Peaky Blinders and Harry Potter star Helen McCrory dies of cancer

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Actress Helen McCrory, best known for starring in Peaky Blinders and the Harry Potter films, has died after a "heroic battle with cancer", her husband Damian Lewis has said.

The actress, who also appeared in the James Bond film Skyfall and was seen on screen in the TV series Quiz and Roadkill last year, was 52.

"I'm heartbroken to announce that after an 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," Lewis posted in a statement on Twitter.

Damian Lewis and Helen McCrory

Image: Damian Lewis has paid tribute to his 'beautiful and mighty' wife

"She died as she lived. Fearlessly. God we love her and know how lucky we are to have had her in our lives. She blazed so brightly. Go now, Little One, into the air, and thank you."

McCrory was a versatile actress with a career on stage and screen spanning almost 30 years. But it was Peaky Blinders' crime family matriarch Polly she was best known for playing, appearing in the show from 2013 to 2019.

The eldest of three children, she was born in Paddington, west London, to a Welsh mother and Scottish-born father. She attended school in Hertfordshire, then spent a year living in Italy, before returning to London to study acting at the Drama Centre.

McCrory and Lewis married in 2007 and the couple had two children - daughter Manon, born in 2006, and son Gulliver, born in 2007.

Stars have been paying tribute on social media, with actor Jim Howick, who worked with both McCrory and Lewis on the 2015 comedy film Bill, tweeting: "This is so shocking and sad. Helen along with Damien were both terrific fun on Bill.

"She was so generous with her time and her performance. I urge everyone to listen to her Desert Island Disks. What a talent we have lost."

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