Helen McCrory, who played matriarch Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders alongside Cillian McCrory, died in April 2021 before the final series had begun filming.
For the first time in its near ten-year history, there will be no fearless leading matriarch Polly Gray in the upcoming Peaky Blinders series.
Helen McCrory, who played Marie Wilson in the BBC gangster drama Peaky Blinders, died from breast cancer on April 20, 2021, at the age of 52.
Helen departed and left behind her husband Damian Lewis and their two young children.
Fans of the actress were equally devastated by the news, which was broken by widower Damian in a heartrending statement.
“I’m devastated to announce that after a courageous battle with cancer, the magnificent and powerful Helen McCrory has passed away peacefully at home, surrounded by a sea of love from friends and family,” wrote Jackman.
“She died as she had lived. She was brave. We adore her and are grateful to have had her in our lives.”
The announcement came as a shock to Helen, who bravely kept her illness secret while continuing to work.
Helen made a brief appearance on Good Morning Britain just weeks before her death to promote her charity work.
Helen spoke about her work with the Prince’s Trust during a lockdown on Sunday, sitting next to her supportive husband Damian.
midway through the interview, presenter Kate Garraway inadvertently inquired, “Are you OK, Helen?
Wow. Helen McCrory on TV discussing her important charity work for the Prince’s Trust just six weeks before her death from cancer – and very few people had any idea what she was clearly going through. An incredible person. pic.twitter.com/5yhc6jbzol
— Dan Wootton (@danwootton) April 16, 2021
“You sound like you have a sore throat. Do you have a hoarse voice?”
“I’ve got children!” he replied with a grin, to which she responded, “You do have children!”
Helen’s death was announced seven weeks later, with fans recalling her final TV appearance and complimenting the star for continuing her charity work until the end.
During the coronavirus lockdown, Helen and her husband Damian donated over £1 million to Feed NHS to provide hot meals for nurses working on the front line.
One of Helen’s closest friends revealed that after her death, the actress had asked them all to keep her cancer condition a secret.
Friends were “sworn to secrecy” by Carrie Cracknell, a trusted member of Helen’s inner circle who also guided her in a stage production of Medea when she decided not to allow reports on her declining health to detract from her charity work.
“Carrie,” said, “Only ‘very, very few individuals’ knew that Helen was having difficulties on the inside.
“Helen wanted to keep the illness private,” says Carrie. “I understand why,” she adds when speaking with BBC’s Today Programme. When you live in the public eye, you have to find time to protect your things.
“Very, very few people knew, and I only did because we were planning to transfer a show to Broadway and we had to cancel that because she was undergoing treatment. We were sworn to secrecy.
“Her need to be completely alive and dedicated, as well as her passion for family and charity work, defined her previous several years for her,” according to Vogue.
Carrie also paid tribute to Helen’s valiant battle, stating: “Helen confronted it with a level of bravery and humor that was unimaginable, and she was teaching others around her how to live. It was a remarkable occurrence.”
Helen may have appeared in the final series of Peaky Blinders had it not been for the Covid pandemic, which claimed her life.
Filming was delayed until January 2021, when Helen could not attend owing to her cancer diagnosis.
Cillian Murphy, who plays Tommy Shelby, said the entire Peaky cast was “desperately sad” to begin production without the actress.
“Aunt Polly will never be without Peaky’s presence,” stated creator Steven Knight.
“We decided right away that we needed to go ahead and complete it,” Mr. Ewing said of the project’s end. “We hope that the series will serve as a testament to Helen.”
“The presence of Helen and her character is still felt in the series, and it’s a big part of Tommy’s story this season,” Murphy told People. “She was a huge influence on him before he met Alana.” When asked if the return of Helen would be as emotional for fans as when she died, Murphy had no doubts.
Helen’s career has spanned decades, from the 1970s to today. She was also memorable for playing Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter film series, which ran from 2001 until 2011.
At the time, her on-screen spouse, Jason Issacs, said working with the actress was a “highlight” of his life.
Helen, who rose to popularity in the 1990s, has played Cherie Blair in Interview with a Vampire and The Queen, winning critical acclaim for her work as the Prime Minister’s wife.
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