Gwyneth Powell, actor known for playing Grange Hill headteacher Mrs McClusky, dies aged 76

 Gwyneth Powell in ‘Armchair Thriller’ (Fremantle Media/Shutterstock)
Gwyneth Powell in ‘Armchair Thriller’ (Fremantle Media/Shutterstock)

Gwyneth Powell, who starred in the BBC’s long-running kids drama series Grange Hill as Bridget McClusky has died aged 76, her agent confirmed Monday (12 September).

Her representative, Matthew Lacey, said in a statement on behalf of the family that the actor died after “complications following a major operation for a perforated colon”.

Per the BBC, he added that she “passed away peacefully” with her husband, actor Alan Leith, and niece beside her last Thursday (8 September).

“Gwyneth will be greatly missed by her adoring family and friends along with her many fans from multiple TV appearances,” he added.

Powell played Mrs McClusky, arguably Grange Hill School’s best-known head teacher, for eleven series between 1981 to 1991.

“At first, Mrs McClusky was written as a ‘twin set and pearls’ role, but I was quite young at the time and didn’t want to play it like that,” she told the BBC in 2008.

“My period did coincide with the Thatcher years. I think Mrs McClusky became memorable because we had a prime minister like that.”

Over the years, Powell appeared in other television programmes such as Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost, and Holby City.

From 2013 to 2017, she played Greg Davies' mother Polly Davies in the Channel 4 comedy Man Down.

In a tribute to the actor, Patricia Hidalgo, director of BBC Children’s and Education, said: “We are very sorry to hear of the passing of Gwyneth Powell.

“Her famous portrayal of Mrs McClusky is one that will be fondly remembered by all those that grew up watching Grange Hill.

“Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”