Alex Kingston

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Alex Kingston
Kingston at the 2019 GalaxyCon Minneapolis
Alexandra Elizabeth Kingston

(1963-03-11) 11 March 1963 (age 60)
Epsom, Surrey, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1980–present
  • (m. 1993; div. 1997)
  • Florian Haertel
    (m. 1998; div. 2013)
  • Jonathan Stamp
    (m. 2015)
RelativesWalter Renneisen (maternal uncle)

Alexandra Elizabeth Kingston (born 11 March 1963)[1] is an English actress. Active from the early 1980s, Kingston became noted for her television work in both Britain and the US in the 1990s, including her regular role as Dr. Elizabeth Corday in the NBC medical drama ER (1997–2004) and her title role in the ITV miniseries The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (1996), which earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Actress.

Kingston's later credits include the recurring role of River Song in the BBC science fiction series Doctor Who (2008–2015), Mrs. Bennet in the ITV period-drama fantasy Lost in Austen (2008), Dinah Lance in The CW's superhero fiction drama series Arrow (2013–2016), and Sarah Bishop in A Discovery of Witches (2018–2022).

Early life[edit]

Kingston was born and brought up in Epsom, Surrey, to Anthony Kingston, an English butcher and his German wife, Margarethe (née Renneisen).[2][3] Kingston's paternal great-great-grandmother was Jewish, an ancestry Kingston explored on the series Who Do You Think You Are?[4][5] Kingston's uncle, her mother's younger brother, is actor Walter Renneisen.[6] Her younger sisters are Susie, who is mentally and physically disabled as a result of being deprived of oxygen at birth, and Nicola, a former actress who appeared in the 1996 British TV production of The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, in which Kingston starred.

Kingston was inspired to pursue acting by one of her teachers at Rosebery School for Girls. Kingston auditioned and performed in the Surrey County Youth Theatre production of Tom Jones as Mrs Fitzpatrick, alongside Sean Pertwee as Captain Fitzpatrick and Thwackum played by Tom Davison. She later completed a three-year programme at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and went on to join the Royal Shakespeare Company.


1980–2007: Early career and breakthrough with ER[edit]

In 1980, Kingston made her television debut in three episodes of the children's soap opera Grange Hill, while also appearing as an uncredited extra in the film The Wildcats of St Trinian's.[7] From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, she performed on stage in twenty different theatrical productions, working extensively with the Birmingham Repertory Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Company.[8] Her classic Shakespearean roles included Calpurnia in Julius Caesar (1987), Cordelia in King Lear (1990), Hero in Much Ado About Nothing (1990–1991), Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream (1992) and Desdemona in Othello (1993).[9]

Around the same time, she could be seen playing small parts in television shows like A Killing on the Exchange (1987), Hannay (1989), Covington Cross (1992), Soldier Soldier (1993) and Crocodile Shoes (1994), and also had various guest roles in ITV's long-running police procedural The Bill (1988–1995). In film, she appeared in The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) with Helen Mirren, The Infiltrator (1995) with Oliver Platt and Carrington (1995) with Emma Thompson, where she played writer Frances Partridge.[10]

In April 1996, she got her first regular television role as customs officer Katherine Roberts in the ITV crime drama The Knock, appearing in all thirteen episodes of the second series. In December, she played the lead role opposite Daniel Craig in The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders, an ITV adaptation of Daniel Defoe's novel Moll Flanders. She received a nomination for Best Actress for her performance at the following year's British Academy Television Awards.[11]

Kingston at the 2012 Florida Supercon

In September 1997, Kingston gained North American television fame after being cast as a main character in the long-running medical drama ER. She made her first appearance as British surgeon Elizabeth Corday in the premiere of the fourth season, the Emmy Award-winning live episode "Ambush". Having appeared in the show for just over seven seasons, she left it in October 2004, in the eleventh-season episode "Fear", after her contract was not renewed. Being 41 at the time, she criticised the move as ageism, stating that "apparently, I, according to the producers and the writers, am part of the old fogies who are no longer interesting."[12] Despite that, she said that she was "very proud of the work [she had] done over the past eight years" and "grateful for the professional associations and friendships [she had] made through ER".[12]

The ER role helped propel Kingston's career to new heights, which led to a number of big-screen appearances in films like the Clive Owen neo-noir drama Croupier (1998)[13][14] and independent period drama Sweet Land (2005), as well as the crime dramas Essex Boys (2000) and Alpha Dog (2006).[7] In 2003, she battled Romans as the warrior queen of Britain in ITV's biopic Boudica, which was also released in the USA on PBS under the title Warrior Queen and marked the screen debut of Emily Blunt.[12][15]

