When she got the call, it took a few moments for the terrible significance to sink in. Actress Emily Lloyd was being asked by the wife of her father, Roger Lloyd-Pack, if she might want to come and see him.
She then realised it meant that her dad’s battle with pancreatic cancer was nearing its end.
Speaking movingly of her last visit to the Only Fools and Horses star before his ԁеаtһ at 69 last week, Emily reveals that his final words to his family were: “I’m fine.”
The Wish You Were Here star, 43, had rushed to the home Roger shared with his second wife, dramatist Jehane Markham, and Emily’s three step-brothers. She admits she was not prepared for what she found.
“I saw that his condition had taken a dramatic turn for the worse. I had braced myself to be strong but he was unrecognisable as the father I knew. It was a shock. Physically, he looked a different man.”
When first diagnosed last year, Roger had tackled the cancer with a positive attitude, using both conventional and alternative medicine.
He also continued working for as long as he could, but sadly he had to pull out of a Sport Relief sketch to be shown in March with David Jason and Nicholas Lyndhurst playing Del Boy and Rodney for the first time in a decade.
Emily has nothing but admiration for the brave and selfless way Roger approached the end of his life. “He never once passed on his anxieties or fears to his family,” she says. “More than anything, I cling on to his final words. I really do hope he is ‘fine’.”
She says it was typical of her father, who never stopped trying to protect her from the moment she shot to fame in the film Wish You Were Here aged 16.
Despite the fact Lloyd-Pack split from Emily’s mum Sheila Hughes when she was just 18 months old, she still enjoyed a strong relationship with the actor.
She does not hold him responsible for any of the mental health issues she has encountered, including an ongoing battle with obsessive compulsive disorder.
“Recently he expressed his guilt over my problems, saying that if he had not left my mother things might have turned out differently for me. I don’t think he should have blamed himself,” she says simply.
Aged seven, she remembers him indulging her “obsession” with catching a wild rabbit and keeping it as a pet.
“Dad, bless him, colluded in the fantasy enough to build me a hutch – but the actual rabbit remained elusive.”
Another abiding memory of her dad, known to the nation as Only Fools’ dopey Trigger , was a shared quirky sense of humour. “We used to play, who can make the other laugh first? We’d stare at each other, trying to make the other giggle.”
Once she had embarked on an acting career his advice was always forthcoming. For instance he told her to miss the Cannes Film Festival and take her O-levels instead (she still went).
Sadly he also advised her against taking the role of a psychotic prostitute in the film Chicago Joe and the Showgirl.
She ignored him and it led to a painful episode in which she had to come to terms with being sexually abused by a babysitter at the age of five. It damaged her mental health and led to many other episodes, including several suicide attempts. Her problems contributed to her being fired from three films.
She also rejected her father’s suggestion to attend a specialised clinic and now takes medication to treat the mild schizophrenia and depression from which she suffers.
“Perhaps, in retrospect, I should have taken his advice but I do have a slight defiance in my nature,” she says.
Instead, at 17, she moved in with him for six months to recover. Last year Roger, who also starred as Owen Newitt in The Vicar of Dibley as well as theatre roles, supported her decision to write a warts-and-all account of her life.
“He encouraged me to explore the events that, for right or wrong, have shaped the person I am today.”
Speaking a few days after her father’s ԁеаtһ Emily, who still spends periods in and out of hospital, said sadly: “I imagine it will hit me when I next need his advice. Suddenly, I’ll realise he’s not there.”