Actress Haydn Gwynne’s Legacy Lives On

Actress Haydn Gwynne, known for her remarkable performances on screen and stage, has sadly passed away at the age of 66 after a battle with cancer. In her final days, she was surrounded by her beloved sons, close family, and friends at the Royal Marsden and Brompton hospitals. Their heartfelt statement expressed gratitude for the excellent care provided during this difficult time.

Gwynne’s career was nothing short of extraordinary. From her sardonic portrayal of Alex Pates in Channel 4’s newsroom satire “Drop the Dead Donkey” to her Tony award-nominated role as the dance teacher in “Billy Elliot the Musical,” she captivated audiences with her talent and versatility. She also received critical acclaim for her performances in other productions like “City of Angels,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” and “The Threepenny Opera.”

Haydn Gwynne performing in Women On the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown.

As news of her passing spread, tributes poured in from colleagues and admirers. Playwright Jack Thorne, who worked closely with Gwynne in the play “When Winston Went to War With the Wireless,” praised her kindness and undeniable talent. Writer Jonathan Harvey described her as a “gifted and versatile all-rounder,” highlighting her exceptional abilities both on and off the stage.

Gwynne’s contributions to the West End theatre scene were truly memorable. She portrayed Margaret Thatcher in Peter Morgan’s 2013 play “The Audience,” took on the role of Lady Wishfort in the Restoration comedy “The Way of the World,” and even appeared as a no-nonsense judge in “The Great British Bake Off Musical.” Her talent extended to Shakespearean productions as well, where she played Queen Elizabeth in “Richard III” alongside Kevin Spacey and took on the role of Volumnia in the RSC’s “Coriolanus” in 2017.

Haydn Gwynne at the Women's Prize for Fiction awards ceremony.

Gwynne’s on-screen presence was equally captivating. Whether as a soap-opera villainess in Channel 4’s “The Windsors” or as Lady Susan Hussey, lady-in-waiting to Imelda Staunton’s Queen, in Netflix’s “The Crown,” she left a lasting impression on viewers. She also portrayed intriguing characters such as a scheming gallerist in the BBC’s “Sherlock” and had recurring roles in popular shows like “Peak Practice” and “Merseybeat.”

Although Gwynne gained recognition through her roles in various productions, it was her portrayal of Alex Pates in “Drop the Dead Donkey” that catapulted her to fame. She received a Bafta nomination for her outstanding performance as the sassy assistant editor, Alex Pates. Even after leaving GlobeLink News, her character remained beloved by fans.

Born in West Sussex, Gwynne had a passion for the arts from a young age. She participated in local amdram productions and pursued a degree in sociology at the University of Nottingham. During her time at university, she also dabbled in student theatre at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Without formal drama school training, Gwynne’s big break came in 1984 when she worked with Alan Ayckbourn in Sandy Wilson’s musical play “His Monkey Wife” in Scarborough. Gwynne leaves behind two sons she shared with her partner, Jason Phipps.

Haydn Gwynne’s legacy will forever be remembered in the hearts of those who admired and appreciated her immense talent. Her contributions to the entertainment industry will continue to inspire future generations of actors and actresses. She will be greatly missed.