'Downton Abbey' actor Peter Egan says his 'heart is broken' after wife dies of cancer

Julia Hunt
·3-min read
LONDON, ENGLAND - APRIL 13:  British actor Peter Joseph Egan seen talking during the The 5th Global No Market No Trade March against extinction and trophy hunting for Elephants, Rhinos, Lions and other endangered species outside Downing Street on April 13, 2019 in London, England.  (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)
Peter Egan during the 5th Global No Market No Trade march against trophy hunting (Getty Images)

Downton Abbey star Peter Egan has said his heart is broken after the death of his “wonderful wife”.

The actor, 74, posted a message on social media saying that Myra Frances, his wife of almost 50 years, had passed away after a battle with cancer.

“This is the saddest post I will ever have to make,” Egan wrote on Twitter.

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“My wonderful wife Myra, my friend & soulmate lost her battle with cancer at 1.30am on Tuesday. This message is for all her followers on her FB & Twitter @EganMyra.

"She was the most amazing human being. My heart is broken.”

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Egan also shared a video in which he said he was “absolutely devastated”.

“This is probably the hardest video I will ever have to make," said the Unforgotten star.

“I've been absent from social media quite a lot recently and people are asking why, and so indeed has my wonderful wife of 49 years, Myra, who like me has been a very active campaigner for a long time for all the animals in the world that we care about.

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"I'm finding it very difficult to say that my wonderful wife died of cancer in the early hours of Tuesday morning at 1.30am.

"I'm absolutely devastated. It's very hard to think straight at the moment but I wanted to share this message with all of her followers and all of my followers just to say that I will be taking a break from social media for a little while as I get myself to together and while I arrange things for my wonderful wife Myra.

"She was the most amazing woman I have ever met. I miss her desperately.”

Downton Abbey actor, Peter Egan attends the unveiling of 21 bronze life-sized elephants sculptured by artists, Gillie and Marc at Marble Arch in London. The sculptures are to hight the plight of the species which faces extinction by 2040. The herd of elephants will be on display for one year, until 4 December 2020. (Photo by Steve Taylor / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Peter Egan attends the unveiling of 21 bronze life-sized elephants in London. (SOPA Images/Sipa USA)

Egan said he would carry on campaigning because his wife would have wanted that, saying that she was the person “who taught me to be human, to be compassionate, to be kind and to be empathetic”.

The couple tied the knot in 1972 and have a daughter together. Frances was also an actor and played Lady Adrasta in Doctor Who in 1979.

Egan is known for playing Hugh "Shrimpie" MacClare in Downton Abbey and the father of DCI Cassie Stuart in Unforgotten, and also starred in the sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles.

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Good Morning Britain star Susanna Reid was among those to send condolences on Twitter, writing: “This pain is unimaginable. My love to you. #BeKind.”

“My dear Peter,” wrote comedian Sanjeev Bhaskar. “Words are so inadequate. I believe a person’s worth is best measured by the love they gave out and the love they received. And in that it strikes me that Myra and yourself were truly blessed.”

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