Ruth Madoc - star of 80s sitcom Hi-de-Hi! - has died aged 79, after a fall. The actress, best known for her portrayal of Gladys Pugh in the holiday camp comedy, had been due to star in Aladdin at the Princess Theatre, Torquay, but withdrew from the show after the accident.
Her death was confirmed by Phil Belfield, of talent agency Belfield & Ward Ltd, who described her as ‘one of a kind’. "It is with much sadness that we have to announce the death of our dear and much loved client Ruth Madoc," he said.
"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. 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."
Only yesterday, Ruth posted a statement from the Princess Theatre in Torquay to her Instagram page which read: “Following an accident earlier this week, and 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. Everyone at the theatre wishes Ruth a speedy recovery. Further announcements regarding casting will take place in due course.”
The much-loved star had captioned the post saying: “Hiya everyone 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!”
Following the news of her passing, Tony Robinson, the actor famed for his role as Baldrick in the Blackadder series, led tributes to the Norwich-born star, who was brought up in Wales. “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,” he said.
Hi-de-Hi!, set in 1959 and 1960 in the fictional holiday camp Maplins, ran for nine series between 1980 to 1988. Gladys, played by Ruth, was the chief yellowcoat who became synonymous with the show’s eponymous catchphrase.
She was set to play the empress in Aladdin, starring alongside EastEnders actor Ricky Norwood and X Factor star Jay Edwards.
After training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA), she hit the big time in 1971 after starring as Fruma Sarah in the musical Fiddler On The Roof. She was known to younger audiences in recent years after taking the role of Daffyd Thomas’ mother in BBC comedy series, Little Britain.
She married twice, first to actor Philip Madoc, with whom she had her two children. Married for 20 years, they divorced in 1981. Her second husband, John Jackson, died last year. Madoc is survived by her daughter Lowri and son Rhys.