In November 2005, Kingston guest starred as a vacationer whose husband gets kidnapped by a Mexican street gang in an episode of the CBS crime drama Without a Trace, titled "Viuda Negra" and directed by her former ER co-star Paul McCrane. The following year, she returned to the stage after ten years in the West End production of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, starring as Nurse Ratched opposite Christian Slater as Randle McMurphy.[16] She then revealed that she auditioned for the role of Lynette Scavo on ABC's Desperate Housewives but was turned away for being too curvy.[17]

2008–2015: Doctor Who and further television and stage work[edit]

In 2008, Kingston guest starred as Professor River Song in the fourth series of the BBC's long-running science fiction television series Doctor Who, in the two-part story "Silence in the Library" / "Forest of the Dead", starring David Tennant as the Tenth Doctor. She thought it was simply a one-off guest role but was delighted to find out that she would be a returning character after the story's writer, Steven Moffat, succeeded Russell T Davies as the Doctor Who showrunner.[18] She reprised the role in thirteen episodes between 2010 and 2015, appearing on screen opposite two more incarnations of the Doctor played by Matt Smith and Peter Capaldi.[19] Kingston has also portrayed the role in a number of audio dramas from Big Finish Productions, including her solo series The Diary of River Song (2015–2023).[20]

Kingston with her Doctor Who co-stars Catherine Tate and Karen Gillan at the 2019 GalaxyCon Minneapolis

In September 2008, Kingston took the part of Mrs. Bennet in ITV's acclaimed four-part drama Lost in Austen, based on Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice. In October, she appeared in the episode "Art Imitates Life" of the police procedural drama CSI: Crime Scene Investigation as psychiatrist and grief counsellor Patricia Alwick, who helped the team cope with the recent death of one of their members.

In both 2009 and 2010, Kingston had recurring roles as MI6 agent Fiona Banks in the ABC science fiction drama FlashForward and defence attorney Miranda Pond in the NBC legal drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, in which she reunited with her former ER castmates, Mariska Hargitay and Maria Bello. In spring 2009, Kingston returned to ER itself during its fifteenth and final season for two episodes, "Dream Runner" and the two-hour series finale, "And in the End...".[21] In June, she starred as the lead character Ellie Lagden, one of four former convicts, in the BBC One eight-part drama series Hope Springs.

Kingston at the 2016 Phoenix Comicon

In the early 2010s, Kingston played a housewife in the five-part supernatural drama Marchlands (2011), an archaeologist in the second series of the revived Upstairs Downstairs (2012)[22] and an analyst working for a missing persons unit in the four-part crime drama Chasing Shadows (2014).[23] In the US, she appeared in the romantic film Like Crazy (2011) and the Grey's Anatomy spin-off series Private Practice (2011), in the guest role of a psychiatrist writing book reviews.[24] She also starred in the first season of The CW's superhero drama series Arrow (2013) as Professor Dinah Lance, the mother of Laurel and Sara Lance,[25] and later reprised the role in a few episodes over the next three seasons.[26][27] On stage, she participated in the Donmar Warehouse production of Friedrich Schiller's play Luise Miller (2011), directed by Michael Grandage.

In July 2013, she played Lady Macbeth opposite Kenneth Branagh in the Manchester International Festival's production of Macbeth, which was broadcast live in cinemas worldwide as part of the National Theatre Live programme.[28] Following a nomination for Best Actress at the Manchester Theatre Awards,[29] she reprised her role with Branagh at the Park Avenue Armory in June 2014, making her New York stage debut.[30] Earlier in April, Branagh and Kingston took other classic Shakespearean lead roles in the two-and-a-half-hour adaptation of Antony and Cleopatra, broadcast on BBC Radio 3 as part of its celebration of the 450th anniversary of Shakespeare's birth.[31]

2016–present: Recent work[edit]

During the late 2010s, she took a prominent role as Sarah Bishop in Sky's fantasy drama A Discovery of Witches (2018–2022), while also appearing in shows like Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016),[32] Shoot the Messenger (2016)[33] and The Widow (2019).[7] In 2021, she wrote a River Song novel called Doctor Who: The Ruby's Curse for BBC Books,[34] and reprised the role for pre-recorded elements of the interactive theatrical experience Time Fracture.[35][36] The following year, she starred as British Prime Minister candidate Audrey Gratz in the Netflix spy miniseries Treason and as the villainous Lucifer in the Oliver Twist-inspired children's television series Dodger, also starring the Ninth Doctor actor, Christopher Eccleston.[37][38][39]

