she was sacked for stealing lavender perfume!
She met Charlie in 1953 and they went on to marry – albeit without the approval of Pat’s father, who refused to attend the wedding. ‘I think it was one of the nastiest things a dad can do to his daughter,’ she later said in her book.
But the two lovebirds ploughed on and forged a happy life together, with Pat giving birth to five children in seven years – including TOWIE star Carol.
In the 1960s, Pat – then sporting a distinctive red beehive hair ‘do – went on to become landlady of a tough East End pub, an adventure she documented in her second book, Queen of the Rising Sun.
Neither she or Charlie had any experience of running a pub, but they soon got to grips with serving the boisterous locals, working with a till that ‘didn’t do maths’ – and even, on one occasion, dealing with the Krays’ henchmen when they came in looking for a bit of protection money!
The couple eventually upped and left London for suburban Essex – a move that would ultimately lead to her family starring on TOWIE.
Charlie sadly died in 2007, but Pat continued to embrace life and her newfound stardom, which – along with the rest of the TOWIE cast – saw her record a Christmas single and even win a BAFTA.
We think the great lady herself best summed up her life when she wrote in her second book, ‘I have really lived it!’ Oh, how you did Nanny Pat. We’ll miss you.