Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory 'swore friends to secrecy during her cancer treatment'

PEAKY Blinders star Helen McCrory swore friends to secrecy during her cancer treatment, a pal revealed today.

The Polly Gray actress, who died on Friday, told few people about her diagnosis and continued with her charity work until a few weeks before her death.

Theatre director pal Carrie Cracknell said Helen, 52, refused to let the illness overshadow her family and professional life.

She told BBC Radio Four’s Today: “Helen wanted to be very private about her illness and I understand why. When you live in the public spotlight you have to find space to protect the things that are just for you.

“Very few people knew, and I only did because we were planning to transfer a show to Broadway and had to cancel that because she was having treatment. We were sworn to secrecy.

“Her need to be fully alive and be committed and to take things incredibly seriously, such as her family and charity work, defined her last few years for her as much as ever.”

Carrie, 41, added: “She faced up to cancer with a level of bravery and humour that was completely extraordinary. It was a very remarkable thing.” 

Helen’s actor husband Damian Lewis, 50, posted on social media: “I’m heartbroken to announce that after a heroic battle with cancer, the beautiful and mighty woman that is Helen McCrory has died peacefully at home, surrounded by a wave of love from friends and family.”

Helen, awarded the OBE in 2017, also starred in the Harry Potter franchise and as Cherie Blair in two films.

She showed signs of her illness on ITV’s Good Morning Britain last month when she and Damian were discussing their involvement with the Prince’s Trust.

Presenter Kate Garraway asked if she was “all right” and referenced her “croaky voice”.

The couple, who have a daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13, led fundraising efforts to provide hot meals for NHS staff in the pandemic. Their work led to almost £1million in donations to the Feed NHS scheme, and partnerships with chains including Leon and Wasabi. 

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