Celia Imrie

Celia Imrie
Born Celia Diana Savile Imrie
(1952-07-15) 15 July 1952
Guildford, Surrey, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 1973–present
Children Angus (b. 1994)
Website www.celiaimrie.com

Celia Diana Savile Imrie (born 15 July 1952)[1][2] is an English actress. She is known for her appearances with Victoria Wood; including Claire in Pat and Margaret (1994), Philippa Moorcroft in Dinnerladies (1998–2000) and playing various characters in the sketch show Victoria Wood As Seen On TV (1985–87), including Miss Babs in the spoof soap opera sketches Acorn Antiques. She reprised the role of Miss Babs in Acorn Antiques: The Musical! in 2005, and won the Olivier Award for Best Supporting Performance in a Musical.

Imrie's other television roles include Marianne Bellshade in Bergerac (1983), Diana Neal in After You've Gone (2007–08), Gloria Millington in Kingdom (2007–09), and Miss Kizlet in the 2013 Doctor Who season opener The Bells of Saint John. Her film appearances include Highlander (1986), Hilary and Jackie (1998), Bridget Jones's Diary (2001), Calendar Girls (2003), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Imagine Me & You (2005), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2012) and The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015). She has been described as "one of the most successful British actresses of recent decades".[3]

Early life

Imrie was born in 1952 in Guildford, Surrey, the fourth of five children of Diana Elizabeth Blois (née Cator) and David Andrew Imrie, a radiologist. Her father was from Glasgow, Scotland.[4][5]

Imrie was educated at Guildford High School, an independent school for girls in her hometown of Guildford, followed by the Guildford School of Acting.

Life and career

Imrie's varied career spans films, television and radio drama, and the theatre. Her film credits include Nanny McPhee, Hilary and Jackie (playing Iris du Pré) and the 1997 film of The Borrowers where she played Homily Clock. Other films include Bridget Jones's Diary, Calendar Girls, Highlander and, as Fighter Pilot Bravo 5, in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace. In 2004, Imrie played Doctor Imogen Reed in the schoolgirl thriller, Out of Bounds. In 2007 Imrie appeared in St Trinian's.

Television series to feature Imrie include The Nightmare Man, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Casualty, Absolutely Fabulous, "Bergerac",The Darling Buds of May and Upstairs, Downstairs. In the 2000 miniseries of Gormenghast, she played Lady Gertrude. She also had a guest appearance in an episode of the BBC Scotland sitcom Still Game in 2003, where she played a home help called Mrs Begg. She also appeared in the 2005 BBC television drama Mr. Harvey Lights a Candle, playing the part of a teacher taking an unruly party of pupils on a daytrip to Salisbury Cathedral. She starred in the BBC sitcom, After You've Gone, alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst and in the ITV1 drama Kingdom, with Stephen Fry. Her part in After You've Gone has, whilst being critically acclaimed, been described as "criminally squandered".[6] In 2013 she guest starred in the BBC's Doctor Who where she played the villainous Miss Kizlet in the series opener The Bells of Saint John.

In 2005, she received very positive reviews for her US stage debut in Unsuspecting Susan.[7][8] In 2009, Imrie appeared in Plague Over England on the West End, a play about John Gielgud, and received positive reviews for her performance,[9] Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph calling her performance "delicious" and "touchingly sympathetic". In the same year, she appeared in the world premiere of Robin Soans' Mixed Up North, directed by Max Stafford-Clark.[10] In 2010, she appeared alongside Robin Soans in a production of Sheridan's The Rivals. She has appeared with Martin Clunes twice, first in the 2002 John George Haigh biopic A Is For Acid and later in the successful ITV series Doc Martin.

Her radio work includes parts in BBC Radio 4's No Commitments, Adventures of a Black Bag, and Bleak Expectations. In early 2007, she narrated the book Arabella, broadcast over two weeks as the Book at Bedtime.

In May 2016, she made her US television debut in the DC action-adventure series Legends of Tomorrow.

Victoria Wood & Miss Babs

Imrie is perhaps best known for her frequent collaborations with Victoria Wood, with whom she has appeared in TV programmes such as the sitcom Dinnerladies and sketch show Victoria Wood As Seen On TV. It was on the latter show in 1985 that she first played the infamous part of Miss Babs, owner of Acorn Antiques, a parody of the low budget British soap opera Crossroads.

These sketches became such a British institution that the show was turned into a West End musical in 2005 starring most of the original cast (see the picture on the right). Imrie won an Olivier Award for her performance.[11] The character has curly blonde hair, and is known for her frequent parodic flirtations with the customers, and her abuse of the housekeeper Mrs Overall (portrayed by Julie Walters).


Imrie was featured in the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? in October 2012 and discovered that an ancestor on her mother's side was William, Lord Russell, a Whig parliamentarian executed for treason in 1683, after being found guilty of conspiring against King Charles II. William, Lord Russell's grandmother was Lady Frances Howard, who was the central figure in a scandal during the reign of King James I involving the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.

Personal life

Imrie lives in London and in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.[12] She has a son, Angus, by the actor Benjamin Whitrow.[13] Angus appears as her on-screen son in Kingdom and has acted in other productions and is studying drama and performance at the University of Warwick.[14]

When Imrie was fourteen, she was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital suffering from anorexia nervosa. Under the care of controversial psychiatrist William Sargant, she was given electroshock and large doses of the anti-psychotic drug Largactil. Imrie has written that Sargant still features in her nightmares.[15]

Imrie was the guest on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 on 13 February 2011. On 18 October 2013 she was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Winchester.










  1. Published on Monday 4 April 2011 20:18 (4 April 2011). "Interview: Celia Imrie, actress – News". The Scotsman. UK. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  2. "STAR PROFILE Celia Imrie". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 29 August 2003. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  3. Mellor, Rupert (3 May 2003)"She wears it well" The Times, London.
  4. "Celia Imrie – Awfully big adventure". Fabulousdames.com. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  5. "Rutland 28". William1.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  6. "Times Online Viewing Guide – After You've Gone". London: Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  7. "What's on Stage – Unsuspecting Susan". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  8. Mitchell, Gabrielle (20 June 2005). "Variety Theatre Review – Unsuspecting Susan". Variety. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  9. Rhoda Koenig (25 February 2009). "Plague Over England, Duchess Theatre, London; Saturday Night, Jermyn Street Theatre, London – Reviews, Theatre & Dance". The Independent. UK. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  10. Lalayn Baluch (6 August 2009). "Imrie to star in world premiere of Mixed Up North; Published Thursday 6 August 2009 at 15:51 by Lalayn Baluch". Thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  11. "Past Winners | The Official London Theatre Guide". Officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  12. Isle of Wight – Famous Residents
  13. TV and Radio (11 April 2011). "Interview, The Telegraph 11 Apr 2011". London: Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-04.
  14. Imrie, Celia (2 April 2011). "My electric shock nightmare at the hands of the CIA's evil doctor". Daily Mail. London.
  15. Celia Imrie Archived 4 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  16. Celia Imrie wins Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical | Official London Theatre Guide
  17. Jace Lacob (5 July 2012). "'Inspector Lewis' on PBS's 'Masterpiece Mystery': TV's Smartest Sleuths". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  18. "'Stage productions all years' on official website for Celia Imrie". Celiaimrie.com. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012.

External links

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