The mother of celebrity Tracey Ullman died after her mattress caught fire from a “carelessly discarded cigarette”, an inquest heard this week.

Doreen Skinner, 85, was described as a “chain-smoker” by witnesses on Wednesday, as it was revealed she had a “habit” for dropping lit cigarettes in her home – with this one leading to the “intense” bed fire which claimed her life.

Her family, including the well-known comedienne and actress, were not present during the inquest, but Coroner Richard Hulett was told that “they were aware of the proceedings taking place”.

Ms Skinner’s body was discovered by firefighters after they were called to her flat in the sheltered accommodation of Kiln Court, off North Drive, Holtspur, at about 11.30pm on March 23 this year.

Her bed was on fire when firefighters arrived, and in the corner of the mattress – where it is believed the blaze started – the material has burned down to the springs.

Hearing evidence from representatives of Bucks Fire and Rescue and Thames Valley Police, as well as a pathologist and Ms Skinner’s carer, Mr Hulett ruled that it was an “accidental death”.

Universal Care worker Suraiya Tandon said: “She was a chain-smoker and always smoked in bed.”

The court also heard how Ms Skinner was disabled, spent most of her time in bed and had poor eyesight and hearing.

Bucks Fire and Rescue fire investigator, Keith Williams, said: “[The fire] would have been slow to start, cigarettes fires can take a while to go, but once it goes the bedding and quilt would have caught fire quickly.”

He added: “There were signs of heavy smoking in the bedroom with other burn marks on the floor and around the property.”

Bucks Free Press: WY90774 -  p 05 GV Kiln Court(ap).JPG

Kiln Court in Holtspur.

Pathologist David Bailey ruled that Ms Skinner died from the burns, but it is understood that the toxic chemicals released from the burning of the mattress would have seriously damaged her health.

The family of Ms Skinner have remained quiet about their relative, a former nurse, since the tragic death.

But is a statement released at the time, they said: “Tracey and her family are deeply saddened by the death of her mother, Doreen.

“The family would like to thank everyone for the kind messages they have received and ask that their privacy be respected at this difficult time.”

Mr Hulett said: “Quite simply, Ms Skinner was a lady who enjoyed her cigarettes and smoked a great number of them.

“A cigarette has been left burning and this developed into a very intense fire which led to her death, both because of the burns and the toxic fumes.”