Pauline Quirke

Pauline Quirke
Born Pauline Perpetua Quirke[1]
(1959-07-08) 8 July 1959[1]
Hackney, East London, England
Residence Penn, Buckinghamshire[2]
Occupation Actor
Years active 1967–present
Known for Birds of a Feather (1989–98, 2014—)
Emmerdale (2010–12)
Broadchurch (2013—)
Height 5 ft 6 in (1.68 m)
Spouse(s) Steve Sheen
Children Emily
Charlie (b. 1994)
Website Official website

Pauline Perpetua Quirke (born 8 July 1959) is an English actress, known for her role as Sharon Theodopolopodous in the long-running comedy series Birds of a Feather from 1989 to 1998, and again since 2014. For this role, she won the 1990 British Comedy Award for Best Newcomer. She was nominated for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress for her role in the 1996 BBC miniseries The Sculptress. Her other television credits include Maisie Raine (1998–99), Down to Earth (2000–03), Emmerdale (2010–12) and Broadchurch (2013–).


Quirke began her career as a child actress aged eight with an appearance in Dixon of Dock Green. Another early role was that of an autistic teenager in the 1975 TV drama Jenny Can't Work Any Faster.[3]

By 1976 she had her own TV show, 'Pauline's Quirkes' Thames Television which featured pop music, teenage topics, and comedy sketches. In 1976, she played the lead role in the 'Special Offer' episode of ATV's 'Beasts', by Nigel Kneale, also starring Geoffrey Bateman, Wensley Pithey and Ruth Goring. Quirke also had a small role in the movie The Elephant Man in 1980, with future Emmerdale colleague Lesley Dunlop. Quirke played Veronica in Shine on Harvey Moon, a British television series made by Central Television for ITV from 8 January 1982 to 23 August 1985 and briefly revived in 1995 by Meridian.

Quirke's big break came in 1989, when she began playing the part of Sharon Theodopolopodos in the BBC sitcom Birds of a Feather with Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph. She remained with the series until its end in 1998 after nine series and over 100 episodes.

In 1994, Quirke appeared in the Surf Advert with Linda Robson. In 1996, she starred in the BBC television adaptation of The Sculptress by Minette Walters, receiving much critical acclaim for her performance, including a British Academy TV Award nomination for Best Actress. When Birds of a Feather ended, Quirke began playing DI Maisie Raine in Maisie Raine, a drama series for BBC One, which ran in 1998 and 1999.

From 2000 to 2003, Quirke starred opposite Warren Clarke in the BBC series Down to Earth. She made a return to comedy in 2000 when she starred with Neil Stuke, Robert Daws and Pippa Haywood in BBC sitcom Office Gossip. After a promising start with over six million viewers, the show found its ratings dropped and it was cancelled after only one series. However, Quirke was nominated for Most Popular Comedy Performer at the National Television Awards for her role. In 2002, she starred alongside Nitin Ganatra in Being April, a comedy drama for BBC One. Quirke appeared in Carrie's War in 2004 and in 2005, played a major role in The Bill (a show she claimed she longed to be on saying I must be the only actor in the UK that hasn't been in The Bill!), as Cath Wilson, a woman wrongly convicted of murdering a child.

In 2006, Quirke played Colleen McCabe in The Thieving Headmistress and in 2008, she appeared in an episode of My Family as Sharon the Bank Robber. Quirke has frequently been seen in the audience of Strictly Come Dancing and has appeared on its companion show It Takes Two more than once. She was a contestant on BBC's Celebrity MasterChef in June 2007, but was disqualified for creating a dish that was described by Lloyd Grossman as "in no way resembling a meal".[4]

In 2009 and 2010, she played the lead role in the BBC daytime drama series Missing as DS Mary Jane "MJ" Croft, head of a Missing Persons Unit. In May 2010, it was announced that Quirke would be joining the rural soap opera Emmerdale as Hazel Rhodes, the mother of established character, Jackson Walsh.[5] Quirke said, "I've never done anything like this before so it's something different for me and I'm very happy to be a part of it."[5] On 16 May 2011, it was announced that Quirke had decided to quit Emmerdale. Hazel left on 25 January 2012, and Quirke has since said she would like to return.

Since 2013, Quirke recurs as Susan Wright in ITV drama series Broadchurch. Her pet Labrador, Bailey also appears in the programme.

