Production on the sixth and final season of Peaky Blinders wrapped last month, just weeks after it was announced that Helen – who played Aunt Polly in the hit drama – had died aged 52.
Speaking to Today FM about filming without Helen, Cillian explained: “It’s desperately sad… for all of us and everyone that knew her and was close to her and all her fans.
“She was like the matriarch of Peaky Blinders, and I think my closest colleague on the show.”
Admitting that his scenes with Polly were “always my favourite”, he added: “She was without doubt one of the best actors I’ve ever had the pleasure of working with. But on top of that just an extraordinary human being.
“So it’s really really sad. And we’re all still dealing with it like everybody else, and we really miss her.”
When filming began on the new series in April, bosses shared a heartfelt tribute to Helen McCrory, with a clapperboard sporting her character’s face being used on set.
A picture of the board was posted on the show’s official Instagram account, with the caption: “Forever part of the Peaky Blinders family.”
Helen’s death was confirmed by her husband, actor Damien Lewis, who said she’d died after what he described as “a heroic battle with cancer”.
The Peaky Blinders team shared a full tribute at the time, with a show statement reading: “Helen’s performance as Polly Grey was inspirational, joyous, transgressive, hilarious and incredibly moving.
“As a person she was off-the-scale charismatic, and deeply caring. We feel so privileged to have worked with her over the last decade. All our thoughts and love are with Damian and family.”