In January 2023, she returned to the Royal Shakespeare Company for the first time since the early nineties in the role of Prospero in The Tempest.[40]

Personal life[edit]

Kingston met English actor Ralph Fiennes while they were both students at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. They were together for ten years before marrying in 1993. In 1995, Fiennes began an affair with his Hamlet co-star Francesca Annis and left Kingston the following year; they were divorced in 1997.[41] In a 2006 interview, she admitted to considering and nearly attempting suicide after her separation from Fiennes.[42]

At the end of 1998,[41] Kingston married Florian Haertel, a German writer and freelance journalist, having met him the previous year on a blind date arranged by friends;[43] they had a daughter, Salome Violetta Haertel, born 28 March 2001.[44] Kingston and Haertel separated in 2009.[45] On 30 October 2009, Haertel sued Kingston for dissolution of the marriage, and the divorce was finalised in 2013.[46]

Kingston appeared on the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? in September 2012, investigating the lives of her great-grandfather Will Keevil and her four-times great-grandmother, Elizabeth Braham.[47][48]

In 2015, Kingston married Jonathan Stamp, a television producer in an Italian ceremony.[49]

Kingston has lived in the United States,[50] and moved back to the UK in 2019.[51]



Year Title Role Notes
1980 The Wildcats of St. Trinian's Schoolgirl Uncredited
1989 The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover Adele
1994 A Pin for the Butterfly Mrs. Solomon
1995 Carrington Frances Partridge
1996 Saint-Ex Chic Party Guest
1998 Croupier Jani de Villiers
1999 This Space Between Us Peternelle
2000 Essex Boys Lisa Locke
2005 Sweet Land Brownie
2006 Alpha Dog Tiffany Hartunian
2007 Crashing Diane Freed
2009 Sordid Things Eve Manchester
2011 Like Crazy Jackie
Ghost Phone: Phone Calls from the Dead Sheila
2013 Bukowski Katharina Bukowski Unreleased
2016 Happily Ever After Ria
2018 Deadpan Tamara Short film


Year Title Role Notes
1980 Grange Hill Jill Harcourt 3 episodes
1986 Henry's Leg Noreen Miniseries
1987 A Killing on the Exchange Ellen Miniseries
1988–1995 The Bill Dr. Howard / Lisa / Maggie Fisher 4 episodes
1989 Hannay Kirsten Larssen Episode: "The Terrors of the Earth"
The Play on One Daniella Episode: "These Foolish Things"
1992 Covington Cross Helen Episode: "Cedric Hits the Road"
1993 Foreign Affairs Actress TV film
Soldier Soldier Ursula Kröhling Episode: "Camouflage"
1994 Woman of the Wolf Woman (voice) TV film
Crocodile Shoes Caroline Carrison 5 episodes
1995 The Infiltrator Anna TV film
1996 The Knock Katherine Roberts 13 episodes
Last of the Czars Alexandra (voice) 3 episodes
The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders Moll Flanders Miniseries
1997 Weapons of Mass Distraction Verity Graham TV film
1997–2009 ER Dr. Elizabeth Corday 160 episodes
2003 Boudica Boudica TV film; a.k.a. Warrior Queen
2005 The Poseidon Adventure Suzanne Harrison TV film
Without a Trace Lucy Costin Episode: "Viuda Negra"
2008 Freezing Serena Wilson Episode #1.3
Lost in Austen Mrs. Bennett Miniseries
CSI: Crime Scene Investigation Patricia Alwick Episode: "Art Imitates Life"
2008, 2010–2013, 2015 Doctor Who River Song 15 episodes[19]
2009 Hope Springs Ellie Lagden 8 episodes
2009–2010 FlashForward Fiona Banks 3 episodes
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Miranda Pond 4 episodes
2010 Ben Hur Ruth Miniseries
2011 Private Practice Dr. Marla Thomkins 2 episodes
Marchlands Helen Maynard Miniseries
2012 Upstairs Downstairs Dr. Blanche Mottershead 5 episodes
Who Do You Think You Are? Herself Episode: "Alex Kingston"
NCIS Miranda Pennebaker Episode: "Gone"
2013–2016 Arrow Dinah Lance 7 episodes
2014 Chasing Shadows Ruth Hattersley Miniseries[52]
2015 American Odyssey Jennifer Wachtel 2 episodes
2016, 2021 Blue Bloods Commander Sloane Thompson 2 episodes
2016 Transformers: Rescue Bots Quickshadow (voice) 5 episodes
Shoot the Messenger Mary Foster 8 episodes
Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life Naomi Shropshire Miniseries
Crushed Cricket Stella Unaired Hulu pilot[53]
2017 Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero Vlurgen (voice) Episode: "Mr. Rippen"
2018–2022 A Discovery of Witches Sarah Bishop 20 episodes
2019 The Widow Judith Gray 8 episodes
2022 Dodger Lucifer 2 episodes
Treason Audrey Gratz 5 episodes[54]


