British actress Gwyneth Powell, best known for her role on children’s BBC classic Grange Hill, has passed away at the age of 76.

Powell sadly died as a result of complications which arose in surgery during a major operation.

To children of the 80s, Powell will always be synonymous with Mrs Bridget McCluskey, the stern headmistress of Grange Hill Comprehensive in the groundbreaking children’s drama series.

Powell joined Grange Hill in 1981, and continued to play Mrs McCluskey until 1991, appearing in a total of 169 episodes.

Appropriately enough, Manchester-born Powell had originally trained as a teacher herself before she made a move into acting in her 20s, working first in theatre before breaking into TV with roles in The Guardians and Z Cars in the early 1970s.

Post-Grange Hill, Powell went on to make appearances on such shows as Holby City, A Touch of Frost and Heartbeat. In more recent years, her most prominent role was on sitcom Man Down, alongside Greg Davies and Rik Mayall.

According to a statement issued by Powell’s representatives, the actress “passed away peacefully, with her husband [actor Alan Leith] and niece at her bedside. Gwyneth will be greatly missed by her adoring family and friends along with her many fans from multiple TV appearances.”

BBC Children’s and Education director Patricia Hidalgo leads tributes to Powell, stating “We are very sorry to hear of the passing of Gwyneth Powell.

Her famous portrayal of Mrs McClusky is one that will be fondly remembered by all those that grew up watching Grange Hill. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this sad time.”