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Haydn Gwynne: Actress dies aged 66 | Ents & Arts News


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Actress Haydn Gwynne has died aged 66 following a recent cancer diagnosis, her representatives have confirmed.

The stage and screen actor was best known for her roles in comedy series Drop The Dead Donkey and as Camilla in British sitcom The Windsors.

Haydn Gwynne arrives for the Laurence Olivier Awards in 2006
Gwynne at the Laurence Olivier Awards in 2006

A statement from her representatives said: “It is with great sadness we are sharing with you that, following her recent diagnosis with cancer, the star of stage and screen Haydn Gwynne died in hospital in the small hours of Friday October 20, surrounded by her beloved sons, close family and friends.

“We would like to thank the staff and teams at the Royal Marsden and Brompton Hospitals for their wonderful care over the last few weeks.”

John Owen-Jones and Haydn Gwynne as the judges in  The Great British Bake Off Musical
Gwynne with John Owen-Jones as the judges in The Great British Bake Off Musical. Pic: Imageplotter/Alamy Live News

Helen Mirren paid tribute to Gwynne, calling her a “delight as a person and a consummate dedicated actress”.

“I had the huge pleasure of sharing the stage with her,” she added, “in the play ‘The Audience’ where, much like the original characters, (Queen Elizabeth II and Margaret Thatcher) we danced a delicate dance together.

“She was both funny and serious at the same time, a brilliant balancing act that her whole career exemplified. We will miss her very much.”

Cameron Mackintosh, a theatre producer who was working with Gwynne until she fell ill, said the news came as an “enormous shock”

He said: “Haydn was a truly wonderful person, as well as a phenomenally talented actress and singer, so it is a double tragedy for everyone to be deprived of both her spectacular talent and her company so abruptly.

“The company of ‘Old Friends’ is dedicating tonight’s performance to her memory and extraordinary career. As Haydn raised a glass to the audience and said, ‘I would like to propose a toast…’, everyone in the Gielgud Theatre tonight would like to propose a toast to dear Haydn. God bless her.”

Born in Sussex, Gwynne spent her early adult life in Rome teaching English, but had long wanted to be an actress and returned home to pursue her dream at age 25.

She first made her name in 1990 as the icy assistant editor Alex Pates in the comedy Drop The Dead Donkey, which also earned her a BAFTA TV nomination in 1992.

Her role as Dr Joanna Graham in Peak Practice also helped propel her to fame.

She had a celebrated career on stage as well and received two Olivier Award nods for her performance in West End productions of City Of Angels and Billy Elliot The Musical.

Haydn Gwynne,
Gwynne with Billy Elliot cast members in February 2006

She secured two further nominations for her roles in The Threepenny Opera and Women On The Verge Of A Nervous Breakdown.

Her West End theatre roles included playing Margaret Thatcher in Peter Morgan’s 2013 play The Audience, which also starred Dame Helen Mirren as the Queen.

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Gwynne featured in a number of royal series and portrayed former royal aide Lady Susan Hussey, who resigned from the royal household following a racism row, in the fifth series of The Crown.

She also joined The Great British Bake Off Musical as Pam Lee, the judge based on Prue Leith, earlier this year.

She had been due to appear in Mackintosh’s latest musical production, titled Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends, at the Gielgud Theatre when the show opened in September – but she had to withdraw beforehand due to “sudden personal circumstances”.

At the time, Mackintosh had recalled that she had become an “integral part” of the “very close-knit company” after giving an “unforgettable” performance of the song Ladies Who Lunch during an Old Friends gala premiere in May 2022, adding: “Haydn will be very much missed.”

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Written by: radioroxi

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