Ruth Madoc, star of Hi-de-hi, dies aged 79

Su Pollard, Simon Cadell, Michael Knowles and Ruth Madoc, from the BBC 1 comedy Hi-de-Hi. Madoc has died aged 79, her agent has confirmed in a statement. - PA/PA
Su Pollard, Simon Cadell, Michael Knowles and Ruth Madoc, from the BBC 1 comedy Hi-de-Hi. Madoc has died aged 79, her agent has confirmed in a statement. - PA/PA

Ruth Madoc, the star of stage and screen, has died at the age of 79 following a fall, her agent has confirmed.

The actress became a household name playing Gladys Pugh in the BBC's hugely successful sitcom Hi-de-Hi! about a holiday camp in the late 1950s.

Her career also spanned an array of roles in theatre and musicals, from Fiddler On The Roof to Gypsy.

Announcing her death, Phil Belfield, her agent, said: "It is with much sadness that we have to announce the death of our dear and much-loved client Ruth Madoc.

"Ruth passed away on the afternoon of Friday December 9 while in hospital following surgery for a fall she had earlier in the week, which had led her to have to withdraw from panto in Torquay."

Ruth Madoc - Mike Marsland/WireImage
Ruth Madoc - Mike Marsland/WireImage

He added: "From film work such as Fiddler On The Roof and Under Milk Wood with Richard Burton, and her iconic TV performance as Gladys Pugh in Hi De Hi!... she was truly a national treasure and was looking forward to getting back on the road in 2023 with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.

"A real legend of the British entertainment scene she was one of a kind and a unique talent loved by many. She is gone far too soon. Our hearts are broken! Thoughts are with her daughter Lowri, her son Rhys and all of her family."

Sir Tony Robinson, 76, the actor and writer, 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."

'Wonderfully gifted actress'

Gyles Brandreth, the broadcaster, 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: "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!"

Jon Petrie, the BBC's director of comedy, added: "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."

Ruth Madoc - Larry Ellis Collection/Getty Images
Ruth Madoc - Larry Ellis Collection/Getty Images

Madoc's death comes following a fall which led her to withdraw from performing in the pantomime Aladdin at the Princess Theatre in Torquay.

Posting a statement on Twitter, the theatre company said on Thursday: "Following an accident earlier this week, after medical assessment, regretfully Ruth Madoc is no longer able to appear in this year's pantomime of Aladdin at the Princess Theatre in Torquay."

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 made a speedy recovery.

Born in April 1943 and brought up in Llansamlet near Swansea, Madoc trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before her break-out role playing Fruma Sarah in the film version of the musical Fiddler On The Roof in 1971.

She is survived by her two children.