Remembering Haydn Gwynne: A Remarkable Talent

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of the immensely talented actress, Haydn Gwynne. In a heartfelt statement, her agent shared that Haydn peacefully passed away in the hospital, surrounded by her beloved sons, close family, and friends. We would like to express our gratitude to the dedicated staff at the Royal Marsden and Brompton hospitals for their exceptional care during her final weeks.

A Distinguished Career

Throughout her illustrious career, Haydn Gwynne made an unforgettable impact on both television and stage. Many will fondly remember her remarkable portrayal of the sardonic assistant editor, Alex Pates, in Channel 4’s beloved newsroom satire, “Drop the Dead Donkey.” Her performances earned her nominations for prestigious Olivier and Tony awards. Notably, Haydn garnered praise for her role as the dance teacher in “Billy Elliot the Musical” in London and New York. Her exceptional talent also earned her three Olivier nominations for her roles in “City of Angels,” “Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown,” and “The Threepenny Opera.”

Tributes to a Remarkable Soul

Those fortunate enough to have collaborated with Haydn Gwynne have paid tribute to her extraordinary qualities. Playwright Jack Thorne described her as the “kindest, loveliest soul and a wonderful performer.” Fellow writer Jonathan Harvey hailed her as a “gifted and versatile all-rounder.”

A Notable Journey

In September 2023, Haydn withdrew from the highly anticipated West End revue, “Stephen Sondheim’s Old Friends,” just prior to its opening. However, her unforgettable performance of “Ladies Who Lunch” during the Old Friends gala premiere in May 2022 will forever be remembered. Producer Cameron Mackintosh expressed his gratitude, stating that Haydn had been an integral part of the close-knit company.

Haydn Gwynne’s remarkable contributions to the West End theatre community deserve special mention. From portraying Margaret Thatcher in Peter Morgan’s 2013 play, “The Audience,” alongside Helen Mirren as the Queen, to captivating audiences as the gilded matriarch Lady Wishfort in the Restoration comedy “The Way of the World” at the Donmar in 2018, she left an indelible mark. She also impressed as a no-nonsense judge in “The Great British Bake Off Musical” in 2023 and excelled in Shakespearean productions, playing Queen Elizabeth in “Richard III” opposite Kevin Spacey at London’s Old Vic in 2011 and portraying Volumnia in “Coriolanus” for the RSC in 2017.

A Versatile Talent

Haydn Gwynne’s versatility as an actress was evident in her ability to bring regal and noble characters to life. From portraying a “soap-opera villainess” as Camilla in Channel 4’s comedy “The Windsors” to portraying Lady Susan Hussey, lady-in-waiting to Imelda Staunton’s Queen, in Netflix’s “The Crown,” she showcased her range. Her performance as a scheming gallerist in the BBC’s “Sherlock” and her recurring roles in “Peak Practice” and “Merseybeat” further highlighted her talent.

From Breakthrough to Stardom

While Haydn Gwynne received praise for her role as an English lecturer in the 1989 TV mini-series “Nice Work,” her breakthrough role came with “Drop the Dead Donkey.” As Alex Pates, the second-in-command to the sadsack editor George Dent at GlobeLink News, Haydn captivated audiences with her impeccable comedic timing. Her outstanding performance earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Light Entertainment Performance. She portrayed the character in the first two series of the popular com-edy before bidding farewell to GlobeLink.

A Remarkable Journey

Haydn Gwynne was born in West Sussex and discovered her passion for acting through local amateur dramatic productions. She pursued sociology at the University of Nottingham, where she also engaged in student theater at the Edinburgh Fringe. Despite not attending drama school, her exceptional talent shone through. In 1984, she got her big break when Alan Ayckbourn directed her in Sandy Wilson’s musical play, “His Monkey Wife,” based on John Collier’s novel, in Scarborough. Haydn had two sons with her partner, Jason Phipps.

Today, we fondly remember Haydn Gwynne as a remarkably talented actress who graced the stage and screen with her exceptional performances. Her legacy will continue to inspire future generations of actors and leave an indelible mark on the world of entertainment.


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