Year Title Role Production Notes
1992 Père Goriot Delphine / Victorine BBC Radio 4 Four-part dramatisation
1994 John Dollar Charlotte BBC Radio 3 Self-adapted by author Marianne Wiggins
2006 Rebecca Narrator BBC Radio 2 Abridged eight-part version
2007 Murder She Thought BBC Radio 4 Story: "Dear George" by Cathy Ace
2014 Antony and Cleopatra Cleopatra BBC Radio 3 Two-and-a-half-hour adaptation starring Kenneth Branagh
2021 Nuremberg Madeleine Jacob [fr] BBC Radio 4 Story: "He Pointed to the Sky" by Jonathan Myerson


Year Title Role Production Notes
2007 Mary Stuart Mary Stuart L.A. Theatre Works Recorded before an audience at the Skirball Cultural Center
2010 Tartuffe Elmire Recorded at The Invisible Studios, West Hollywood
2012 The Angel's Kiss: A Melody Malone Mystery Narrator AudioGO
2015–2023 The Diary of River Song River Song Big Finish Productions Series 1–12
2016 Five Short Stories by Women Narrator L.A. Theatre Works Story: "Once Upon a Time"
2016–2017 Doom Coalition River Song Big Finish Productions 5 stories
2017 Seven Inez McCormack L.A. Theatre Works Recorded before an audience at the James Bridges Theater
2020 Peter Pan Narrator Penguin Audio
2019 The Eighth of March River Song Big Finish Productions Story: "Emancipation"
Ravenous Story: "Companion Piece"
UNIT: The New Series Story: "The Power of River Song"
Transference Sam Ross Non-Doctor Who eight-part psychological thriller
The Legacy of Time River Song Story: "Lies in Ruins"
The Other Queen Narrator Simon & Schuster Audio
2020 The Lives of Captain Jack River Song Big Finish Productions Story: "R&J"
Arkham County Henrietta Audible Original seven-hour drama with Stanley Tucci in the lead role
The Tenth Doctor and River Song River Song Big Finish Productions 3 stories
2021 A Narrow Door Narrator Orion Books
Doctor Who: The Ruby's Curse AudioGO Also writer
Dalek Universe River Song Big Finish Productions Story: "The First Son"
2022 Peladon Story: "The Poison of Peladon"
Marple: Twelve New Mysteries Narrator HarperAudio Story: "Evil in Small Places"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2012 Doctor Who: The Eternity Clock River Song (voice)

Stage work[edit]

Year Title Role Venue
The Idiot Nastasya Filippovna Contact Theatre
1986 The Alchemist Dol Common Birmingham Repertory Theatre
1987 Julius Caesar Culpurnia
Travelling Players Mad Ophelia
1988 Saved Pam
French Without Tears Diana Lake Leicester Haymarket Theatre
The Tutor Fraulien Muller Old Vic Theatre
1989 'Tis A Pity She's A Whore Hippolita Dukes Playhouse
The Country Wife Marjorie Pinchwife
1990–1991 King Lear Cordelia Royal Shakespeare Company
Much Ado About Nothing Hero
Love's Labours Lost Jaquenetta
1991 Curse of the Starving Class Emma
1991–1992 The Bright and Bold Design Grace Rhys
1992 Bad Blood Dolores Gate Theatre
A Midsummer Night's Dream Titania / Hippolyta Crucible Theatre
1993 Othello Desdemona Birmingham Repertory Theatre
1994 Darwin's Flood Emma Darwin Bush Theatre
1995 Morning and Evening Cecilie / Johanne Hampstead Theatre
1996 The Lady From The Sea Ellida Wangel Bridewell Theatre
2006 One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest Nurse Rachet Garrick Theatre
2011 Luise Miller Lady Milford Donmar Warehouse
2013 Macbeth Lady Macbeth Manchester International Festival
2014 Park Avenue Armory
2019 Admissions Sherri Rosen-Mason Trafalgar Theatre
An Enemy of the People Dr. Stockmann Nottingham Playhouse
2021 Doctor Who: Time Fracture River Song Immersive LDN
2022 The Fall Dr. Greta Portius Riverside Studios
2023 The Tempest Prospero Royal Shakespeare Company

