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Margolyes, Miriam (1941-)


Main image of Margolyes, Miriam (1941-)

She appeared in the Cambridge Footlights with John Cleese and Graham Chapman in 1962, was taught English by F.R. Leavis, is famously vulgar and outspoken, considers herself one of Britain's best character actresses, and describes herself as "short, fat and curly". Miriam Margolyes has enjoyed over 30 years of success as a comedy actress and voice artist, winning numerous awards, including an Oscar nomination and BAFTA award for her vast Mrs Mingott in The Age of Innocence (US, 1993), a Los Angeles Critics Circle award for her Flora Finching in Little Dorrit (d. Christine Edzard, 1987), memorably falling completely head over heels backwards from a sofa, and an Olivier award for her acclaimed solo theatre show Dickens' Women.

She was born into a Jewish family in Oxford on 18 May 1941, but studied at Newnham College, Cambridge. She didn't go to drama school, but auditioned for the BBC drama department and began her career in radio roles. She now has one of the most famous voices in radio and television, having performed countless voiceovers for commercials. Most of her work has been on screen, beginning with 'Enter Solly Gold' (Theatre 625, BBC, tx. 17/10/1965). Ten years later she had her first real success as one of The Girls of Slender Means (BBC, tx. 3/5/1975), in an adaptation of Muriel Spark's novel.

Although her work can range from children's shows to the classics, via the melodrama of The Life and Loves of a She-Devil (BBC, 1986) and The History Man (BBC, 1981), she is most famous for comedy, appearing in several series of Blackadder (BBC, 1983-89), most notably as the Spanish Infanta; in quasi-alternative comedy sketch show A Kick Up the Eighties (BBC, 1981-84); and as a comic nurse in William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (US/Canada, 1996). Popular with her peers, she is perhaps even more famous in America, where she has made nearly all of her films and appears regularly on talk shows. She was awarded an an OBE in 2002.

Janet Moat

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Thumbnail image of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002)

Second outing for the fantastically popular boy wizard

Thumbnail image of Little Dorrit (1987)Little Dorrit (1987)

Ambitious two-film adaptation of one of Dickens' greatest works

Thumbnail image of Scrubbers (1982)Scrubbers (1982)

A female answer to Scum (by the same author), set in a women's borstal

Thumbnail image of Blackadder (1983-89)Blackadder (1983-89)

Much-loved historical sitcom starring Rowan Atkinson

Thumbnail image of Glittering Prizes, The (1976)Glittering Prizes, The (1976)

Acclaimed serial charting the lives of a group of Cambridge friends

Thumbnail image of History Man, The (1981)History Man, The (1981)

Antony Sher excels as a radical but egotistical Sociology lecturer

Thumbnail image of Kick Up the Eighties, A (1981, 1984)Kick Up the Eighties, A (1981, 1984)

Satirical sketch show introducing Rik Mayall's Kevin Turvey

Thumbnail image of Kizzy (1976)Kizzy (1976)

Children's adaptation of Rumer Godden's story of a young gypsy girl

Thumbnail image of Life and Loves of a She-Devil, The (1986)Life and Loves of a She-Devil, The (1986)

Witty supernatural feminist revenge thriller by Fay Weldon

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