Harriet Walter

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Harriet Walter

Harriet Walter - Actress.jpg
Harriet Walter discussing the role of women in Shakespeare
Harriet Mary Walter

(1950-09-24) 24 September 1950 (age 72)
London, England
Alma materLondon Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active1974–present
Guy Paul
(m. 2011)
PartnerPeter Blythe (1996–2004; his death)

Dame Harriet Mary Walter DBE (born 24 September 1950) is a British actress. She has received a Laurence Olivier Award as well as numerous nominations including for a Tony Award, three Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2011, she was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to drama.

Walter began her career in 1974 and made her Broadway debut in 1983. For her work in various Royal Shakespeare Company productions, including Twelfth Night (1987–88) and Three Sisters (1988), she won the 1988 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Revival. Her other notable work for the RSC includes leading roles in Macbeth (1999) and Antony and Cleopatra (2006). She won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress for her role as Elizabeth I in the 2005 London revival of Mary Stuart, and received a Tony Award nomination for Best Actress in a Play when she reprised the role on Broadway in 2009. She reprised her roles of Brutus in Julius Caesar (2012) and the title role in Henry IV (2014), as well as playing Prospero in The Tempest, as part of an all-female Shakespeare trilogy in 2016.

Her film appearances include Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Governess (1998), Villa des Roses (2002), Atonement (2007), The Young Victoria (2009), A Royal Affair (2012), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Denial (2016), The Sense of an Ending (2017), Rocketman (2019) and Ridley Scott's The Last Duel (2021). On television she starred as Natalie Chandler in the ITV drama series Law & Order: UK (2009–14), in four episodes of Downton Abbey (2013–15), in the miniseries London Spy (2015), as Clementine Churchill in The Crown (2016), in Patrick Melrose (2018), and in the third season of Killing Eve (2020). She is a three-time Primetime Emmy Award nominee; two for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Succession (2018–21) and one for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series for Ted Lasso (2021).

Early life[edit]

Walter was born in London, England. She is the niece of British actor Sir Christopher Lee,[1] being the daughter of his elder sister Xandra Lee. On her father's side, she is a great-great-great-granddaughter of John Walter, founder of The Times.[2] She was educated at Cranborne Chase School. After turning down a university education, she was in turn rejected by five different drama schools before being admitted to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[3] Following her training she gained early experience with the Joint Stock Theatre Company, Paines Plough touring, and the Duke's Playhouse, Lancaster.[4]


She has worked many times throughout her career with the Royal Shakespeare Company, in productions including Nicholas Nickleby (1980), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1981), as Helena in All's Well That Ends Well (1981), The Castle (1985), Dasha in A Question of Geography, Viola in Twelfth Night (1988), Masha in Three Sisters (1988), The Duchess of Malfi (1989), Macbeth (1999) and Much Ado about Nothing (2002). She returned to the RSC in 2015 to play Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman, directed by Gregory Doran.

She was made an associate artist of the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1987. Her other theatre work includes Three Birds Alighting on a Field (1991), Arcadia (1993), Hedda Gabler (1996), Ivanov (1997) and Mary Stuart (2005).

In New York, she made her Broadway debut in 1983, when the RSC production of All's Well That Ends Well transferred there. In 1993 she starred as Biddy in the Off-Broadway production of Three Birds Alighting on a Field, for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination. She returned to the Broadway stage in 2009 when she and Janet McTeer reprised their roles in Mary Stuart. In 2014 Walter starred as Brutus in an all-female production of Julius Caesar Off-Broadway and received her second Drama Desk nomination.

Her films include Sense and Sensibility (1995), Bedrooms and Hallways (1998), The Governess (1998), Onegin (1999), Villa des Roses (2002) and Bright Young Things (2003). On television, in 1987, she portrayed Lord Peter Wimsey's love interest Harriet Vane for three instalments of the BBC's A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery, played Detective Inspector Natalie Chandler from 2009 to 2012 in the ITV drama series Law & Order: UK. Other TV roles include Annie Keel in the 2001 series Waking the Dead, Mrs. Gowan in the 2008 BBC adaptation of Little Dorrit, Clare in A Short Stay in Switzerland (2009) and Lady Shackleton in four episodes of the series Downton Abbey (2013–15).[5] In 2016, she played Clementine Churchill on the Netflix series The Crown, and in 2017, appeared in two episodes of the BBC drama Call the Midwife as Sister Ursula.

She is also a patron of several notable charities; the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres,[6] Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports the welfare of Britons imprisoned overseas and their families and Clean Break, a charity and theatre company dedicated to sharing the often hidden stories of imprisoned women, and to transforming the lives of women offenders and—through theatre education—of women at risk of offending.

Walter played Brutus in Julius Caesar in 2012, and the title role in Henry IV in 2014, in all-female productions at the Donmar Warehouse. Both productions transferred to Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse in New York. She was set to reprise both roles, as well as playing Prospero in an all-female production of The Tempest, as part of director Phyllida Lloyd's Shakespeare trilogy at the Donmar's temporary, in-the-round, 420-seat theatre next to King's Cross station in 2016.

