Gwyneth Powell

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Gwyneth Powell
Born(1946-07-05)5 July 1946
Levenshulme, Manchester, England
Died8 September 2022(2022-09-08) (aged 76)
Brighton, East Sussex, England
EducationGoldsmiths, University of London
Years active1969–2022
TelevisionGrange Hill
Alan Leith
(m. 1971)

Gwyneth Powell (5 July 1946 – 8 September 2022) was an English actress. She was best known for her portrayal of headmistress Bridget McClusky in the BBC television series Grange Hill for eleven series between 1981 and 1991.


Powell was born on 5 July 1946[1] in Levenshulme, Manchester, and attended Cheadle County Grammar School for Girls, during which time she appeared to some acclaim as Fat Urs in the National Youth Theatre's production of Ben Jonson's Bartholemew Fair.[2] She originally trained as a teacher at Goldsmiths, University of London, but instead chose to act in repertory theatre.[3]


Powell's first major television role was in the 1971 LWT dystopian drama series, The Guardians.[1] She was a regular, if minor, player in many television dramas until being cast in Grange Hill, in which she played the "firm but fair"[3] headmistress Bridget ("The Midget") McClusky for eleven years. Of her role, she said in 2008:

At first Mrs McClusky was written as a 'twin set and pearls' role but I was quite young at the time and didn't want to play it like that. We started with the clothes and she was quite fashion conscious and chic. I was told by lots of people she was a great fillip to young women teachers who started applying for headships. The show had repercussions in all kinds of ways and the character did too. My period did coincide with the Thatcher years. I think Mrs McClusky became memorable because we had a prime minister like that.[4]

Eventually, however, Powell wanted to pursue other interests and gave the Grange Hill producers and writers a year to write McClusky out of the series.[3] She bought the rights to E. M. Delafield's Diary of a Provincial Lady and adapted it as a self-financed one-woman show in Edinburgh, also touring the production.[3]

Since then, Powell appeared in other television programmes such as Heartbeat, A Touch of Frost, Holby City, Hetty Wainthropp Investigates and Father Brown, and in 2008, Echo Beach.[5] She played the role of a school teacher in a Victorian School Day in an episode of the BBC Schools TV series Watch.[6][7] In 2009, using archive footage, coupled with some newly recorded lines, Powell reprised her Grange Hill role as Mrs McClusky for a cameo appearance in an episode of Ashes to Ashes, set in 1982.[8] She also appeared in Arsenic and Old Lace at the Salisbury Playhouse.[9] In 2010, Powell starred as Nana in The Gemma Factor. Subsequently, in 2011–2013, she became a support character in the teen programme House of Anubis, playing the role of Nina Martin's gran who ends up in hospital but is later released. She featured in seven episodes.[10] In 2013 she took the role of Greg Davies' mother Polly Davies in the Channel 4 comedy Man Down.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Powell married actor Alan Leith in 1971.[9] She lived in Hurstpierpoint, West Sussex, where she was a patron of a local drama group, the Hurstpierpoint Players.[12]

She died in Brighton on 8 September 2022 at age 76. Her death was attributed to complications following surgery for a perforated colon.[13][1]


