Helen McCrory’s cancer diagnosis was known by ‘very few’ as pal was ‘sworn to secrecy’

Helen McCrory: Finn Cole pays tribute to Peaky Blinders star

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Helen McCrory’s death was announced on Friday as her husband Damian Lewis confirmed she died from cancer at the age of 52. Since the news broke, many have paid tribute to the acclaimed actor, known for Peaky Blinders and Harry Potter.

Among those remembering her was her close friend Carrie Cracknell who appeared on BBC Radio Four’s Today yesterday.

She revealed how very few people were aware of her having cancer as she was a very private person.

Theatre director Cracknell said: “Helen wanted to be very private about her illness.

“Very few people knew. We were sworn to secrecy.”

She said the only reason she was aware of her illness was because they were planning on transferring a show to Broadway.

Cracknell explained she was having treatment at the time so this had to be cancelled.

The 41-year-old continued: “Very few people knew, and I only did because we were planning to transfer a show to Broadway and had to cancel that because she was having treatment.

“We were sworn to secrecy.”

“Helen wanted to be very private about her illness and I understand why.

“When you live in the public spotlight you have to find space to protect the things that are just for you.”

The director added: “Her need to be fully alive and be committed and to take things incredibly seriously, such as her family and charity work, defined her last few years for her as much as ever.”

The 41-year-old went on to praise how McCrory faced her disease with “bravery” and “humour”.

She continued: “She faced up to cancer with a level of bravery and humour that was extraordinary.”

McCrory’s death was confirmed on Friday by her husband in a moving statement.

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He informed his followers on social media about her passing, saying she had died “peacefully” at home.

The Homeland actor wrote on Twitter: “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.

“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 had appeared in several huge roles across stage and screen over her career.

Many will recognise her from her parts as Narcissa Malfoy in Harry Potter and as Polly Gray in Peaky Blinders.

However, she also had roles in Skyfall, The Queen, Quiz and, most recently, Roadkill.

As well as being an accomplished actor, McCrory was a fierce campaigner for charities.

Alongside Lewis, she campaigned for the Feed NHS scheme, which raised almost £1million in donations to feed NHS staff during the pandemic.

Her last television appearance was last month when she appeared on Good Morning Britain to speak about her charity work for the Prince’s Trust.

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