Alex Jennings

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Alex Jennings
Born (1957-05-10) 10 May 1957 (age 58)
Essex, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1978–present
Partner(s) Lesley Moors
Children 2

Alex Jennings (born 10 May 1957) is an English actor, who has worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. A three-time Olivier Award winner, he won for Too Clever by Half (1988), Peer Gynt (1996) and My Fair Lady (2003). Known for his versatility, he is the only performer to have won Olivier awards in the drama, musical and comedy categories.[1][2][3] He played Prince Charles in the 2006 film The Queen. His other film appearances include The Wings of the Dove (1997), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Babel (2006) and The Lady in the Van (2015).

Early life[edit]

Jennings was born in Essex, the son of Peggy Patricia (née Mahoney) and Michael Thomas Jennings. He attended Abbs Cross Technical High School in Hornchurch and then studied English and Theatre studies at the University of Warwick, graduating in 1978. He said he saw his first theatre when he was in high school and went to the Old Vic Theatre, which led him to be inspired to be an actor.[4]

He trained as an actor for two years at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.[5]



Jennings began his career in regional repertory theatre, in 1985 playing a range of roles including Maximilien Robespierre in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Jennings met director Nicholas Hytner during this production and has worked with him many times since.[1]

For his performance as Gloumov in Too Clever by Half at the Old Vic, he won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1988. He was nominated in the same category the following year for portraying Dorante in The Liar.

He has performed for the Royal National Theatre in a number of plays, including Leontes in The Winter's Tale and the title role in Albert Speer.

His Royal Shakespeare Company roles include the title role in Peer Gynt (for which he won an Olivier Award 1995-06 for Best Actor), the title role in Richard II (opposite Anton Lesser as Henry Bolingbroke), Theseus/Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (UK, American tour and Broadway),[6] Angelo in Measure for Measure, and the title role in Hamlet. I[7]

n 2002, he appeared in the Cameron Mackintosh/Trevor Nunn revival of My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and won an Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical. He was an Associate Artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company.[6]

In 2007, he played the role of Garry Essendine in Noël Coward's Present Laughter at the NT.[1]

In 2011, he played Mikhail Bulgakov in the National Theatre's production of Collaborators.

In 2014, he played the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical, which was directed by Sam Mendes and was performed on London's West End theatre district.[2][8] He took over the role from Douglas Hodge in 2014.[5]


Jennings' work in film includes a portrayal opposite Helen Mirren as Charles, Prince of Wales in the Stephen Frears directed film, The Queen.[1]

He also appeared in War Requiem, the RSC's film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, Lord Mark in the Oscar-nominated movie The Wings of the Dove, Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, and The Four Feathers.

Jennings portrays playwright Alan Bennett in the 2015 film The Lady in the Van opposite Academy Award winner Maggie Smith in the title role.[9] The film is directed by Nicolas Hytner, who is a long-time collaborator from the theatre.[1]


Jennings' work in television includes appearances in The State Within, Smiley's People, The Franchise Affair, Inspector Morse, Lewis, Alfonso Bonzo, the title role in Ashenden, Dead Poets Society, Inspector Alleyn, Hard Times, Bad Blood, and Peter Ackroyd's London. His many radio credits include Casino Royale, The Way of the World, Strange Meeting, Vorbis in Small Gods, and The Old Curiosity Shop. He has also recorded the audio versions of the books The Horse and His Boy, Out of the Silent Planet, and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which was selected in June 2008 as one of the top forty audiobooks of all time. He is also a regular narrator on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime.

In 2007, he portrayed the Rev Hutton in the BBC series Cranford. He also played John Le Mesurier in the one-off BBC drama Hancock and Joan.

In 2009, he appeared in The Habit of Art as Benjamin Britten.

In 2010, he played Captain Shipshape in the CBeebies second series of Grandpa In My Pocket, and starred in the film Belle. After that, he played Henry Tizard in Castles in the Sky.

From 2011 to 2014, Jennings played Alan Cowdrey QC in the BBC One legal drama Silk.

Other work[edit]

In June 2008, he made his operatic debut at the ENO in Robert Carsen's production of Bernstein's Candide, in which he played Voltaire and Doctor Pangloss.

In 2006, he recorded an abridgement of A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon.


Jennings has won three Olivier Awards:[2]



Theatre (filmed)[edit]

  • 1999: Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat as Butler
  • 2010: National Theatre Live: The Habit of Art as Henry / Benjamin Britten
  • 2011: National Theatre Live: Collaborators as Mikhail Bulgakov
  • 2013: National Theatre Live: 50 Years on Stage as Henry Higgins


  • 1989: War Requiem as Blinded Soldier
  • 1996: A Midsummer Night's Dream as Theseus / Oberon
  • 1997: The Wings of the Dove as Lord Mark
  • 2002: The Four Feathers as Colonel Hamilton
  • 2004: Five Children and It as Father
  • 2004: Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason as Horatio
  • 2006: Babel as Ken Clifford
  • 2006: The Queen as Prince Charles
  • 2008: The Disappeared as Adrian Ballan
  • 2010: Words of the Blitz as George Orwell
  • 2013: Trap for Cinderella as Chance
  • 2013: Belle as Lord Ashford
  • 2014: Castles in the Sky as Henry Tizard
  • 2015: The Lady in the Van as Alan Bennett

