'Peaky Blinders' pays special tribute to Helen McCrory after death from cancer

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Helen McCrory arriving at a gala screening of Peaky Blinders at the BFI, London.
Helen McCrory arriving at a gala screening of Peaky Blinders in London in 2013

Helen McCrory has been remembered with a special on-set tribute by the cast and crew of Peaky Blinders.

The star of stage and screen — who was married to fellow actor Damian Lewisdied aged 52 last week following a private battle with cancer.

McCrory was well known for her portrayal of Aunt Polly Gray in BBC period crime drama Peaky Blinders, which is currently filming its sixth season on location.

Director Anthony Byrne posted a picture of a Peaky Blinders clapperboard painted with a picture of McCrory as Aunt Polly surrounded by the words: "Rest In Peace Helen."

The picture, posted to the BBC's official Peaky Blinder's account was captioned: "Forever part of the Peaky Blinders family."

Byrne revealed on Instagram: "Today was beautiful and strange and sad and surreal. We found ourselves in the most beautiful environment. The sun beating down on us and it felt ok. It was incredible but not surprising to read the many tributes and articles dedicated to Helen over the weekend.

Watch: 'Peaky Blinders' and 'Harry Potter' star Helen McCrory dies at 52

"This is our ‘A’ camera board and Polly Gray is always in front of our cameras.

Read more: 'Harry Potter' star Tom Felton pays tribute to screen mum Helen McCrory

"This board was designed by @lo_marie_s a super talented tattoo artist in Manchester. It has meant a huge amount to me and the crew on Peaky to have an image of Helen on set with us everyday."

A further tribute added: "Helen's performance as Polly Gray was inspirational, joyous, transgressive, hilarious and incredibly moving."

Some of the cast including Helen McCrory who plays Polly Gray on the set of Peaky Blinders as it shoots its fourth series in Liverpool
Helen McCrory on set as Polly Gray shooting the fourth series of Peaky Blinders in Liverpool in 2017.

"As a person she was off-the scale-charismatic, and deeply caring. We feel so privileged to have worked with her over the last decade.

"All our thoughts and love are with Damian and family."

McCrory starred as Aunt Polly, the unofficial head of the Peaky Blinders gang in 1890s Birmingham, since the BBC drama launched in 2013. 

It quickly became a cult hit worldwide and Aunt Polly was hailed as an empowering female character on screen.

The end of season five saw Polly accept a proposal from Aberama Gold, played by Aidan Gillen.

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory arrive at a Bafta party on February 1, 2020. (Photo by David M. Benett/Getty Images)
Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory married in 2007 after meeting in a stage production at London's Almeida Theatre. (Getty Images)

McCrory — also known for her roles in the Harry Potter film franchise and Skyfall – married Homeland star Lewis in 2007. They have two children together: daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13.

Lewis, 50, announced the news of her death on social media on Friday, saying: "I'm heartbroken to announce that after a 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."

Peaky Blinders director Byrne paid personal tribute with a post on Instagram, which read: "Many glasses were raised to Helen in Manchester on Friday night.

"Helen was a force of nature and her loss to film, tv and theatre is immense. More than that, it is the loss of the great work she would’ve gone on to do. I am honoured to have worked with her telling the story of the Shelby’s and watching her talent shine as the matriarch Polly Gray. She will be greatly missed by the Peaky family."

Read more: Damian Lewis's tribute to 'utterly heroic' wife Helen McCrory

McCrory appeared on Good Morning Britain via video call last month with Lewis to discuss their involvement with the Prince's Trust charity.

Host Kate Garraway asked if she was "all right" as she had a "croaky voice".

The couple led fundraising efforts to provide hot meals for NHS staff during the coronavirus pandemic.

Watch: Damian Lewis pays emotional tribute to Helen McCrory

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