Peaky Blinders actor Helen McCrory dies aged 52

Husband Damian Lewis says the actor ‘died as she lived. Fearlessly’ after cancer battle

Actor Helen McCrory, known for starring in Peaky Blinders and the James Bond film Skyfall, has died aged 52, after a battle with cancer.

McCrory's husband Damian Lewis announced the death of his wife in a statement on Twitter.

He wrote: “I’m heartbroken to announce that after an heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family. 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.”

The actor was best known for playing powerful women such as Shelby family matriarch Aunt Polly in the BBC gang drama Peaky Blinders, Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films and the home secretary in Skyfall.


McCrory’s breakout role was as Anna Karenina in the 2000 TV adaptation of the classic novel.

She had since been a regular figure in prestige TV dramas, including the ITV hit Quiz, the BBC political series Roadkill, psychological thriller MotherFatherSon and the adaptation of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials.

She also played Cherie Blair, wife of former British prime minister Tony Blair, in both The Queen and The Special Relationship.

Piers Wenger, director of drama at the BBC, said: “Helen was one of the finest actresses this country will ever see.

“From Potter to Peaky, from Blair to Bond, Helen’s fearlessness made every part she played unique and unmissable.”

McCrory was born in Paddington, London, to a Welsh mother and Scottish-born father and was the eldest of three children. She attended school in Hertfordshire, then spent a year living in Italy, before returning to London to study acting at the Drama Centre.

McCrory and Lewis married in 2007. Their daughter Manon was born in 2006 and their son Gulliver was born in 2007.

She was made an OBE in the 2017 new year honours for services to drama. – Reuters/PA