Haydn Gwynne death

Actor and Singer Haydn Gwynne Has Passed Away at the Age of 66!

Haydn Gwynne, an esteemed actor, has passed away at the age of 66 due to cancer. Gwynne had a successful career on both television and the stage. He is best known for his role as the cynical assistant editor Alex Pates in Channel 4’s workplace farce Drop the Dead Donkey.

She was nominated for an Olivier and a Tony for her role as Billy Elliot’s dance teacher in the London and New York productions of the musical, and she received three more Olivier nominations for her work in the musicals City of Angels, Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (based on the film by Pedro Almodóvar), and The Threepenny Opera.

On Friday, her representative released a statement saying that Gwynne had passed away in hospital “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.”

Jack Thorne, whose play When Winston Went to War With the Wireless featured Gwynne at London’s Donmar Warehouse this year, was one of the people paying tribute to Gwynne. “Haydn was the kindest, loveliest soul and a wonderful performer,” stated Thorne. She was completely selfless and generous.

Haydn Gwynne death

She is “a gifted and versatile all-rounder,” as author Jonathan Harvey put it. Former police officer and current principal of Oxford’s St. Anne’s College, Helen King, revealed that Gwynne had work shadowed her in preparation for her role as Supt. Susan Blake on Merseybeat. “I remember her as perceptive, hard-working, and funny,” King added.

Gwynne left the cast of the upcoming West End production of Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends in September 2023. She had previously headlined a one-night-only production of the revue honoring Sondheim’s musical theater career.

Cameron Mackintosh, the show’s producer, stated of Haydn at the time of Gwynne’s departure, “Haydn gave an unforgettable performance of Ladies Who Lunch during the Old Friends gala premiere in May 2022 and has been an integral part of this very close-knit company ever since.”

In honor of Gwynne and her “extraordinary career,” Mackintosh declared Friday’s performance of Old Friends a tribute. At the Donmar in 2018 as Lady Wishfort in the Restoration comedy The Way of the World, and in 2023 as a no-nonsense judge in The Great British Bake Off Musical, Gwynne has played a number of prominent roles on the West End stage, including the role of Margaret Thatcher opposite Helen Mirren’s Queen.

Queen Elizabeth in Richard III (with Kevin Spacey at London’s Old Vic in 2011) and Volumnia in Coriolanus (for the RSC) were among her Shakespearean roles. Rufus Norris, director of the National Theatre, said on Friday:

“I was devastated to learn today of Haydn’s passing. I had been a huge fan of hers for years before finally having the opportunity to work with her on The Threepenny Opera at the National Theatre. Her unique combination of wit, wickedness, grace and fearless craft was a complete joy to be in a room with. She returned, equally brilliantly, in The Welkin several years later, and will be deeply mourned by the whole staff here, where she was universally beloved and respected.”

Gwynne has played notably royal and aristocratic roles in recent media, including Camilla in Channel 4’s comedy The Windsors as a “soap-opera villainess” and Lady Susan Hussey, lady-in-waiting to Imelda Staunton’s Queen, in Netflix’s The Crown.

She has had recurrent appearances in Peak Practice and Merseybeat, and she played a scheming gallerist on the BBC’s Sherlock. Before Drop the Dead Donkey, Gwynne had already been well-known for her role as an English professor in the 1989 TV miniseries Nice Work, adapted on David Lodge’s novel.

She was nominated for a Bafta for her role as Alex Pates, the GlobeLink News’s second-in-command under the sadsack editor George Dent. After two seasons of the hit sitcom, she departed from her role as the character.

While attending the University of Nottingham to study sociology, Gwynne performed in student performances at the Edinburgh Fringe. She was born and raised in West Sussex. She taught English at the University of Rome when she finished her degree.

She did not go to theater school but received her big break in 1984 when Alan Ayckbourn directed the musical His Monkey Wife by Sandy Wilson, based on John Collier’s novel, at the Scarborough Open Air Theatre. Gwyneth and her ex-partner Jason Phipps have two boys.

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