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1997 British Academy Television Awards Best Actress The Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders Nominated
1998 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (shared with the cast) ER Won
1999 Won
2000 Nominated
2001 Nominated
2008 Doctor Who Magazine Awards Best Guest Actress Doctor Who (episodes: "Silence in the Library" / "Forest of the Dead") Won
2009 TV Land Awards Icon Award ER Won
2010 Airlock Alpha Portal Awards Best Special Guest Doctor Who (episode: "Time of Angels") Won
Doctor Who Magazine Awards Best Supporting Actress Doctor Who Won
2011 Airlock Alpha Portal Awards Best Special Guest Doctor Who (episode: "Day of the Moon") Nominated
2012 SFX Awards Best Actress Doctor Who Won
Airlock Alpha Portal Awards Best Special Guest Doctor Who (episode: "Let's Kill Hitler") Nominated
2013 Anglophenia's Fan Favorites Women's Tournament Woman of the Year Won
Manchester Theatre Awards Best Actress Macbeth Nominated
2016 Saturn Awards Best Guest Performance in a Television Series Doctor Who (episode: "The Husbands of River Song") Nominated



  • Doctor Who: The Ruby's Curse (2021) ISBN 978-1-78594-713-1


  1. ^ "Happy Birthday, Alex Kingston: A River Song Top 10".
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  4. ^ Dysch, Marcus (20 September 2012). "Alex Kingston discovers her Jewish Background". Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 25 May 2023.
  5. ^ Bauckham, Jon (18 September 2012). "Alex Kingston". Who Do You Think You Are Magazine. Retrieved 27 July 2014.
  6. ^ "(article in German)" (in German). Archived from the original on 1 December 2008. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
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  10. ^ "Review by Kate MacDonald". Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Television in 1997 | BAFTA Awards". Retrieved 29 September 2022.
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  13. ^ Maher, Kevin. "Croupier (1998) review — Clive Owen's modern noir holds all the cards". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
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  26. ^ "Canary Cry - Arrow". Retrieved 29 September 2022.
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  29. ^ "The 2013 Manchester Theatre Awards nominations". There Ought To Be Clowns. 14 January 2014. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  30. ^ Mcdermon, Daniel (20 August 2013). "Branagh's 'Macbeth' Coming to New York's Park Avenue Armory in 2014". The New York Times.
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  32. ^ "Who Is Naomi In The 'Gilmore Girls' Revival? Alex Kingston's Character Brings Some Drama For Rory". Bustle. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
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  36. ^ "Doctor Who star returning as River Song for Time Fracture event". Digital Spy. 15 June 2021. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  37. ^ "Dodger". Retrieved 29 September 2022.
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  39. ^ TVZone (1 September 2022). "DODGER RETURNS TO CBBC FOR NEW ADVENTURES". TVZoneUK. Retrieved 29 September 2022.
  40. ^ "New RSC season to include The Tempest starring Alex Kingston | WhatsOnStage". Retrieved 29 September 2022.
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  42. ^ Walls, Jeannette (31 May 2006). "Dissing the desperately skinny 'Housewives'". Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  43. ^ Freeman, Hilary (22 June 2004). "At my age, if we want to have another child, this is the time to do it". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 10 April 2010.
  44. ^ "Salome Violetta Haertel". Variety. 5 June 2001. Archived from the original on 27 June 2012. Retrieved 4 June 2012.
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  46. ^ "FLORIAN HAERTEL VS ALEXANDRA KINGSTON". UniCourt. 20 December 2018. Archived from the original on 19 December 2018. Retrieved 20 December 2018.
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  49. ^ "Doctor Who star Alex Kingston marries TV producer Jonathan Stamp in romantic Italian ceremony". 19 July 2015. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  50. ^ "Alex Kingston". The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (Interview). Interviewed by Craig Ferguson. Los Angeles: CBS. 6 January 2011.
  51. ^ "Alex Kingston: 'I don't want to play King Lear – let's create new heavy hitting roles for women'". The Stage. 16 September 2019. Retrieved 16 April 2020.
  52. ^ "Reece Shearsmith, Alex Kingston and Noel Clarke to star in Chasing Shadows". ITV Presscentre. Retrieved 19 July 2014.
  53. ^ "Colm Feore, Alex Kingston & Jacob Vargas Join Hulu Pilot 'Crushed'". Deadline Hollywood. 9 February 2016. Retrieved 24 November 2018.
  54. ^ "Meet the cast of Treason on Netflix". RadioTimes. 25 December 2022. Retrieved 26 December 2022.

External links[edit]