13 May 1958 |
Wolverhampton, West Midlands, England
Barber studied drama at Bangor University, in Wales where she was a contemporary of director Danny Boyle, who became her boyfriend. One of her closest friends is the actor Ian McKellen, who funded a library in her name in India. In 2006, she received an Honorary Fellowship from the University of Wolverhampton.
In 2013 Natalie McGarry, Scottish advocacy columnist and convenor for the Scottish National Party, stated on Newsnetscotland.com that she was involved in a social network Twitter correspondence with a 'Frances Barber' over the integrity of Scottish American actor Alan Cumming commenting on Scottish independence. McGarry said that this "baffling[...] interlude" descended to verbal insult by the 'Frances Barber' account. In August 2014, Barber was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue. In September 2014 she was seen referring to all pro-independence voters as "thugs" on the same account. 
With Pet Shop Boys, she appeared in their musical Closer to Heaven in 2001 as well as guest singer for the song "Friendly Fire" on their 2006 live concert at the Mermaid Theatre. She also appeared alongside Ian McKellen and Roger Allam in the Old Vic's pantomime production of Aladdin in the 2005–06 Christmas season. She again starred with Ian McKellen in 2007 playing Goneril in Trevor Nunn's production of King Lear and as Arkadina in Chekhov's The Seagull with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Stratford-upon-Avon followed by a world tour throughout the year. They again performed the two plays in repertory at the New London Theatre on Drury Lane, opening in November 2007 and closing mid-January 2008.
Barber played the part of the opera singer Nicole Burgess in The Death of the Self, a 1992 episode of Inspector Morse; guest starred in the spring 2007 season of the BBCs Hustle, and reprised her role as Goneril in the 2008 TV film of King Lear. In 2008, she appeared as Mrs Prentice in the BBC sitcom Beautiful People and Nancy in Casualty. In 2011, she guest-starred in the Doctor Who episodes A Good Man Goes to War and The Wedding of River Song as Madame Kovarian. Her character appeared in various cameos throughout the sixth series, featuring briefly in Day of the Moon, The Curse of the Black Spot, The Rebel Flesh, The Almost People, and Closing Time. She starred in the episode Polymorph in series 3 of the British sci-fi comedy show Red Dwarf. In 2012 Barber joined the cast of the BBC One drama, Silk.
- Ooh La La (Hull Truck Theatre, 1979)
- Riff Raff Rules (Theatre Royal Stratford East)
- Space Ache (Tricycle Theatre, Wakefield, 1980)
- Emilia in Othello (Oxford Playhouse)
- La Guerra (The Battle), Desperado Corner and Madame Louise (Glasgow Citizens', 1980, and Venice Biennale Festival, 1981)
- The Treat (Institute of Contemporary Arts)
- The Mission (Soho Poly)
- Hard Feelings (Oxford Playhouse and The Bush, 1983)
- Turning Over (The Bush, 1983)
- Marguerite in Camille (Royal Shakespeare Company, The Other Place, 1984, and Comedy Theatre, 1985 – Olivier nomination for Most Promising Newcomer)
- Ophelia in Hamlet (RSC Barbican Theatre, 1985)
- Love's Labour's Lost (RSC The Other Place, Comedy Theatre, 1985)
- The Dead Monkey (RSC The Pit, 1986))
- Summer and Smoke (Haymarket Theatre)
- Viola in Twelfth Night (Renaissance, Riverside Studios, 1987)
- Lady Macbeth in Macbeth (Royal Exchange, Manchester, 1988)
- My Heart's a Suitcase (Royal Court, 1990)
- Over a Barrel (Watford Palace Theatre)
- Imagine Drowning (Hampstead Theatre, 1991)
