Joanna Scanlan

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Joanna Scanlan
Born (1961-10-27) 27 October 1961 (age 53)
West Kirby, Wirral, England
Occupation Actress, lecturer
Years active 1997–present

Joanna Scanlan (born 27 October 1961 in West Kirby, Wirral[1]) is an English actress and television writer, best known for her roles in various British comedy series, such as The Thick of It,[2] Doctors and Nurses, Getting On, Little Britain, and as Catherine Dickens in the period drama The Invisible Woman.

Early life[edit]

The daughter of hoteliers, Scanlan moved with her parents to North East Wales aged 3 where they later bought the Ruthin Castle hotel.[3] She was educated in Denbigh, Wales, and then studied history at Cambridge University. Scanlan then joined the Cambridge Footlights, where she became friends with Tilda Swinton.

Early career[edit]

After graduation, Scanlan joined the academic staff of Leicester Polytechnic lecturing in drama for five years, before she undertook a similar role at the Arts Council of Great Britain for three years.[4]

After the Arts Council of Great Britain broke up in 1994, at age 34 Scanlan decided to try her hand at professional acting, quickly gaining the role as a nurse in ITV1's Peak Practice. This formed some what of a theme in her early career, then playing a midwife in The Other Boleyn Girl with Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, before playing a nurse again alongside Ade Edmondson's doctor in ill-fated Doctors and Nurses, and latterly Dr Diana Dibbs in Doc Martin with Martin Clunes.[5]

Getting On[edit]

Getting On is co-written by and stars Scanlan, Jo Brand and Vicki Pepperdine. Its first series received high praise from television critics across the board in the UK, with praise for the actors' performances, and for the realistic portrayal of an NHS hospital.[6][7]

All three writers were nominated for the 2009 Royal Television Society Award for Best Writing in Comedy.[8]

Both Scanlan and Brand were nominated for the 2010 BAFTA Television Award for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Role.[9]

Selected credits[edit]


Year Title Role
Jane Eyre Bessie
Spaced Tina
Coming Soon Cludia
The Thick of It Terri Coverley
Getting On Sister Den Flixter
Home Time Mrs Pitman
Doc Martin Dr Diana Dibbs
Stella Nancy
Heading Out Toria
Big School Mrs Janine Klebb
Death Comes To Pemberley Mrs Reynolds
Puppy Love Nana V
The Killings of Copenhagen Clara Trout
Rev. Jill Mallory
Mapp and Lucia Ursula 'Ursy' Pillson


Year Title Role
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring Tanneke
2005 A Little Trip to Heaven Josie
Kinky Boots Trish
2006 Notes on a Scandal Sue Hodge
2007 Stardust Mormo
Grow Your Own Barbara
2008 The Other Boleyn Girl Mary's midwife
2009 In the Loop Roz
2011 Hot Hot Hot Mary-Ann
2013 The Invisible Woman Catherine Dickens
2014 Get Santa
TBA Testament of Youth


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ BBC Comedy Blog: The Thick of It‍ '​s Joanna Scanlan on playing Terri
  3. ^ [2]
  4. ^ Veronica Lee (10 February 2013). "Joanna Scanlan: From bumbling Whitehall press officer in The Thick of It to lifestyle coach in Heading Out". The Independent. Retrieved 11 March 2013. 
  5. ^ [3]
  6. ^ "'Getting On' In The Press...". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  7. ^ Banks-Smith, Nancy (9 July 2009). "Last night's TV: Getting On, Taking the Flak". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 3 May 2010. 
  8. ^ "RTS Programme Awards 2009". Royal Television Society. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 
  9. ^ "Television Awards Winners in 2010". BAFTA. Retrieved 6 June 2010. 

External links[edit]