Louise Brealey

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Louise Brealey
Brealey in 2009
Born (1979-03-27) 27 March 1979 (age 39)
Bozeat, Northamptonshire, England
Occupation Actress, writer, journalist
Years active 2001–present

Louise Brealey, also credited as Loo Brealey, is an English actress, writer, and journalist. She is best known for playing student nurse Roxanne Bird in Casualty, and Molly Hooper in Sherlock.[1]

In 2015 she won best supporting actress in a feature TV show (Containment), at the Southampton international film festival.

Early life and education[edit]

Born in Bozeat,[2] Northamptonshire, England, she attended Kimbolton School, proceeding to read History at Cambridge. She then trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City with clown teacher Philippe Gaulier.


Brealey has written on cinema, art and music since her teens, contributing reviews and features for magazines including Premiere UK, Empire, Radio Times, SKY, The Face, Neon, AnOther and Total Film. She is the editor of Anarchy and Alchemy: The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky (Creation Books, 2007).

Until April 2009, Brealey was the deputy editor of Wonderland, interviewing Liv Tyler for the February/March cover.[3] Other features include the Pet Shop Boys[4] and art collective Gelitin.[5] A freelance Associate Producer, she has written documentary pitches for BBC Arts. In 2013 her first play Pope Joan[6] was performed by the National Youth Theatre.


In March 2012 Brealey produced, co-wrote and co-starred in The Charles Dickens Show, a children's comedy drama for BBC 2 starring Jeff Rawle, Rupert Graves, Neil Dudgeon, Nathaniel Parker, Lynda Baron, Honeysuckle Weeks, Rupert Young, Adjoa Andoh, Sam Kelly, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Fiona Button and Mariah Gale.



Brealey made her television debut as Nurse Roxy Bird in two series of BBC drama Casualty. She then played Judy Smallweed in the 2005 BBC adaptation of Bleak House. Terry Wogan took Judy and her snaggle-toothed grandfather Smallweed (Phil Davis) to heart, regaling Radio 2 listeners with regular renditions of Davis' catchphrase "Shake me up, Judy!". Brealey followed Bleak House with a comic turn as Anorak, Alistair MacGowan's black-bobbed sidekick, in the Sunday night comedy-drama Mayo, cancelled by the BBC after just one series. The show fared better on its US release in 2007, with The Hollywood Reporter comparing it to Moonlighting. She auditioned for the role of Rose Tyler in Doctor Who.[7]

She has since appeared in Law and Order UK and the BBC's new 1950's remake of Father Brown with Mark Williams (2013).

Brealey plays pathologist[8] Molly Hooper in all four series of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's television drama, Sherlock.[9]


Brealey made her stage debut in 2001 as 14-year-old Sophie in Max Stafford-Clark's production of Judy Upton's Sliding With Suzanne at London's Royal Court. The Daily Telegraph called her performance "a perfect poignant study of adolescence".

Her portrayal of child prodigy Thomasina in the Bristol Old Vic production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in 2005 was described as "excellent" by The Mail on Sunday, with The Daily Telegraph saying that "the evening belongs to Loo Brealey's Thomasina".

Next she appeared in Dennis Kelly's award-winning two-hander After The End for Paines Plough, which opened in Russia before a hit Off-Broadway run in July 2006.[10]

Brealey has worked twice with Sir Peter Hall. First in 2007 on Simon Gray's Little Nell, in which she played the title role opposite Michael Pennington and Tim Pigott-Smith. Based on The Invisible Woman, Claire Tomalin's award-winning biography of Charles Dickens's mistress Ellen Ternan, Little Nell followed her story from 17 to 44 years old. Critics described Brealey's performance as "excellent" (The Daily Mail), "impressive" (The Stage), "highly compelling" (The Independent) and "astounding" (British Theatre Guide).

The following year, Hall cast her as Sonya in his critically acclaimed production of Uncle Vanya, which opened London's Rose Theatre. The Telegraph called hers "a name to watch" and The Independent compared her to Joan Fontaine in Rebecca. The Spectator said: "Brealey is the only performer who uncovers the pathetic poetry beneath the indolent superficialities. Her big disadvantage is that she’s too attractive for ‘plain’ Sonya, but she disguises this by suggesting a lack of sexual allure with awkward giggles, squirrelly movements and a stupefied beaming naivety. All brilliantly done..."

In 2011 she was the sex-mad, short-frocked daughter of Julian Barratt and Doon Mackichan at the Young Vic in Richard Jones's play Government Inspector.

Last year she appeared with Stephen Mangan in Joe Penhall's Birthday at the Royal Court, directed by Roger Michell; and played three lead roles – Cassandra, Andromache and Helen of Troy – in Caroline Bird's sold-out production of The Trojan Women at London's Gate Theatre.[9] The Times called her performances "electrifying" and The Guardian said she "pulled off a remarkable treble".

Brealey talked about the roles in the Evening Standard[11] and wrote a piece for The Times about the experience of going naked on stage.[12][13]

In February 2014 Brealey starred in August Strindberg's Miss Julie at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. The play ran from the 6–15th of the month, was directed by Dominic Hill and adapted by Zinnie Harris. Harris moved the play to the 1920s, 40 years from Strindberg's original and set in the Highlands of Scotland. Brealey performed opposite Keith Fleming as John (Jean), with Jessica Hardwick as Christine, the only other characters to appear onstage.