On 19 August 2019 Deadline reported that Walter would be joining the cast of the BBC America and AMC series Killing Eve.[7] Walter played Dasha, a Russian exile and former Olympics gymnastics champion who trained Villanelle in assassination.[8]

Personal life[edit]

From 1996 until his death in 2004, Walter's partner was actor Peter Blythe.[9] In 2009, she met actor Guy Paul. They married in May 2011.[10]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Reflections Ottilie Garinger
1985 The Good Father Emmy Hooper
Turtle Diary Harriet Simms
1990 May Fools Lily
1993 The Hour of the Pig Jeannie Martin
1995 Sense and Sensibility Fanny Dashwood
1996 The Leading Man Liz Flett
1997 Keep the Aspidistra Flying Julia Comstock
1998 Bedrooms and Hallways Sybil
The Governess Mrs. Cavendish
1999 Onegin Madame Larina
2002 Villa des Roses Olive Burrell
2003 Bright Young Things Lady Maitland
2005 Chromophobia Penelope Aylesbury
2006 Babel Lilly
2007 Atonement Emily Tallis
2009 Chéri La Loupiote
The Young Victoria Queen Adelaide
Morris: A Life with Bells On Professor Compton Chamberlayne
From Time to Time Lady Dresham
2012 A Royal Affair Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
The Wedding Video Alex
2014 Suite Française Viscountess de Montmort
2015 Man Up Fran
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Kalonia
2016 Denial Vera Reich
Mindhorn Agent
2017 The Sense of an Ending Margaret
2019 Rocketman Helena Piena
2020 Herself Peggy
2021 The Last Duel Nicole de Buchard
2022 Your Christmas or Mine?


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Rebecca Clarice Episode #1.3
1980 The Imitation Game Cathy Raine Television film
1981 The Cherry Orchard Varya Television film
1984 Amy Amy Johnson Television film
1985 The Price Frances Carr 6 episodes
1986 Girls on Top R.S.C. Actress 3 Episode: "Mr. Yummy Brownie"
1987 A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery Harriet Vane Main cast, 10 episodes
1989 Theatre Night Sheila Episode: "Benefactors"
1991 Screen Two Amelia Cleverly Episode: "They Never Slept"
1991 The Men's Room Charity Walton Miniseries, 5 episodes
1991 Ashenden Giulia Lazzari Episode: "The Dark Woman"
1993 Inspector Morse Dr. Esther Martin Episode: "The Day of the Devil"
1993 Performance Mrs. Dorothy Maitland Episode: "The Maitlands"
1994 Hard Times Rachel 4 episodes
1997 A Dance to the Music of Time Mildred Episode: "The Thirties"
1998–1999 Unfinished Business Amy Main cast, 12 episodes
1999 Dalziel and Pascoe Mary Waddell Episode: "Time to Go"
1999 The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns Queen Morag Television film
2001 Waking the Dead Annie Keel 2 episodes
2003 My Uncle Silas Pamela Farrell Episode: "Shandy Lil"
2004 London Virginia Woolf 2 episodes
2004 Imagine Mother Episode: "The Smoking Diaries"
2004 Spooks Deep Throat Episode: "Who Guards the Guards?"
2005 New Tricks Madeline Episode: "Trust Me"
2005 Messiah Professor Robb 3 episodes
2005–2013 Midsomer Murders Margaret Winstanley / Diana Davenport 2 episodes
2006 Agatha Christie's Marple Duchess of Malfi Episode: "Sleeping Murder"
2006 Doctors Annie Fenton 4 episodes
2007 Trial & Retribution The Judge Episode: "Paradise Lost: Part 1"
2007 Five Days ACC Jennie Griffin 3 episodes
2007 Ballet Shoes Dr. Smith Television film
2008 The Palace Joanna Woodward Episode #1.1
2008 Fairy Tales Charlotte Brooks Episode: "Cinderella"
2008 10 Days to War Anne Campbell Episode: "Failure Is Not an Option"
2008 Agatha Christie's Poirot Miss Bulstrode Episode: "Cat Among the Pigeons"
2008 Little Dorrit Mrs. Gowan Miniseries, 4 episodes
2009 Hunter ACC Jenny Griffin Miniseries, 2 episodes
2009 A Short Stay in Switzerland Clare Television film
2009–2014 Law & Order: UK Natalie Chandler Main cast, 40 episodes
2013–2015 Downton Abbey Lady Shackleton Recurring role, 4 episodes
2013 Heading Out Angela 2 episodes
2013 By Any Means Sally Walker Episode #1.4
2014 The Assets Jeanne Vertefeuille Miniseries, 8 episodes
2015 London Spy Claire Miniseries, 3 episodes
2016 The Crown Clementine Churchill Recurring role, 6 episodes
2017 Call the Midwife Sister Ursula 3 episodes
2017 Black Sails Marion Guthrie 3 episodes
2018 Patrick Melrose Princess Margaret Episode: "Some Hope"
2018 Flowers Hylda Main cast, 5 episodes
2018 Black Earth Rising Eve Ashby 2 episodes
2018 My Dinner with Hervé Baskin Television film
2018–present Succession Lady Caroline Collingwood 3 episodes
2019 Curfew Helen Newman 4 episodes
2019 The Spanish Princess Lady Margaret Beaufort Miniseries, 8 episodes
2020 The End Edie 10 episodes
2020 Belgravia Caroline, Countess of Brockenhurst 6 episodes
2020 Killing Eve Dasha 7 episodes
2020 Talking Heads Muriel Episode: "Soldiering On"
2021 Doctor Who Prime Minister Jo Patterson Episode: "Revolution of the Daleks"
2021 Ted Lasso Deborah 2 episodes
2022 This Is Going to Hurt Veronique Recurring character[11]
TBA Wool Martha Walker Upcoming series[12]


