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Helen McCrory spoke about spending time with children in lockdown months before death aged 52

Helen McCrory spoke about painting with her daughter and listening to her son play guitar as the family spent lockdown together, just months before her tragic death.

The Peaky Blinders star, 52, passed away after a ‘heroic’ battle with cancer, her husband Damian Lewis, 50, announced on Friday night. 

During an appearance on the BBC‘s Coronavirus Newscast podcast last April, the mother-of-two shared candid details about how she was coping in the pandemic.

As well as soaking up the extra family time and binging TV shows, Helen admitted finding the pandemic ‘overwhelming’ at times and ‘suddenly bursting into tears’. 

Tragic: Helen McCrory spoke about painting with her daughter and listening to her son play guitar as she spent lockdown with her family, months before her death (pictured in 2019)

Tragic: Helen McCrory spoke about painting with her daughter and listening to her son play guitar as she spent lockdown with her family, months before her death (pictured in 2019)

Revealing details about the family’s time in lockdown, Helen said: ‘We’ve done quite a lot of painting with my daughter, we’ve done quite a lot of music. Damian plays guitar, Gully plays guitar. 

She then joked: ‘And if you’re still for too long I will bleach you.’

The couple, who married in 2007, share daughter Manon, 14, and son Gulliver, 13. 

And sharing more details during a Mr and Mrs style quiz, Damian cheekily joked that his wife was having a ‘TV screen affair with Steve Coogan’ after watching lots of Alan Partridge shows. 

Candid: Helen and her husband Damian Lewis spoke about their family life and admitted finding lockdown 'overwhelming' at times on the podcast last April (pictured on GMB in March)

Candid: Helen and her husband Damian Lewis spoke about their family life and admitted finding lockdown ‘overwhelming’ at times on the podcast last April (pictured on GMB in March)

While Helen chatted about a ‘weird meal’ they’d had the night before their April 2020 interview which involved ‘chicken in breadcrumbs, which made the smoke alarm go off, with soya and orange segments.’  

Helen also praised her husband as she revealed that he’s ‘not a slob’ in any way. She said: ‘He has many, many faults – many – but not slobby.

‘Damian’s idea of slobby is he got up at 8 o’clock and is showered and down and having his third cup of coffee. There’s not a slobby bit of him.’

The actress also got a laugh when she jokingly asked ‘how long have you got?’ when Damian had to think of what he does that annoys her, before admitting ‘not sharing’. 

Happy times: Helen had been married to fellow actor Damian since 2007 (the couple pictured in February last year)

Happy times: Helen had been married to fellow actor Damian since 2007 (the couple pictured in February last year) 

The couple had been on the podcast to talk about their work arranging meals for NHS staff who suddenly found themselves working long shifts with cafes shut. 

Discussing what she had been finding difficult amid the pandemic, Helen admitted: ‘We’re all doing our bit and not going out. 

‘But you feel responsible, you know you’re watching the news, we’re all reading it, we’re all finding out what’s happening over the world, and it’s so overwhelming…

‘It sort of seems, as Damian says, it’s fantastical. You think you’re absolutely fine, you’re pottering along, you’re coping with it. Cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking, cleaning, cooking. And you suddenly burst into tears. 

‘And it’s this fear, and it’s the vulnerability coming out, and then you pick yourself up and you go along again as if nothing happened. And it’s very surreal.’ 

Heartbroken: The Peaky Blinders star passed away after a 'heroic' battle with cancer, her husband Damian Lewis announced on Friday night

Heartbroken: The Peaky Blinders star passed away after a ‘heroic’ battle with cancer, her husband Damian Lewis announced on Friday night 

Helen had been working on Peaky Blinders, where she plays Polly Gray, when the country came to a standstill in March 2020. 

Reflecting everything stopping, Helen said: ‘We both stopped, I was about to start doing Peaky Blinders. We were doing costume and makeup fittings but we put a stop on it. Dam was in New York and was flown home.’

Damian then continued: ‘I was in the middle of fifth season Billions, we had filmed 7 out of the 12 episodes… I don’t think anyone will be going back to work in New York anytime soon.’

News of Helen’s death was announced by Damian on Friday, with him revealing she died ‘peacefully’ at home surrounded by friends and family.

Homeland star Damian tweeted: ‘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.

‘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.’ 

Star: Helen was best known for playing the matriarch Polly Gray in hit BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders

Star: Helen was best known for playing the matriarch Polly Gray in hit BBC crime drama Peaky Blinders

On screen: She is pictured second from the right alongside Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton and Helena Bonham Carter for Harry Potter

On screen: She is pictured second from the right alongside Jason Isaacs, Tom Felton and Helena Bonham Carter for Harry Potter

The actress and actor married in 2007 after falling in love when they were both cast in the play Five Gold Rings at the off-West End Almeida Theatre back in 2003. 

The couple were last seen during an appearance on Good Morning Britain last month. 

During the interview with Kate Garraway  – where she was speaking about her and Damian’s charity work – Helen appeared to have a croaky voice and looked pale. 

During the chat presenter Kate asked the Harry Potter star half-way through if she was okay, saying: ‘Are you alright, Helen?’  

She added: ‘You sound a bit croaky. Have you got a sore throat?’

The Peaky Blinders star replied with a brave smile, saying: ‘I’ve got children!’ to which Kate laughed and said ‘Oh you’ve been shouting at them!’

Helen then added: ‘And I’ve got no makeup artist and no hair dresser!’

The couple were on GMB to discuss their involvement with the Prince’s Trust which is a charity that helps vulnerable young people get their lives on track. 

Helen, who was awarded the OBE for services to drama in the 2017 New Years Honours, was best known for playing the matriarch Polly in Peaky Blinders and Narcissa Malfoy in the Harry Potter films.

Her other movie roles included playing MP Clair Dowar in Skyfall and Cherie Blair in The Queen and The Special Relationship.

On television, she appeared in Doctor Who, Inside No 9 and His Dark Materials, and last year appeared in the Hugh Laurie drama Roadkill on the BBC and ITV’s Quiz.

She also had an accomplished stage career, winning plaudits for National Theatre roles in productions of Medea and Terence Rattigan’s The Deep Blue Sea.

McCrory was also was nominated for an Olivier for her role as Rosalind in As You Like It in at London’s Wyndham’s theatre in 2006.

Her husband led tributes to the star along with JK Rowling, Michael Sheen, Taron Egerton, Cillian Murphy and Kate Beckinsale.

Worried: The couple were last seen on GMB last month and during the chat presenter Kate Garraway asked the star half-way through if she was okay, saying: 'Are you alright, Helen?'

Worried: The couple were last seen on GMB last month and during the chat presenter Kate Garraway asked the star half-way through if she was okay, saying: ‘Are you alright, Helen?’

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