Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory dies, aged 52

The award-winning actress had been diagnosed with cancer.

Helen McCrory

Helen McCrory OBE, star of stage and screen, has died.

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Her husband Damian Lewis – to whom McCrory had been married since 2007 – confirmed the sad news in a statement today (16th April).

Peaky Blinders star McCrory, who was aged 52, had been diagnosed with cancer, with Lewis saying she had fought “an heroic battle” and had “died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.”

Lewis wrote: “She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you.”

Born in London, England on 17th August, 1968, McCrory was educated at Queenswood School near Hatfield, Hertfordshire. Following a year spent living in Italy, she returned to Britain where she began studying acting at the Drama Centre in London.

Following early acclaim for roles on the stage, she made her screen debut in the 1993 television series Full Stretch, followed by a supporting role in the film Interview with the Vampire the following year.

Her most notable screen credits included portraying Cherie Blair in both The Queen (2006) and BBC Two/HBO TV movie The Special Relationship (2010) and playing Françoise in the film Charlotte Gray (2001), Rosanna Calvierri in Doctor Who episode ‘The Vampires of Venice’ (2010), Narcissa Malfoy in the final three Harry Potter films, Mama Jeanne in Martin Scorsese’s Hugo (2011), Clair Dowar in the James Bond film Skyfall (2012), Emma Banville in ITV’s Fearless (2017) and Kathryn Villiers in BBC Two’s MotherFatherSon (2019).

Her most recent credits were as Sonia Woodley QC in ITV’s acclaimed mini-series Quiz and as Prime Minister Dawn Ellison in BBC One drama Roadkill, both aired in 2020.

Helen McCrory (Polly Gray)
Helen McCrory (Polly Gray)

Perhaps her best known role though was in BBC drama Peaky Blinders, in which she played the formidable Polly Gray across five series from 2013 to 2019. A sixth and final series of Peaky Blinders is currently filming – it’s as yet unclear whether McCrory was able to take part. RadioTimes.com has reached out to the BBC for comment.

In 2017, McCrory was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for services to drama.

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She married fellow actor Damian Lewis in 2007. The pair have two children, daughter Manon (born 2006) and son Gulliver (born 2007).