notable performances



She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours[17][4] and promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to drama.[18]

In 2001 she and Kenneth Branagh were both given honorary doctorates and honorary fellowships at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford.

Her performance in Mary Stuart at the Donmar Warehouse transferred to Broadway, where it was nominated for numerous Tony Awards, including Best Actress nods for her and her co-star Janet McTeer.[19]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1988 Laurence Olivier Best Actress in a Revival A Question of Geography / Twelfth Night / Three Sisters Won
1994 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Three Birds Alighting on a Field Nominated
2001 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress Life x 3 Nominated
2005 Evening Standard Award Best Actress Mary Stuart Won
2006 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress Nominated
2009 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
2014 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Julius Caesar Nominated
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series The Crown Nominated
2020 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Succession Nominated
2022 Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Ted Lasso Nominated


  • Clamorous Voices: Shakespeare's Women Today (1988). Women's Press, ISBN 0-7043-4145-X.
  • Players of Shakespeare 3 (1994). Cambridge University Press, ISBN 978-0-521-47734-5.
  • Macbeth (Actors on Shakespeare) (2002). Faber and Faber, London. ISBN 0-571-21407-X
  • Other People's Shoes (2003). Nick Hern Books, London. ISBN 1-85459-751-5. Autobiography.
  • Facing It, Reflections on Images of Older Women (2010). Self Published, London. ISBN 978-0-9566497-1-3
  • Brutus and Other Heroines: Playing Shakespeare's Roles for Women (2016). Nick Hern Books, London. ISBN 978-1-84842-293-3


  1. ^ Fox, Chloe (3 February 2007). "The world of Harriet Walter, actress". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  2. ^ "News: Stationers celebrate Times links". InPublishing. 8 April 2011. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  3. ^ Aida Edemariam (15 January 2011). "Life's looking up, Dame Harriet". The Guardian. London.
  4. ^ a b c "Walter, Harriet Mary". Who's Who. Oxford, England: A & C Black. 1995.
  5. ^ ""A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery" Strong Poison: Episode One (TV Episode 1987) - IMDb". Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  6. ^ "Shakespeare Schools Foundation Patrons". Shakespeare Schools Foundation. Shakespeare Schools Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 December 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  7. ^ Petski, Denise (19 August 2019). "'Killing Eve': Harriet Walter & Danny Sapani Join Cast As Production Begins On Season 3". Deadline. Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  8. ^ Weiss, Josh (19 April 2020). "Who Is Dasha? Dame Harriet Walter Breaks Down Her New 'Killing Eve' Character And That Wedding Crash". Forbes. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  9. ^ Shorter, Eric (6 August 2004). "Obituary: Peter Blythe". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 17 December 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  10. ^ Culture (11 May 2011). "Harriet Walter: 'Why I am getting married at 60'". London: Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 July 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  11. ^ Kanter, Jake (24 June 2021). "'This Is Going To Hurt': Harriet Walter, Alex Jennings Join BBC/AMC Series; First Look At Lead Ben Whishaw". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  12. ^ ‘Wool’: Harriet Walter, Avi Nash & Chinaza Uche Join Apple’s Dystopian Drama As Series Regulars
  13. ^ "Olivier Winners 1988". The Official London Theatre Guide. 24 April 2008. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
  14. ^ "BBC News report on critical reception". 5 December 2012. Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  15. ^ Brantley, Ben (18 January 2017). "Review: In 'The Tempest,' Liberation and Exhilaration". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  16. ^ "Scenes of Seduction · British Universities Film & Video Council". Bufvc.ac.uk. 7 March 2005. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  17. ^ "No. 55710". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1999. p. 11.
  18. ^ "No. 59647". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2010. p. 6.
  19. ^ "Billy Elliot musical dominates Broadway's Tony award shortlist". The Guardian. London. 5 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2010.

External links[edit]