Miriam Margolyes

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Miriam Margolyes
Miriam Margolyes 2008.jpg
Margolyes in 2008
Born (1941-05-18) 18 May 1941 (age 74)
Oxford, Oxfordshire, England
Nationality English
Citizenship British (1941–present), Australian (2013–present)
Occupation Actress
Years active 1965–present

Miriam Margolyes, OBE (/ˈmɑːrɡəlz/; born 18 May 1941)[1] is an English-Australian character actress and voice artist. Her earliest roles were in theatre and after several supporting roles in film and television she won a BAFTA Award for her role in The Age of Innocence (1993) and went on to take the role of Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film series.

For many years she has divided her time between Britain and Australia, and she has starred in television shows in both countries, including the Australian premiere of the 2013 play I'll Eat You Last.

Early life[edit]

Margolyes was born in Oxford, England, the only child of Ruth (née Walters; 1905–1974), a property investor and developer, and Joseph Margolyes (1899–1996), a physician from Glasgow.[1][2] She grew up in a Jewish family;[3][4][5] her ancestors migrated to the UK from Poland and Belarus. Her great-grandfather, Symeon Sandmann, was born in the town of Margonin in central-western Poland, which Margolyes visited in 2013.

She attended Oxford High School[1] from 1955 until 1959, and later Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English.[6] There, she began acting in her twenties, and also appeared in productions of the comedy troupe the Cambridge Footlights.[7]

Acting career[edit]

Margolyes reading an extract from Oliver Twist at the Express Yourself creative writing awards, 2006

With her distinctive voice, Margolyes first gained recognition for her work as a voice artist. She recorded a soft-porn audio called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook.[8] She performed most of the supporting female characters in the dubbed Japanese action TV series Monkey. She also worked with the theatre company Gay Sweatshop and provided voiceovers in the Japanese TV series The Water Margin (credited as Mirium Margolyes).

Margolyes' first major role in a film was as Elephant Ethel in Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers (1977). In the 1980s, she made appearances in Blackadder opposite Rowan Atkinson: these roles include the Spanish Infanta in The Black Adder, Lady Whiteadder in Blackadder II and Queen Victoria in Blackadder's Christmas Carol. In 1986 she played a major supporting role in the BBC drama The Life and Loves of a She-Devil. She won the 1989 LA Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Flora Finching in the 1988 film Little Dorrit. On American television, she headlined the short-lived 1992 CBS sitcom Frannie's Turn. In 1994 she won the BAFTA Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role as Mrs Mingott in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence (1993).

Margolyes came to the notice of younger audiences when she starred as Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach (1996); she also provided the voice of the Glowworm in the same film. During the same time she played the Nurse in Baz Luhrmann's Romeo + Juliet (1996). Around this time, she voiced the rabbit character in the animated commercials for Cadbury's Caramel bars[9] and provided the voice of Fly the dog in the Australian family film Babe (1995).[10]

She played Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets in 2002.

She was one of the original cast of the London production of the musical Wicked in 2006, playing Madame Morrible opposite Idina Menzel, a role she also played on Broadway in 2008.[11]

In 2009, she appeared in a new production of Endgame by Samuel Beckett at the Duchess Theatre in London's West End.[12]

Margolyes reprised her role as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 2011.

In 2014 she voiced Nana in the Disney Junior animated series for preschoolers Nina Needs to Go![13]

In January 2016 she appears in The Real Marigold Hotel, a travel documentary series which "takes an all-star cast on the journey of a lifetime."[14]

Other work[edit]

Margolyes is a supporter of Sense (the National Deafblind and Rubella Association) and was the host at the first Sense Creative Writing Awards, held at the Charles Dickens Museum in London in December 2006, where she read a number of works written by talented deafblind people.[1][15]

In 2011, Margolyes recorded a narrative for the album The Devil's Brides by klezmer musician-ethnographer Yale Strom.[16]

It was announced in January 2014 that Margolyes was to record the narration for "Magic in the Skies" – the summer season of firework displays held at Land's End.

