Hi-de-Hi! co-star says he ‘never stopped laughing’ on set with Ruth Madoc
Hi-de-Hi! star Ruth Madoc who died age 79 after a fall has been remembered for her fun and laughter.
Her agent said she was “gone far too soon” after suffering a fall earlier in the week, which had forced her to withdraw from starring in the pantomime Aladdin at the Princess Theatre in Torquay.
She died on Friday afternoon in hospital following surgery, he said.
Madoc became a household name playing chief yellowcoat Gladys Pugh in the BBC One sitcom about a holiday camp set in the late 1950s.
Her career also spanned an array of roles in theatre and musicals, from Fiddler On The Roof to Gypsy.
In a statement given to the PA news agency, Phil Belfield of talent agency Belfield & Ward said Madoc was “truly a national treasure” and had been looking forward to touring with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in January 2023.
He added: “A real legend of the British entertainment scene she was one of a kind and a unique talent loved by many.”
Jeffrey Holland, who played Spike Dixon in the BBC One sitcom Hi-de-Hi!, spoke of Madoc’s many talents during an interview with BBC News on Saturday.
He said: “We were together for a long time, not just in Hi-de-Hi! the TV series but we did the stage show, the summer seasons with it and I did several pantomimes with Ruth as well over the years back in the 1980s so we’ve got a lot of happy memories to draw on and she was a wonderful performer and she’ll be greatly missed.
Our darling Ruth Madoc unexpectedly passed away yesterday. A true legend of stage & screen, from Gladys Pugh to Little Britain & Calendar Girls & a great year ahead with some screen work and a UK tour. Our hearts are broken 💔 We will not see her like again! Rest well Ruthie! 🏴 pic.twitter.com/aeZ04eDCWi
— Belfield & Ward Ltd (@BelfieldWard) December 10, 2022
“She was a very talented musical performer with a wonderful singing voice, she has a history that goes back a long way. It was a joy to work with someone like that, we had such laughs.
“I was very lucky to work with that comedy crew, we never stopped laughing from morning until night. I will have those memories of Ruth forever, she left us a wonderful legacy with Gladys Pugh.”
Holland said Madoc used people she had grown up with as a “role model” for the voice and characterisation of Gladys.
He added: “She drew on her own ancestry and dragged that wonderful voice up from exaggerated Welsh valleys voice – they called her the vamp from the valleys.
“It’s such a tragedy but there you go.”
During her varied career, Madoc also starred in Matt Lucas and David Walliams’ comedy series Little Britain, playing character Daffyd Thomas’s mother.
Sharing a photograph of the actress on Instagram, Lucas said: “We are both shocked and saddened to hear about the passing of Ruth Madoc.
“We grew up watching her iconic and genius performance as Gladys Pugh in ‘Hi-De-Hi’ and were thrilled when she agreed to come on board ‘Little Britain’ as Dafydd’s mum.
“She was brilliant in the show and an absolute delight to work with. We send our love and condolences to her family x David and Matt.”
Meanwhile actor and writer Sir Tony Robinson, 86, tweeted: “So sad to hear my lovely friend Ruth Madoc has passed.
“She was not only funny and highly intelligent, she was smart, kindly, a loyal trade unionist, and wore her heart on the left. She’ll be much missed.”
So sad to hear my lovely friend Ruth Madoc has passed. She was not only funny and highly intelligent, she was smart, kindly,a loyal trade unionist, and wore her heart on the left. She’ll be much missed.
— Tony Robinson (@Tony_Robinson) December 10, 2022
Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth also remembered Madoc for being a “wonderfully gifted actress”.
The former MP, who is now a writer and reporter on BBC’s The One Show, said on Twitter: “This is such sad news. Ruth was a very lovely person.
“I was lucky enough to get to know her through my best friend from school, Simon Cadell. In Hi-de-Hi! they were irresistible. RIP Ruth Madoc & thanks for the memories. Goodbye campers!”
So very sad to hear that lovely Ruth Madoc has passed away. She was such a talented and lovely woman. Thoughts with her family. RIP. pic.twitter.com/tWAzElZOYO
— Les Dennis (@LesDennis) December 10, 2022
Cadell played holiday camp boss Jeffrey Fairbrother, the object of affections for Madoc’s character.
Former Family Fortunes presenter Les Dennis and actor Joe McGann also paid tribute to the actress on Twitter.
Dennis said: “So very sad to hear that lovely Ruth Madoc has passed away. She was such a talented and lovely woman. Thoughts with her family.”
Just heard the very sad news RIP to the lovely Ruth Madoc. I've worked with her several times, including an episode @BBCDoctors … she will be greatly missed 💙 pic.twitter.com/DAytAPu303
— Paul Chuckle 😷 (@PaulChuckle2) December 10, 2022
And McGann wrote: “Such sad news about the amazing Ruth Madoc. I was lucky enough to work with her more than once and I loved the bright, skilful, funny, fearless, kind, and inspiring ball of light that she always was.”
Comedian Paul Chuckle also tweeted: “Just heard the very sad news RIP to the lovely Ruth Madoc. I’ve worked with her several times, including an episode @BBCDoctors … she will be greatly missed.”
Jon Petrie, BBC director of comedy, said: “We are saddened to hear the news about Ruth Madoc. She was a true star of stage and screen and her comedy performances were adored by the nation. Our thoughts are with her friends and family at this time.”
"She was a true star of stage and screen."
BBC Director of Comedy, Jon Petrie, pays tribute to Ruth Madoc https://t.co/zc0GT08vPG pic.twitter.com/cCb7lZ8swX
— BBC Press Office (@bbcpress) December 10, 2022
In 2018, Madoc overcame her fears to reveal her breasts to a live audience in the ladies’ version of The Real Full Monty alongside stars including Coleen Nolan, Victoria Derbyshire and Michelle Heaton.
They performed a dance to The Greatest Showman’s This Is Me to raise awareness about breast cancer.
A year later, she broke her hip in a fall while rehearsing for her role in Calendar Girls, but confounded doctors with her speedy recovery.
Born in April 1943 and brought up in Llansamlet near Swansea, Madoc trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) before her break-out role playing Fruma Sarah in the film version of the musical Fiddler On The Roof in 1971.
A decade later she appeared on our screens in fan-favourite sitcom Hi-de-Hi!, having had other roles including Mrs Dai Bread Two in 1972 comedy film Under Milk Wood.
She is survived by her two children, Lowri and Rhys.