Zammo actor Lee MacDonald pays tribute to ‘Grange Hill’ actress Gwyneth Powell after she dies aged 76

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Lee MacDonald has paid tribute to ‘Grange Hill’ actress Gwyneth Powell as a ‘wonderful lady’ after her death aged 76 from surgery complications credit:Bang Showbiz
Lee MacDonald has paid tribute to ‘Grange Hill’ actress Gwyneth Powell as a ‘wonderful lady’ after her death aged 76 from surgery complications credit:Bang Showbiz

Lee MacDonald has paid tribute to ‘Grange Hill’ actress Gwyneth Powell as a “wonderful lady” after her death aged 76 from surgery complications.

The 54-year-old actor – who played school lad Zammo McGuire on the BBC series, on which Gwyneth portrayed headmistress Mrs McClusky – paid tribute after her passing was announced on Monday. (12.09.22)

Her agent Matthew Lacey confirmed her passing in a statement on behalf of the family, saying she died “after complications following a major operation for a perforated colon”.

He added: “She passed away peacefully, with her husband (Alan Leith) and niece at her bedside.

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

Lee later said on Instagram on Monday evening: “So sad to hear the loss of Gwyneth Powell AKA Mrs McClusky, what a wonderful lady and will be missed by so many, she was a massive part of my childhood, sleep well Gwyneth.”

He signed off with three heart emojis and a trio of kisses.

Gwyneth’s agent said she died on Thursday September 8 in Brighton – the same day as Queen Elizabeth’s passing aged 96 – but her death was only announced on Monday.

The actress appeared in ‘Grange Hill’ for 11 series between 1981 and 1991 until she requested her character was written out so she could pursue other parts.

Patricia Hidalgo, director of BBC Children’s and Education, said on Monday: “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.”

Gwyneth landed her first TV big TV role in 1971 dystopian drama series The ‘Guardians’ and was more recently known for her role in Channel 4’s 2013 comedy series ‘Man Down’ as the mother of Greg Davies’ chaotic teacher character.

Other credits included ‘Heartbeat’, ‘Holby City’ and ‘Father Brown’, along with ‘Coronation Street’ and ‘Emmerdale’.

Her husband Alan Leith has starred in TV series such as ‘Prime Suspect’ and ‘Silent Witness’.

Gwyneth said in one of her last interviews she “always enjoyed comedy” as it “feels more like playing than working really”.

She said about her headmistress character in ‘Grange Hill’: “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.

“We started with the clothes and she was quite fashion conscious and chic. I was told by lots of people she was a great fillip to young women teachers who started applying for headships.

“The show had repercussions in all kinds of ways and the character did too. My period did coincide with the Thatcher years. I think Mrs McClusky became memorable because we had a prime minister like that.”