In January 2016 Margoyles was a guest on The Graham Norton Show.[17]

Personal life[edit]

Margolyes shortly after being presented with her Australian citizenship certificate by then prime minister, Julia Gillard, during the 2013 National Flag Raising and Citizenship ceremony in Canberra

Margolyes is a lesbian. For more than forty years[1] she has been with her partner Heather Sutherland,[10][18] a retired Australian Professor of Indonesian Studies[19] formerly based in Amsterdam.[20][21] She mentioned her relationships with women on several occasions when she appeared on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in September 2008.[22]

On becoming an Australian citizen,[23] on Australia Day 2013, Margolyes referred to herself as a "dyke" live on national television and in front of the then prime minister, Julia Gillard.

She is a campaigner for a respite care charity, Crossroads.[23]

She appeared on the British television quiz University Challenge in 1963, whilst at Cambridge University. As part of a BBC documentary, University Challenge: The Story so Far, she claimed that during her appearance she swore after getting a question wrong, although the actual word was bleeped out of the recording.[24][25]

Margolyes is a lifelong admirer of the works of Charles Dickens and has performed all over the world a one-woman show, Dickens' Women, in which she plays 23 characters from Dickens' novels.[26]

Margolyes is a Palestinian human rights activist, having been a member of the British-based ENOUGH! coalition that seeks to end the "Israeli occupation of the Gaza Strip and West Bank."[27] She is also a signatory of Jews for Justice for Palestinians.[28]

Margolyes divides her time between homes in London, Tuscany and Robertson, New South Wales.[29]

Author and comedian David Walliams says he used Margolyes as a model for the title character in his children's book Awful Auntie after a rude exchange with the actress during a stage production. He stresses however that he has nothing against Margolyes and is a fan of her work.[30]

