Frances Barber

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Frances Barber
Frances Brookes

(1958-05-13) 13 May 1958 (age 65)
Alma materUniversity College of North Wales
Years active1979–present

Frances Barber (née Brookes, born 13 May 1958) is an English actress. She received Olivier Award nominations for her work in the plays Camille (1985), and Uncle Vanya (1997). Her film appearances include three collaborations with Gary Oldman in Prick Up Your Ears (1987), We Think the World of You (1988) and Dead Fish (2005); as well as Sammy and Rosie Get Laid (1987); Soft Top Hard Shoulder (1992); and latterly Film Stars Don't Die in Liverpool (2017). Barber's numerous television credits include The Street (2009), Doctor Who (2011), Silk (2012–2014), and Whitstable Pearl (2021–2022).

Life and career[edit]

Barber was born in Wolverhampton, Staffordshire, England.[1] Her parents are S.W. Brookes and Gladys Simpson; Barber is the fourth of six children. She attended the Wolverhampton Municipal Grammar School.[2]

Barber studied drama at the University College of North Wales in Bangor, where she was a contemporary of director Danny Boyle, who became her boyfriend.[3]

She appeared in the Pet Shop Boys' musical Closer to Heaven in 2001 as well as being guest singer for the song "Friendly Fire" on the Pet Shop Boys' 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 2005–2006 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.[4] They again performed the two plays in repertory at the New London Theatre on Drury Lane,[5][6] opening in November 2007 and closing mid-January 2008.

In 2011, Barber guest-starred in the Doctor Who episodes "A Good Man Goes to War" and "The Wedding of River Song" (and five other episodes, sometimes uncredited) as Madame Kovarian.[7] She also acted in the television film We'll Take Manhattan as Diana Vreeland. In 2019, she starred in the Pet Shop Boys' musical Musik.

In May 2022, Barber appeared as Lesley in series 8 episode 4 of BBC dark comedy series, Inside No. 9 (2022), in the episode titled "Love Is A Stranger".[8][9]

Political views[edit]

Barber is a British unionist. She signed a letter supporting a No vote ahead of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. After the Scottish National Party won 56 seats at the 2015 general election, she caused controversy after making comments on Twitter comparing the SNP to the Third Reich, further stating "God help us all is all I can say when the racist S.N.P. try to take over, England will react we will have civil war."[10]

She supported Remain during the 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum.[11][12]

Barber urged a vote for the Labour Party at the 2017 UK general election. Critical of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, she said "I will vote Labour holding my nose. Urge you too."[13] In September 2017, she resigned from the party, saying: "I can't belong to a party full of Misogyny, Anti-Semitism and Thuggery".[14] In the 2019 United Kingdom general election, she backed the Liberal Democrats.[15]

In 2018, she was among the signatories to a letter published in The Observer arguing that debate surrounding reforms of the Gender Recognition Act were being silenced.[16] In September 2020, she signed a further letter in support of J.K. Rowling, against what The Scotsman described as "the abuse and death threats" Rowling had received after publicising her views.[17]


In 2006, Barber received an honorary fellowship from the University of Wolverhampton.[18]


  • Polonius in Hamlet (Theatre Royal Windsor, 2021)
  • Elsa Jean Krakowski in The Unfriend (Chichester Festival Theatre, Chichester, 2022 and The Criterion, London, 2023)

Selected filmography[edit]

Music video[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2011 Deeper Understanding Wife of a computer junkie Kate Bush album Director's Cut[23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sleeman, Elizabeth, ed. (2001). The International Who's Who of Women 2002 (3rd ed.). London: Europa Publications. p. 41. ISBN 1-85743-122-7. OCLC 59532283 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Wolverhampton Municipal Grammar School".
  3. ^ Barnett, Laura (21 April 2009). "Portrait of the artist: Frances Barber, actor". The Guardian. London. ISSN 1756-3224.
  4. ^ British Theatre Guide – RSC Double Press Archived 26 September 2007 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  5. ^ "The British Theatre Guide : Reviews – The Seagull (RSC at the New London Theatre)". 12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 5 July 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  6. ^ "The British Theatre Guide : Reviews – King Lear (RSC at the New London Theatre)". 12 January 2008. Archived from the original on 16 May 2008. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  7. ^ BBC One – Doctor Who, Series 6, A Good Man Goes to War. BBC. (23 August 2011). Retrieved 8 June 2012.
  8. ^ Cormack, Morgan (27 April 2023). "Inside No. 9 season 8 cast: Meet the guest stars in new episodes". Radio Times. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  9. ^ "Reece Shearsmith on the new series of Inside No 9". Great British Life. 22 April 2023. Retrieved 2 May 2023.
  10. ^ "Actress sparks fury with 'Nazi' SNP comparison". The Herald. Glasgow. 10 May 2015. ISSN 0965-9439. Retrieved 18 December 2019.
  11. ^ "What Remainers should have done differently | the New European". Archived from the original on 3 June 2021. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  12. ^ "Labour Used to be the Party of Democracy - I Don't See That Any More". 2 October 2017.
  13. ^ Adejobi, Alicia (8 June 2017). "Labour vs Conservatives: Who are celebrities voting for in the general election 2017?". International Business Times. Newsweek Media Group. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  14. ^ Wearmouth, Rachel (26 September 2017). "Labour in Fresh Anti-Semitism Row as Speaker Calls for Free Speech to Cover Holocaust Denial". HuffPost UK. Oath Inc. Retrieved 26 September 2017.
  15. ^ "General election: Celebrities reveal who they're backing".
  16. ^ "Women's groups claim 'silencing' on transgender concerns". 14 October 2018.
  17. ^ Flockhart, Gary (28 September 2020). "JK Rowling receives support from Ian McEwan and Frances Barber amid 'transphobia' row". The Scotsman. Retrieved 18 August 2022.
  18. ^ "Actress Frances Barber receives honorary award". University of Wolverhampton. 21 August 2006. Archived from the original on 18 February 2007. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  19. ^[permanent dead link]
  20. ^[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Thaxter, John (6 July 2006). "Reviews: Antony and Cleopatra". The Stage. London. ISSN 0038-9099. Retrieved 13 August 2009.
  22. ^ "Off Broadway Reviews – The School For Scandal", The Stage Review, 27 April 2016
  23. ^ "Kate Bush - Deeper Understanding - Official Video". YouTube. 25 April 2011. Retrieved 15 October 2022.

External links[edit]