Mini-series & TV movies[edit]

  • 1982: Smiley's People (TV Mini-Series) as P.C. Hall (1 episode: "Episode #1.1")
  • 1991: Ashenden (TV Mini-Series) as John Ashenden (4 episodes)
  • 1991: Bye Bye Columbus (TV Movie) as King Ferdinand
  • 1994: Hard Times (TV Mini-Series) as Bitzer (1 episode: "Episode #1.1")
  • 1997: Liberty! The American Revolution (TV Mini-Series) as King George III (6 episodes)
  • 1999: The Hunley (TV Movie) as Lt. Alexander
  • 2001: Bad Blood (TV Movie) as Joe Harker
  • 2002: Great Britons (TV Mini-Series documentary) as Churchill (voice) (1 episode: "Sir Winston Churchill")
  • 2004: London (TV Movie) as Stephen Spender
  • 2005: A Very Social Secretary (TV Movie) as Alastair Campbell
  • 2005: Riot at the Rite (TV Movie) as Sergei Diaghilev
  • 2008: Fairy Tales (TV Mini-Series) as Roger Bateman (1 episode: "Rapunzel")
  • 2008: Hancock & Joan (TV Movie) as John Le Mesurier
  • 2008: The 39 Steps (TV Movie) as Captain Kell
  • 2009: The Last Days of Lehman Brothers (TV Movie) as Timothy 'Tim' Geithner
  • 2010: On Expenses (TV Movie) as Andrew Walker
  • 2012: We'll Take Manhattan (TV Movie) as John Parsons
  • 2013: The Lady Vanishes (TV Movie) as The Professor
  • 2015: Churchill's Secret (TV Movie) as Anthony Eden


  • 1986: Kit Curran as PC Woods (1 episode: "A Sick Society"
  • 1988: The Franchise Affair as Nevil Bennet (6 episodes)
  • 1989: The Return of Shelley as Jeremy (1 episode: "The Gospel According to Shelley"
  • 1990: Inspector Morse as Victor Preece (1 episode: "The Sins of the Fathers"
  • 1990: Alfonso Bonzo as Alfonso Bonzo (6 episodes)
  • 1992: Screenplay as Byron (1 episode: "Dread Poets' Society"
  • 1993: Alleyn Mysteries as Sebastian Parish (1 episode: "Death at the Bar")
  • 2000: Too Much Sun as Julian Edgbaston-Bowles (6 episodes)
  • 2005: Agatha Christie's Poirot as Dr Roberts (1 episode: "Cards on the Table"
  • 2006: MI-5 as James Allan (1 episode: "Episode #5.4")
  • 2006: The State Within as James Sinclair (6 episodes)
  • 2007: Waking the Dead as James Andrews (2 episodes)
  • 2008: 10 Days to War as Vincent (1 episode: "Failure Is Not an Option")
  • 2009: Agatha Christie's Marpleas Inspector Curry (1 episode: "They Do It with Mirrors")
  • 2007-2009: Cranford as Reverend Hutton / The Rev Hutton (7 episodes)
  • 2010: Masterpiece Classic as Captain Kell (1 episode: "The 39 Steps")
  • 2010: Grandpa in My Pocket as Captain Shipshape (1 episode: "Captain Shipshape and a Fish Called Bryan")
  • 2009-2010: Whitechapel as Commander Anderson (5 episodes)
  • 2012: Being Human as Griffin (1 episode: "Eve of the War")
  • 2012: Inspector Lewis as Rev Conor Hawes (1 episode: "The Soul of Genius")
  • 2012: New Tricks as Professor Blake (1 episode: "Body of Evidence")
  • 2011-2014: Silk as Alan Cowdrey, QC (13 episodes)
  • 2015: Foyle's War as Clive Ord-Smith (1 episode: "Trespass")

Personal life[edit]

Jennings has two children with Lesley Moors, his long-term partner.


  1. ^ a b c d e Costa, Maddy (19 September 2007). "'I wanted to be Fred Astaire'". The Guardian. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  2. ^ a b c "Alex Jennings takes on Willy Wonka role". BBC News. 7 February 2014. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  3. ^ Shenton, Mark (7 February 2014). "Bold casting choices and versatile actors". The Stage. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Rosenthal, Daniel (2 October 2013). "National Histories: Nancy Carroll and Alex Jennings". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  5. ^ a b Evans, Lloyd (21 June 2014). "Alex Jennings interview: the new Willy Wonka on Roald Dahl’s ‘child killer’". The Spectator. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  6. ^ a b "Who's Who in the Cast: Who's Who - Alex Jennings; A Midsummer Night's Dream - Opening Night: March 31, 1996". Playbill. 31 March 1996. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  7. ^ Jennings, Alex (22 October 2011). "5 days in the life of ... Alex Jennings". The Independent. Retrieved 1 November 2015. 
  8. ^ Mitford, Oliver (17 February 2014). "Alex Jennings to take over from Douglas Hodge as Willy Wonka". Best of Theatre. Retrieved 17 February 2014. 
  9. ^ Telegraph Film (27 May 2015). "The Lady in the Van: Maggie Smith as you've never seen her". The Telegraph. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 
  10. ^ "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 31 October 2015. 

External links[edit]