On 2 January 2014, Quirke returned to play Sharon Theodopolopodos when ITV decided to revive Birds of a Feather. The second series premiered on 26 December 2014 and the third on 7 January 2016.[6]

She has been a guest panellist on Loose Women on two occasions.

In 2015, she played the role of Paula Winton in the ten-part comedy thriller You, Me and the Apocalypse for Sky1.[7]


Year Title Role Refs
1980 The Elephant Man 2nd Whore
1982 The Return of the Soldier girl searching in hospital
1987 Little Dorrit Maggy
1988 Distant Voices, Still Lives Doreen
1989 Getting It Right Muriel Sutton
2001 Arthur's Dyke Janet
2010 The Perfect Burger Mrs. Grieves
1979 Lovely Couple Carole Richards
1982–1983 Angels Vicky Smith
1984–1985, 1995 Shine on Harvey Moon Veronica
Birds of a Feather Sharon Theodopolopodous
1996 The Sculptress Olive Martin
1998–1999 Real Women Mandy Evans
1998–1999 Maisie Raine Maisie Raine
1999 David Copperfield Peggotty
2000–2003 Down to Earth Faith Addis
2001 Office Gossip Jo Thomas
2002 Being April April
2004 North & South Dixon
2006 The Thieving Headmistress Colleen McCabe
2007 Cold Blood Hazel Norton
2009–2010 Missing DS Mary Jane Croft
2010–2012 Emmerdale Hazel Rhodes
2013— Broadchurch Susan Wright [8]
2015 You, Me and the Apocalypse Paula Winton [9]

Awards and nominations

Year Nominated For Award Category Result
1990 Birds of a Feather British Comedy Awards Best TV Comedy Newcomer Won
1990 Best TV Comedy Actress Nominated
1997 The Sculptress BAFTA TV Awards Best Actress Nominated
1997 Birds of a Feather National Television Awards Most Popular Comedy Performer Nominated
1998 Most Popular Actress Nominated
1999 Most Popular Comedy Performer Nominated
2001 Office Gossip Nominated
2002 Down to Earth Most Popular Actress Nominated
2011 Emmerdale The British Soap Awards Best Newcomer Nominated

Personal life

Quirke has two children, Emily and Charlie (who stars as Travis in Birds of a Feather) and is married to producer Steve Sheen;[10] they live in Penn, Buckinghamshire.[2] During an appearance on The Paul O'Grady Show in 2007, Quirke told of how she suffers from severe stage fright and nerves and she usually refuses to appear on live television shows. In 2009, she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and underwent a hip replacement operation.[2]

In 2011, Quirke went on a diet and slimmed down from 19 stone 6 pounds (123 kg) at Christmas 2010 to 13 stone 0 pounds (83 kg) in July 2011, and aimed to get her weight down to 11 stone 0 pounds (70 kg) after being told she was "a big unit" and her health was at risk.[11]

In 2007 The Pauline Quirke Academy opened its doors at various locations around the world. Quirke set this up as an extracurricular centre for young people who want to learn performing arts. There are currently 68 sites.


  1. 1 2 "Pauline Quirke biography". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  2. 1 2 3 Levin, Angela (13 April 2009). "Pauline Quirke: When doctors said I needed a new hip to end my agony, I started to cry". Daily Mail. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  3. Archived November 27, 2007, at the Wayback Machine.
  4. 1 2 Green, Kris (28 May 2010). "Pauline Quirke joins 'Emmerdale'". Digital Spy. Retrieved 28 May 2010.
  5. Eames, Tom. "Birds of a Feather renewed for 12th series by ITV - TV News". Digital Spy. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  6. "You, Me And The Apocalypse - Character Guide - British Comedy Guide". Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  7. "'Broadchurch': The Evolution of Pauline Quirke | Anglophenia". BBC America. 2013-07-31. Retrieved 2014-07-05.
  8. "You, Me and the Apocalypse". 2015-09-09. Retrieved 2015-10-15.
  9. Martland, Lisa. "The Stage Scholarships 2014 - Pauline Quirke Academy of Performing Arts". Retrieved 5 July 2014.
  10. "Light as a feather! How Pauline Quirke shed a third of her body weight". Daily Mail. 12 July 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2011.
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