Year Show Role Notes Ref.
1969 Rogues' Gallery Second Lady 1 episode [14][15][16]
1971 The Guardians Clare Weston 11 episodes
1972 Villains Belinda 2 episodes
1972 Z Cars Jean Knight 1 episode
1972 Rest assured: Lift Off Mrs Johnson TV film
1973 Putting on the Agony Gill TV film
1973 ITV Sunday Knight Theatre Willy
1974 A Raging Calm Agnes Sutton TV mini series, 4 episodes
1974 Father Brown Helen Smaill 1 episode
1975 Play for Today Elvira Lewis 1 episode
1975 Public Eye Clare 1 episode
1975 Beryl's Lot Anita 2 episodes
1976 Couples Lynn Baker TV series, 6 episodes
1972–1976 Dixon of Dock Green Val Colebrook (1972), Mrs Regan (1972), Anne Hastings (1973), Diane Barnet (1979), Jane Mason (1976) TV series, 5 episodes
1976 Face of Darkness Eileen
1976 Coronation Street Diana Kenton 3 episodes
1976 Emmerdale Julie Croft Guest role
1978 ITV Playhouse Doreen 1 episode
1978 People Like Us Frances Hopkins 5 episodes
1978 Accident Betty Richards 3 episodes
1978–1980 Armchair Thriller Woman PC (1978),Doris (1980) 6 episodes
1980 The Enigma Files Anne Gerrard 1 episode
1980 Can We Get on Now, Please? 1 episode
1978 Loophole Doreen
1982 Squadron Margaret Gran 4 episodes
1982, 1984 The Gentle Touch DI Mary Woods 2 episodes
1986 Chance in a Million Maureen 1 episode
1980–1991 Grange Hill Mrs McClusky 169 episodes
1994 Open Fire Gloria Martin TV film
1996 Hetty Wainthropp Investigates Marian Horner 1 episode
1997 A Touch of Frost Kitty Rayford 3 episodes
1998 Magic with Everything Aunt Matilda TV Series
1998, 2002 Peak Practice Annie Gibson (1998), Rose Meredith (2002) 2 episodes
1999 A Kind of Hush Mrs P.
2001, 2006 Holby City Jean (2001), Margaret Tanner (2006) 2 episodes
2001 Back to the Secret Garden Toby the Maid Film
2003 Family Affairs Judge Yardley 1 episode
2003, 2006 Doctors Janet Armstrong (2003), Janice Wilson (2006) Guest roles
2004 Down to Earth Mrs Dean 1 episode
2004, 2009 Heartbeat Shirley Baxter (2004), Margaret Millwood (2009) 2 episodes
2004 The Royal Bunty Weatherill 1 episode
2005 Emmerdale Sophie Kidderminster Guest role
2007 Piccadilly Cowboy Alice
2008 Echo Beach Ivy Trehearne 11 episodes
2009 Ashes to Ashes Mrs McClusky 1 episode, archive footage with newly recorded audio from Powell.
2010 The Gemma Factor Nana 6 episodes
2011 Little Crackers Headmistress 1 episode
2012 House of Anubis Nina's Grandmother 7 episodes
2013 The Matt Lucas Awards Herself 1 episode
2013 A Touch of Cloth Mrs McClusky 1 episode
2013–2017 Man Down Polly Davies[17] 19 episodes
2014 Casualty Gloria Pots 1 episode
2022 Not Going Out Nice lady 1 episode [18]


  1. ^ a b c "Grange Hill actress Gwyneth Powell dies aged 76". The Press. Press Association. 12 September 2022. Retrieved 12 September 2022.
  2. ^ Sansome, Jessica (12 September 2022). "Grange Hill actress Gwyneth Powell dies aged 76 after surgery complications". Manchester Evening News. Retrieved 13 September 2022.
  3. ^ a b c d "BBC Beds Herts and Bucks – Entertainment – School's out for Gwyneth!". BBC. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  4. ^ "Mrs McClusky remembers her school". BBC News. 6 February 2008. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  5. ^ "Grange Hill star Gwyneth Powell, who played headmistress Mrs McClusky, dies after surgery complications". Sky News.
  6. ^ Media, P. A. (12 September 2022). "Gwyneth Powell, actor who played Grange Hill's headteacher, dies aged 76". the Guardian.
  7. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (12 September 2022). "Grange Hill actress Gwyneth Powell dies aged 76".
  8. ^ "Ashes Resurrects Grange Hill – Sky TV". Sky UK. Archived from the original on 27 October 2009. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  9. ^ a b "Why comedy is simply the best form of theatre". Salisbury Journal. Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  10. ^ Fear, Helen (12 September 2022). "Grange Hill legend Gwyneth Powell - known for her role as Mrs McClusky - has died at the age of 76". Entertainment Daily.
  11. ^ "Man Down - Interview with Gwyneth Powell | Channel 4".
  12. ^ "Hurstpierpoint Players". Retrieved 10 December 2009.
  13. ^ "Grange Hill's Mrs McClusky actress Gwyneth Powell dies aged 76". BBC News. 12 September 2022.
  14. ^ "Gwyneth Powell".
  15. ^ "Gwyneth Powell : Actress - Films, episodes and roles on".
  16. ^ "Gwyneth Powell: Movies, TV, and Bio".
  17. ^ "Man Down – Production Details". British Comedy Guide. 23 August 2013. Retrieved 2 October 2013.
  18. ^ "Not Going Out".

External links[edit]