'Downton Abbey' star Lesley Nicol heartbroken as her 'warrior' husband David Heald dies

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 25: (L-R) David Keith Heald and Lesley Nicol attend the 2019 British Academy Britannia Awards presented by American Airlines and Jaguar Land Rover at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 25, 2019 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Emma McIntyre/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)
Lesley Nicol's husband David Keith Heald had died aged 68 (Emma McIntyre/BAFTA LA/Getty Images for BAFTA LA)

Downton Abbey star Lesley Nicol’s husband David Keith Heald has died ‘unexpectedly’, her agent has confirmed.

In a statement, Paul Pearson told The Sun: “I would like to confirm the passing of Lesley’s beloved husband David Heald, known to all his wonderful friends as Da’arboth.

"Da’arboth was an amazing, unique and inspirational man who was always at Lesley’s side ‘her warrior’. We are all processing this unexpected turn of events and Lesley would like to thank everyone for their loving and kind messages of support."

Nicol, who portrays cook Beryl Patmore in the period drama and follow-up films, had been over in the States performing her one-woman show, How The Hell Did I Get Here?

Sophie McShera stars as Daisy and Lesley Nicol stars as Mrs. Patmore in DOWNTON ABBEY: A New Era, a Focus Features release.  
Credit: Ben Blackall / © 2021 Focus Features, LLC
Sophie McShera stars as Daisy and Lesley Nicol stars as Mrs. Patmore in Downton Abbey: A New Era (Ben Blackall/Focus Features)

Heald — who also suffered from heart problems — said in a Facebook post on 26 April that he had tested positive for Covid in a 'fit to fly' test, although there is currently no suggestion that the illness played a part in his death.

The 68-year-old wrote: "The fit to fly test was positive! Now going on May 4. I caught it when I had the spring booster shot!"

LOS ANGELES, CA - NOVEMBER 05:  David Keith Heald (L) and actress Lesley Nicol attend the International Myeloma Foundation 10th Annual Comedy Celebration at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre on November 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for International Myeloma Foundation)
David Keith Heald (L) and Lesley Nicol attend, 2016. (Getty Images for International Myeloma Foundation)

Nicol was married to the spiritual healer — who was known as Da'aboth Te'He'Ling — for fifteen years and the pair lived in West London. The pair did not have children.

Read more: Downton Abbey: A New Era stars tease possibility of a third film

A friend told the publication that Nicol is "heartbroken" while branding the couple "a real couple and team."

The pal also remembered the couple's "very strong bond and love", stating that Keith had been his wife's "biggest champion."

Speaking about their relationship, Nicol said previously: "It’s a good partnership. “I met him through a friend and we just hit it off.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - APRIL 18: Lesley Nicol attends
Lesley Nicol attends the 'How The Hell Did I Get Here?' photocall in New York on April 18, 2022 (John Lamparski/Getty Images)

"He is a martial artist and he does lots of spiritual stuff like Reiki. But he is interested in our world."

Nicol's one-woman show premiered in New York last month and its immediate success resulted in its run being extended.

The original musical follows Nicol's life and career, and has been lauded as "painting a portrait of the actress through words and music."

Watch: The cast of Downton Abbey - A New Era on returning to Highclere Castle