July 2008, Brealey played Pompilia Comparini in an adaptation[14] of The Ring and the Book, broadcast as part of the BBC Radio 4 "Classic Serial"

Brealey played the role of Anna in Ed Harris' radio play The Wall, broadcast in February 2011.[15]

On 9 December 2014 Brealey played 'Zinevra' in a Radio 3 adaptation of 'The Wager' by Giovanni Boccaccio, presented by Terry Jones as a part of the 'Decameron Nights: Ten Italian Indelicacies Remixed from Boccaccio’.

In 2014 it was announced that Brealey will be taking part in the BBC radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens.[16] In the first episode she played Sister Mary Loquacious.


Brealey read the part of Megan Hipwell in the audiobook edition of The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, which won the 2016 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year.[17][18]

TV and film credits[edit]

List of roles in television and film
Year Title Role Notes
2002–2004 Casualty Roxanne Bird TV series (95 episodes)
2003 The Tooth Faerie Short film
2004 I Want You Short film
2005 Bleak House Judy Smallweed TV series (8 episodes)
2005 The English Harem Suzy TV film
2006 Mayo Harriet 'Anorak' Tate TV series (8 episodes); credited as Loo Brealey
2007 Green Abi TV film; credited as Loo Brealey
2008 Hotel Babylon Chloe TV series (Episode: "Episode #3.7")
2010–present Sherlock Molly Hooper TV series (12 episodes)
2010 Reuniting the Rubins Miri Rubins
2011 Law & Order: UK Joanne Vickery TV series (Episode: "Tick Tock")
2011 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Hairdresser Credited as Loo Brealey
2012 The Charles Dickens Show Nelly Trent/Scrooge/Tiny Tim TV series
2013 Father Brown Eleanor Knight TV series (Episode: "The Mayor and the Magician")
2014 Delicious Stella
2014 Ripper Street Dr Amelia Frayn TV Series, appeared in 7 of 8 episodes of the 3rd Series[19]
2015 Victor Frankenstein Sexy Society Girl
2015 Containment Sally
2015 Inspector George Gently Jo Parker TV series (Episode: "Gently Among Friends")
2017 Clique Jude McDermid
2017 Back Cass
2018 A Discovery of Witches Gillian Chamberlain

Theatre credits[edit]

List of roles in theatre
Year Title Role Director Theatre
2001 Sliding with Suzanne Sophie Max Stafford-Clark Royal Court Theatre
2005 Arcadia Thomasina Rachel Kavanaugh Bristol Old Vic
2006 After the End Louise Roxana Silbert US and Russian tour, Off-Broadway
2007 Little Nell Nell Peter Hall Theatre Royal, Bath
2008 Uncle Vanya Sonya Peter Hall Rose Theatre, Kingston
2008 Pornography Actor 7 Sean Holmes Traverse Theatre
2009 The Stone Hannah Ramin Gray Royal Court Theatre
2009 The Ones That Flutter Julie Ray Abbey Wright Theatre 503
2010 Country Music Lynsey Lisa Blair & Eleanor While West Yorkshire Playhouse
2011 Government Inspector Mayor's daughter Richard Jones Young Vic
2012 The Trojan Women Cassandra/Andromache/Helen of Troy Christopher Haydon Gate Theatre (London)
2013 The Herd Claire Howard Davies Bush Theatre
2014 Miss Julie Miss Julie Dominic Hill Citizens Theatre
2014 Letters Live[20][21][22] Hay Festival, Wales
2015 Letters Live Freemasons' Hall
Husbands & Sons Lizzie Holroyd Marianne Elliott Co-production between National Theatre,London and Royal Exchange, Manchester


  1. ^ Day, Elizabeth (22 January 2012). "Louise Brealey: 'I don't think Molly is really Sherlock's type'". The Observer. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Loo Brealey". Holby.tv. Retrieved 16 August 2008.
  3. ^ "LivTyler". Louisebrealey.com. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  4. ^ "Gelitin". louisebrealey.com. 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Gelitin". Louisebrealey.com. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  6. ^ Andrew Dickson. "From Sherlock to Pope Joan: actor Louise Brealey on writing her first play | Stage". The Guardian. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  7. ^ Bannister, Rosie. "20 Questions: Louise Brealey". WhatsOnStage.com. Retrieved 6 May 2015.
  8. ^ "BBC One – Sherlock – Molly Hooper". BBC. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  9. ^ a b Urwin, Rosamund (7 November 2012). "Sherlock's Molly: the original Cumberbitch". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  10. ^ In Brits Off Broadway's 'After the End,' Abuse in a Fallout Shelter
  11. ^ "Sherlock's Molly: the original Cumberbitch – London Life – Life & Style". London Evening Standard. 7 November 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  12. ^ Louise Brealey (11 December 2012). "Louise Brealey: how it feels to be naked on stage". The Times. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  13. ^ "On Yellow Paper – What Molly Did Next". Onyellowpaper.tumblr.com. 11 December 2012. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  14. ^ "Classic Serial". The Ring and The Book. BBC. Retrieved 18 June 2015.
  15. ^ "BBC Radio 3 – The Wire, The Wall". BBC. 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  16. ^ Jones, Paul (5 September 2014). "Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens to be adapted for Radio 4". Radio Times. Retrieved 6 September 2014.
  17. ^ "Meet the Cast: The girls from Paula Hawkins' THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Exclusive Audio Clips) | Books on Tape". Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  18. ^ "The Year's Best Audiobooks: 2016 Audie Award Winners". The Booklist Reader. 11 May 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  19. ^ IMDB
  20. ^ "Letters Live: Epistolary Joy At Freemasons' Hall". Londonist.
  21. ^ "BBC Sherlock star, X Files actor and a host of other celebrities perform at charity event for the Reading Agency". The Guardian.
  22. ^ "Letters Live at Hay Festival". The Telegraph.

External links[edit]