- Maxine Faulk in The Night of the Iguana (National Theatre, 1992)
- Eliza Doolittle in Pygmalion (National Theatre, 1992)
- Insignificance (Donmar Warehouse, 1995)
- Uncle Vanya (Minerva Theatre, Chichester and Albery Theatre, 1996 – TMA Award)
- Closer (Lyric Theatre, National Theatre West End transfer, 1998)
- Closer to Heaven (Arts Theatre,2001)
- Valerie in Tales from the Vienna Woods (National Theatre, 2003)
- Nurse Ratched in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (Gielgud Theatre, 2004)
- Dim Sum in Aladdin (Old Vic pantomime, 2005)
- The Narrator in Shane Cullinan's The Pieta St Paul's, Covent Garden, 2006)
- Cleopatra in Antony and Cleopatra (Shakespeare's Globe, London, 2006)
- Arkadina in The Seagull and Goneril in King Lear (RSC, Courtyard Theatre Stratford-upon-Avon, and New London Theatre, 2007)
- Madame de Sade (Donmar West End, Wyndham's Theatre, 2009)
- Afterplay (Edinburgh Festival, then Gate Theatre, Dublin, 2009)
- Julius Caesar (Donmar Theatre)(2012/2013)
- A Zed & Two Noughts (1985)
- Castaway (1986)
- Prick Up Your Ears (1987)
- Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987)
- Behaving Badly (1989) (TV)
- Red Dwarf – "Polymorph" (1989) (TV)
- Soft Top Hard Shoulder (1992)
- The Leaving of Liverpool (1992) (TV)
- Giorgino (1994)
- Space Precinct (1995) (TV)
- A Royal Scandal (1996) (TV)
- The Ice House (1997) (TV)
- Still Crazy (1998)
- Murder Most Horrid (1998)
- Bremner, Bird and Fortune (1999) (TV)
- Manchild (2002) (TV)
- Flyfishing (2002) (TV)
- My Family – "Owed to Susan" (as Vanessa, 2003) (TV)
- Boudica (2003)
- Monkey Dust (2003) (TV) (voice)
- Evilenko (2004)
- The IT Crowd – "Aunt Irma Visits" (2005) (TV)
- Agatha Christie's Marple – "A Murder is Announced" (as Hinch,2005) (TV)
- Funland (2005) (TV)
- Hustle (2007) (TV)
- King Lear (2008)
- Beautiful People (2008)
- The Fattest Man in Britain (2009)
- The Royal (2009)
- Midsomer Murders (2010) Episode: Master Class
- Doctor Who (seven episodes, 2011)
- Great Expectations (2011) (TV)
- Friday Night Dinner (2011)
- Silk (2012 - 2014)
- Vexed (2012)
- The Life of Rock with Brian Pern (2014)
- Mapp and Lucia (2014)
- Barnett, Laura (21 April 2009). "Portrait of the artist: Frances Barber, actor". The Guardian (London).
- Hardy, Rebecca (18 December 2009). "'I've had it with men!' Actress Frances Barber on having her heart broken six times". Daily Mail (London).
- "The year of my big break| Theatre". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
- "Actress Frances Barber receives honorary award". Wlv.ac.uk. 21 August 2006. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
- McGarry, Natalie; "Dr Who is Frances Barber?", newsnetscotland.com, NNS Media Limited, 7 May 2013. Retrieved 14 June 2014
- "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26.
- "Frances Barber "thugs" tweet". twitter.com. 2014-09-15. Retrieved 2014-09-15.
- British Theatre Guide – RSC Double Press. Britishtheatreguide.info. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- "The British Theatre Guide : Reviews – The Seagull (RSC at the New London Theatre)". Britishtheatreguide.info. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
- "The British Theatre Guide : Reviews – King Lear (RSC at the New London Theatre)". Britishtheatreguide.info. 12 January 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
- BBC One – Doctor Who, Series 6, A Good Man Goes to War. BBC. (23 August 2011). Retrieved 8 June 2012.
- John Thaxter (6 July 2006). "The Stage / Reviews / Antony and Cleopatra". The Stage. Retrieved 13 August 2009.