TV and filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1965 Theatre 625 Rita 1 episode
1967 Boy Meets Girl Maria 1 episode
1968 Jackanory Storyteller 5 episodes
1968 Dixon of Dock Green Anna 1 episode
1973 Doctor in Charge Doris 1 episode
1974 World of Laughter Various parts TV series
1974 Fall of Eagles Anna Vyrubova TV miniseries
1975 Rime of the Ancient Mariner Dorothy Wordsworth
1975 The Girls of Slender Means Jane Wright TV
1976 Christmas Box TV
1976 Angels June Morris 2 episodes
1976 Kizzy Mrs. Doe 2 episodes
1976 The Glittering Prizes Olive Wise TV miniseries
1976 The Battle of Billy's Pond Tour Guide
1976–1982 Crown Court Marilyn Munro / ... 2 episodes
1977 Play for Today Veronica 1 episode
1977 Spasms Rose Finn TV
1977 Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers Elephant Ethel Notes
1978 Saiyûki TV series
1978 On a Paving Stone Mounted Notes
1980 The Apple Landlady
1980 The Lost Tribe Queenie TV miniseries
1980 The Awakening Dr. Kadira
1980 Tales of the Unexpected Mary Burge 1 episode
1981 Reds Woman writing in notebook uncredited
1981 Take a Letter, Mr. Jones Maria 6 episodes
1981 A Kick Up the Eighties Various roles TV series
1981 The History Man Melissa Tordoroff TV
1982 Crystal Gazing Newsreader
1983 Yentl Sarah Notes
1983 The Black Adder Infanta Maria Escalosa of Spain 1 episode
1983 Scrubbers Jones
1984 Freud Baroness TV mini-series
1984 Electric Dreams Ticket Girl
1985 The Good Father Jane Powell
1985 Oliver Twist Mrs. Corney TV miniseries
1985 Morons from Outer Space Doctor Wallace
1986 Little Shop of Horrors Dental Nurse
1986 The Life and Loves of a She-Devil Nurse Hopkins 1 episode
1986 Blackadder II Lady Whiteadder 1 episode
1986 A Little Princess Miss Amelia TV
1986 Scotch & Wry Various TV
1987 Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story Elsa Maxwell TV
1987 Body Contact Tony's Mother
1988 Little Dorrit Flora Finching
1988 Blackadder's Christmas Carol Queen Victoria TV
1988 Mr Majeika Wilhelmina Worlock TV series, Seasons 1 and 2
1989 Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story Mrs. Rajzman TV
1990 Pacific Heights Realtor
1990 Orpheus Descending Vee Talbot TV
1990 The Finding Poll TV
1990 I Love You to Death Joey's Mother Notes
1990 Old Flames Nellie TV
1990 The Fool Mrs. Bowring Notes
1991 Tonight at 8.30 Mrs. Wadhurst 2 episodes
1991 The Butcher's Wife Gina Notes
1991 Dead Again Lady Uncredited
1992 Stalin Krupskaya TV
1992 As You Like It Audrey
1992 Frannie's Turn Frannie Escobar TV series
1993 The Age of Innocence Mrs. Mingott
1993 The Comic Strip Presents... Mother 1 episode
1993 Ed and His Dead Mother Mabel Chilton
1994 Just William Miss Polliter 1 episode
1994 Immortal Beloved Nanette Streicherová Notes
1994 Moonacre Old Elspeth TV series
1995 Balto Grandma Rosy/Extra Voices
1995 Babe Fly the Female Sheepdog Voice
1995 Cold Comfort Farm Mrs. Beetle TV
1996 Different for Girls Pamela
1996 Romeo + Juliet The Nurse
1996 James and the Giant Peach Aunt Sponge/The Glowworm Voice
1997 The IMAX Nutcracker Sugar Plum
1997 Castle Ghosts of Wales Hag ghost
1997 The Phoenix and the Carpet Cook TV miniseries
1997 The Place of Lions Miss Cole TV
1998 Babe: Pig in the City Fly the Female Sheepdog voice
1998 Vanity Fair Miss Crawley TV miniseries
1998 Rugrats Shirley Finster 1 episode
1998 Mulan The Matchmaker voice
1998 Left Luggage Mrs. Goldman
1998 The First Snow of Winter Sean Seamus Aloysius Dermot Duck
1998 Candy Gisella
1998 Supply & Demand Edna TV miniseries
1999 Magnolia Faye Barringer uncredited
1999 End of Days Mabel
1999 Dreaming of Joseph Lees Signora Caldoni
1999 Sunshine Rose Sonnenschein
2000 Dharma & Greg Chloe 1 episode
2000 House! Beth
2001 Cats & Dogs Sophie the Castle Maid
2001 Not Afraid, Not Afraid
2002 Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Professor Pomona Sprout
2002 Plots with a View Thelma & Selma
2002 Alone Caseworker
2004 Agatha Christie's Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage Mrs. Price-Ridley TV
2004 Being Julia Dolly de Vries
2004 Ladies in Lavender Dorcas
2004 The Life and Death of Peter Sellers Peg Sellers
2004 Modigliani Gertrude Stein
2004 End of the Line Bag Lady
2004 Chasing Liberty Maria
2005 Wallis and Edward Aunt Bessie TV
2005 Inconceivable Malva 1 episode
2006 Jam & Jerusalem Mrs. Midge 1 episode
2006 Happy Feet Mrs. Astrakhan Voice
2006 Flushed Away Rita's Grandma Voice
2006 Sir Billi the Vet Baroness Chantal McToff Voice
2007 The Dukes Aunt Vee
2008 How To Lose Friends and Alienate People Mrs. Kowalski Film
2008 Kingdom Henny 1 episode
2009 The Sarah Jane Adventures Leef Blathereen 2 episodes: The Gift parts 1 and 2, Voice only
2010 Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole Mrs. Plithiver Voice only
2010 Tinga Tinga Tales Giraffe and Squirrel Voice only
2010 Merlin[31] Grunhilda in episode "The Changeling"
2011 Doc Martin Shirley Guest appearance
2011 Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Professor Pomona Sprout
2012 The Wedding Video Patricia
2012 The Guilt Trip Anita
2012–present Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries Aunt Prudence
2013 Hebburn Millie Christmas special
2014 Maya the Bee The Queen Voice
2014 The Legend of Longwood Lady Thyrza
2014 Nina Needs to Go! Nana Sheila Voice
2014 Trollied Rose Series 4
2016 Plebs TBC
2016 Rake TBC
2016 The Real Marigold Hotel Self BBC2 TV Documentary Series


  • The Thief and the Cobbler (1993) – the voice of the Maiden from Mombasa (original version only; the character was never heard at all in the re-edited versions and another actor was never available in all the re-edited versions).
  • The Life and Death of Peter Sellers (2004) – Peg Sellers – note this film was shown in cinemas in the UK and Australia – it aired on cable television on the HBO network in the US.



