Harwich Museum

Goodbye Campers

Tributes have been paid to Hi-de-Hi! star Ruth Madoc, who has died age 79.

Her agent said she was “gone far too soon” after suffering a fall last week.

She died in hospital following surgery, he said.

Ms Madoc became a household name playing Chief Yellow Coat Gladys Pugh in the BBC One sitcom, which was filmed at the former Warners Holiday Camp in Dovercourt.

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

Phil Belfield, of talent agency Belfield and Ward, said Ms Madoc was “truly a national treasure” and had been looking forward to touring with The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel in January.

Tony Tarran, from Harwich Museum, created a Hi-de-Hi! exhibition featuring the iconic yellow coats.

Together with his wife, Joanne, he has collected the memorabilia over the past 15 years.

He paid tribute to the actress, who was a regular visitor to Dovercourt for filming.

Tony said: “Ruth had an extensive acting career but for many, and certainly local people, she will be fondly remembered for playing Gladys Pugh the chief yellowcoat and Radio Maplin’s announcer in all episodes of the BBC comedy Hi-de-Hi! which ran from 1980 to 1988.

“She was a regular visitor to Dovercourt during the run of the programme as the majority of location filming for the show was done at Warners Holiday Camp and around the town.

“As with other cast members she would be seen around the town and at the Cliff Hotel where the cast stayed for the two weeks each year whilst filming was undertaken for each series.

“In October 2009 we invited her and other cast members back to the town to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Hi-de-Hi! and was thrilled when she said yes.

She recalled with fondness her time in Dovercourt and had vivid memories of the great storm of 1987 when the Cliff Hotel ‘shook’ in the early hours of the morning.

“She was more than enthusiastic to join in with a sketch that was written for her and our stand in Jeffrey Fairbrother and even made an announcement using the prop glockenspiel.

“She will be remembered for giving us so much joy and laughter, a real comedy legend.”

Ms Madoc was born in1943 and brought up in Llansamlet near Swansea and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.

She is survived by her two children, Lowri and Rhys.


(c) Harwich Manningtree Standard