A HEREFORDSHIRE theatre will be represented at the funeral of star of the screen and stage Ruth Madoc, best known for appearing in BBC sitcom Hi-de-Hi!.

The actress became a household name playing chief yellowcoat Gladys Pugh in BBC One's hugely successful TV series about a holiday camp in the late 1950s.

But she died on December 9 at the age of 79 after a fall, her agent said.

Bromyard's Conquest Theatre said it was deeply saddened to hear of the sudden death of its friend Ruth Madoc, who had been to the Tenbury Road venue to watch its production of Hi-De-Hi! in February.


Some members of the theatre, a registered charity which moved to Tenbury Road in 1991, will be at the star's funeral at St. David's Church in Neath, South Wales, on Monday (January 16).

After being invited to the theatre by Steve James, a former stalwart of the volunteer-run venue, Ruth Madoc agreed to become its patron ­– but died before the news could be announced.

File photo dated 12/3/1984 of (left to right) Su Pollard, Simon Cadell, Michael Knowles and Ruth Madoc, from the BBC 1 comedy Hi-de-Hi

File photo dated 12/3/1984 of (left to right) Su Pollard, Simon Cadell, Michael Knowles and Ruth Madoc, from the BBC 1 comedy Hi-de-Hi

Chairman Sarah Handley said: "From the outset she was warm and friendly and loved her visit to the theatre, doing a wonderful question and answer session for us, signing programmes, and having her photo taken with audience members.

"After the show, she met the cast and spent time taking to them about the production, offering congratulations, tips and advice. She was amazed at the facilities on offer at the Conquest and full of praise for our achievements.

"On the journey home she told Steve several times that the Conquest 'hadn't seen the last' of her."

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She added: "Ruth had agreed to become our patron and we planned to invite her to come over in the New Year to formalize her role. Sadly this is not to be.

"However, her legacy to us, apart from memories of a wonderful, warm lady, are some fabulous costumes which she insisted on giving to us and a beautiful piece of stained glass which was commissioned for her home and which we hope eventually to incorporate into our foyer.

"How fortunate we are to have been associated with Ruth. We have sent our condolences to her family.

"She will be sadly missed by so many in the theatre world, including all her friends from the Conquest."

Ruth Madoc's career also spanned an array of roles in theatre and musicals, from Fiddler On The Roof to Gypsy.

In a statement given to the PA news agency, Phil Belfield of talent agency Belfield & Ward, 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 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."


He added: "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!"

Ruth Madocs funeral is taking place in South Wales today (Monday)

Ruth Madoc's funeral is taking place in South Wales today (Monday)

Meanwhile broadcaster Gyles Brandreth has remembered Madoc for being a "wonderfully gifted actress."

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.

"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!"