Hi-de-Hi! star Ruth Madoc has died aged 79 after being rushed to hospital 


Star of the screen and stage Ruth Madoc, best known for appearing in BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!, has died at the age of 79. 

The actress became a household name playing chief yellowcoat Gladys Pugh in BBC One’s hugely successful TV series about a holiday camp set in the late Fifties. Her career also spanned an array of roles in theatre and musicals, from Fiddler On The Roof to Gypsy.

Madoc, whose husband was actor Philip Madoc, passed away yesterday following a fall which forced her to pull out of performing in pantomime Aladdin at the Princess Theatre in Torquay – a commitment which she would have started yesterday and finished on New Year’s Eve.

Just hours earlier, she told fans she was on the mend, saying: ‘Please don’t worry! I’m well and I’ll soon be back to normal, but unfortunately @princesstheatretorquay won’t get to have The Empress Gladys in the Panto this Christmas!!! I’m doing really well and will soon be back to normal!’

In a statement, Phil Belfield of talent agency Belfield & Ward Ltd, described Madoc as ‘one of a kind and a unique talent loved by many’.

Ruth Madoc played Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi! from 1980 to 1988

Ruth Madoc played Gladys Pugh in Hi-de-Hi! from 1980 to 1988

Hi-de-Hi! actress Ruth Madoc has died aged 79, her agent has confirmed in a statement

Hi-de-Hi! actress Ruth Madoc has died aged 79, her agent has confirmed in a statement 

Taking to Instagram on Friday, she wrote: 'Hiya everyone please don't worry!'

Taking to Instagram on Friday, she wrote: ‘Hiya everyone please don’t worry!’

He 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 9th December 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.

‘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! and more recently in Little Britain and on stage with Calendar Girls (the play and the musical), plus recent acclaim in short films Skinny Fat and Cardiff, 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.’

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.’ 

Broadcaster Gyles Brandreth has remembered ‘wonderfully gifted actress’ Madoc following news of her death.

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 – and a wonderfully gifted actress.

Madoc passed away yesterday following a fall which forced her to pull out of performing in pantomime Aladdin at the Princess Theatre in Torquay - a commitment which she would have started yesterday and finished on New Year's Eve

Madoc passed away yesterday following a fall which forced her to pull out of performing in pantomime Aladdin at the Princess Theatre in Torquay – a commitment which she would have started yesterday and finished on New Year’s Eve

British actress and singer Ruth Madoc

British actress and singer Ruth Madoc

British actress and singer Ruth Madoc

Ruth Madoc and Simon Cadell during filming of the BBC sitcom in the early 1980s

Ruth Madoc and Simon Cadell during filming of the BBC sitcom in the early 1980s

Ruth Madoc with her husband Philip and their children in 1980

Ruth Madoc with her husband Philip and their children in 1980

Ruth Madoc and David Griffin. Madoc has died after falling this week

Ruth Madoc and David Griffin. Madoc has died after falling this week

Tributes to Ruth Madoc, who died on Friday aged 79

Tributes to Ruth Madoc, who died on Friday aged 79

‘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!’

Cadell played holiday camp boss Jeffrey Fairbrother, the object of affections for Madoc’s character Glady Pugh.

Actor and writer Sir Tony Robinson, 76, 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.’

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.

Ruth Madoc with her son Rhys. The actress died after falling this week

Ruth Madoc with her son Rhys. The actress died after falling this week

Su Pollard and Ruth Madoc at The Royal Variety Performance in 1986

Su Pollard and Ruth Madoc at The Royal Variety Performance in 1986

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

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 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.



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