Awards and nominations[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e Tozer, James (28 September 2008). "My lesbian confession led to mother's stroke says Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes". Daily Mail (London). 
  2. ^ Miriam Margolyes Biography (1941–). Filmreference.com. Retrieved 26 August 2011.
  3. ^ "Harry Potter actress Miriam Margolyes on her Gorbals roots, women in comedy and how Monty Python stars shunned her". The Daily Record. 2 November 2011. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  4. ^ Farndale, Nigel (11 October 2009). "Miriam Margolyes: 'I'm still a naughty schoolgirl at heart'". The Daily Telegraph (London). 
  5. ^ Chitra Ramaswamy (6 August 2012). "As Miriam Margolyes prepares to perform her one-woman show, dedicated to the women in the victorian novelist's fiction, she reflects on her own fascinating life story". The Scotsman. 
  6. ^ Famous alumnae. Newn.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
  7. ^ Footlights Alumni. Footlights.org. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  8. ^ "Enough Rope". http://www.abc.net.au/tv/enoughrope/transcripts/s2045234.htm. 1 October 2007.  Missing or empty |series= (help);
  9. ^ "Margolyes: Voice of a movie star" 31 December 2001, BBC News
  10. ^ a b Leah O'Brien (11 May 2010). "At home with Harry Potter star, Miriam Margolyes – Local News – News – Entertainment". Southern Highland News. Retrieved 21 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Margolyes to Join Broadway's Wicked Jan. 22. Playbill.com. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  12. ^ Brief Encounter With … Miriam Margolyes – Endgame at Duchess Theatre – London – Interviews. Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  13. ^ Jennifer Wolfe (13 December 2013). "Disney Junior Greenlights 'Nina Needs to Go'". Animation World Network. 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Celebrity supporters | Miriam Margolyes. Sense. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  16. ^ Michael Church (15 January 2012). "Album: Yale Strom and Hot Pstromi, The Devil's Brides: Yiddish and Klezmer Song (Arc Music) – Reviews – Music". The Independent. Retrieved 26 January 2012. 
  17. ^ [2]
  18. ^ Property Observer, "Andrew Denton and Jennifer Byrne blaze a trail to Southern Highlands retreat". Retrieved 7 December 2015
  19. ^ 'Sharon Verghis, "Miriam Margolyes: The ultimate character acress for Dickens", 'The Australian, 4 February 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2015
  20. ^ Gabriella Coslovich, "Lunch with Miriam Margolyes", Canberra Times, 7 April 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2015
  21. ^ Jane Cadzow, "Miss Margolyes Mysteries"
  22. ^ Desert Island Discs – 28 September2008 – Miriam Margolyes. BBC. (28 September 2008). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  23. ^ a b Late Night Live – 10September2007 – Miriam Margolyes and Dickens' Women. Abc.net.au (10 September 2007). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
  24. ^ Hellicar, Michael (25 December 2008). "Fingers on Buzzers: As BBC2 devotes a night of homage to University Challenge, why is this eccentric quiz so addictive?". Daily Mail (UK). Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  25. ^ Walker, Tim (26 September 2008). "Why Britain's comedy 'brain drain' is no joke for Ronnie Corbett". The Daily Telegraph (UK). Retrieved 22 May 2009. 
  26. ^ Miriam Margolyes | Dickens' Women. Dickenswomen.com. Retrieved 11 June 2012.
  27. ^ "Emma Thompson bids for Palestinian Rights Enough!" 27 January 2007, Electronic Intifada
  28. ^ "JFJFP Signatories" Jews for Justice for Palestinians Signatory List 11 August 2012
  29. ^ "At home with Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes" 11 May 2010, Southern Highland News
  30. ^ Tim Walker, David Walliams: Miriam Margolyes is the real-life Awful Auntie, The Telegraph, 2 October 2014.
  31. ^ Truitt, Brian (23 June 2010). "'Merlin' star Colin Morgan talks dragons and guest stars". USA Weekend. Retrieved 24 June 2010. 
  32. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56430. p. 11. 31 December 2001. Retrieved 4 August 2008.

External links[edit]