Welsh actor Taron Egerton and Bridgerton star Jonathan Bailey have reminisced about sharing the stage with the late Helen McCrory.

McCrory, who played Shelby family matriarch Polly Gray in hit BBC One show Peaky Blinders, died from cancer aged 52 last April.

The final series of the show, which follows a crime gang in post-war Birmingham, launches on Sunday.

Co-host of The One Show Alex Jones said that reviews have called it a “heartbreaking tribute” to McCrory.

Appearing on the show, Rocketman star Egerton, 32, said: “I did my first job with Helen at the National Theatre when I was 22.

“She was fiercely talented, awe-inspiringly talented, but kind, fun, funny, warm and incredibly generous.

“I remember sharing scenes with her and just feeling like I was getting better through working with her.

“She was a really generous actor and a lovely person and a real loss to our industry.”

Born in Merseyside, Taron Egerton grew up first in Ynys Mon and then in Aberystwyth. 

The actor, who has played Elton John, Eddie the Eagle and Gary "Eggsy" Unwin in the Kingsman​ films, is fluent in Welsh.

Helen McCrory had starred in every series of Peaky Blinders since it began in 2013, and was also known for appearing in the Harry Potter films and the 2012 James Bond movie Skyfall.

She was born in London to a Welsh mother and Scottish-born father and had relatives who still live in Wales.

Bailey, 33, who plays Anthony Bridgerton in the hit Netflix series, added: “I worked with Helen when I was really young, I was seven, and I remember then what we all remember now which is her voice in the theatre.

“If anyone was lucky enough to see her on stage, she was like an animal.

“She always had a naughty twinkle in her eye, and I know a lot of people who were very close to her and I think it is a real loss, what an amazing woman.”

It was announced last year that the sixth and final series of Peaky Blinders, which airs on BBC One on Sunday, would be its last following McCrory’s unexpected death.

Peaky Blinders is also being adapted into a film – with production starting once the final series has aired – as well as a dance show, it was previously announced.

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