Miriam Margolyes, OBE (/ˈmɑːrɡəliːz/; born 18 May 1941) is an
English-Australian actress and voice artist. Her earliest roles were
in theatre and after several supporting roles in film and television
she won a
for her role in The Age of Innocence (1993) and
went on to take the role of Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter film
For many years she has divided her time between England 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. In 2013,
she became an Australian citizen, thereby holding dual British and
1 Early life
2 Acting career
3 Other work
4 Personal life
5 TV and filmography
7 Awards and nominations
9 External links
Margolyes was born in Oxford, England, on 18 May 1941, the only
child of Ruth (née Walters; 1905–1974), a property investor and
developer, and Joseph Margolyes (1899–1995), a physician from
Glasgow. She grew up in a
Jewish family; 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 Newnham College, Cambridge, where she read English.
There, in her twenties, she began acting and appeared in productions
Cambridge Footlights comedy troupe.
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. In the 1970s she recorded a soft-porn audio
called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook. 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).
In 1974, she appeared with
Kenneth Williams and Ted Ray in the BBC
Radio 2 comedy series The Betty Witherspoon Show.
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
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
In 1989, Margolyes co-wrote and performed a one-woman show, Dickens'
Women, in which she played 23 characters from Dickens' novels.
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
Romeo + Juliet (1996). Around this
time, she voiced the rabbit character in the animated commercials for
Cadbury's Caramel bars and provided the voice of Fly the dog in
the Australian-American family film
She played Professor Sprout in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
In 2004, Margolyes played the role of Peg Sellers, the mother of Peter
Sellers, in the Golden Globe winning film The Life and Death of Peter
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.
In 2009, she appeared in a new production of Endgame by Samuel Beckett
Duchess Theatre in London's West End.
Margolyes voiced the role of Mrs. Plithiver, a blind snake in
3D-animated-epic film Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole in
2010. Margolyes reprised her role as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter
and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 in 2011.
She plays recurring character Prudence Stanley in the Australian-based
TV series Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries.
In 2014, she voiced Nana in the
Disney Junior animated series for
preschoolers Nina Needs to Go!
In January 2016, she appeared in The Real Marigold Hotel, a travel
documentary in which a group of eight celebrities travel to India to
see whether retirement would be more rewarding there than in the
UK. The series was reprised for two Christmas Specials The Real
Marigold On Tour, from
Florida and Kyoto. She narrated the 2016
ITV documentary about
Lady Colin Campbell entitled Lady C and the
In December 2017, she appeared in the second season of The Real
Marigold On Tour to
Chengdu and Havana.
In January 2018, Margolyes hosted a 3-part series for the
Miriam's Big American Adventure, highlighting the citizens of the USA
and the issues facing the nation.
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
Charles Dickens Museum in London in December 2006,
where she read a number of works written by talented deafblind
In 2011, Margolyes recorded a narrative for the album The Devil's
Brides by klezmer musician-ethnographer Yale Strom.
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. On becoming an Australian citizen, on
Australia Day 2013, Margolyes referred to herself as a "dyke" live on
national television and in front of the then prime minister, Julia
Since 1967, her partner has been Heather Sutherland, a retired
Australian Professor of Indonesian Studies. Formerly based in
Amsterdam, Margolyes divides her time between homes in London, Tuscany
and Robertson, New South Wales.
Margolyes is a humanitarian advocate. She is a Palestinian
human-rights activist, having been a member of the British-based
ENOUGH! coalition that seeks "a just settlement between Israelis and
Palestinians". She is also a signatory of Jews for Justice for
Palestinians. Margolyes is a campaigner for a respite care
charity, Crossroads. In August 2015, she was a signatory to a
letter criticising The
Jewish Chronicle's reporting of Jeremy Corbyn's
association with alleged antisemites.
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
that he has nothing against Margolyes and is a fan of her work.
TV and filmography
1 episode ("Enter Solly Gold")
Boy Meets Girl
Dixon of Dock Green
Doctor in Charge
World of Laughter
Fall of Eagles
Rime of the Ancient Mariner
The Girls of Slender Means
Maurie Kaplan's Mother
The Glittering Prizes
The Battle of Billy's Pond
Marilyn Munro (1976)
Mrs King (1982)
Play for Today
Stand Up, Virgin Soldiers
English dub of Japanese TV series Saiyûki
On a Paving Stone Mounted
The Lost Tribe
Tales of the Unexpected
Woman writing in notebook
Take a Letter, Mr. Jones
A Kick Up the Eighties
The History Man
The Black Adder
Infanta Maria Escalosa of Spain
The Good Father
Morons from Outer Space
Little Shop of Horrors
The Life and Loves of a She-Devil
A Little Princess
Scotch and Wry
Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story
Blackadder's Christmas Carol
TV series, Seasons 1 and 2
Murderers Among Us: The Simon Wiesenthal Story
I Love You to Death
Tonight at 8.30
The Butcher's Wife
As You Like It
The Age of Innocence
The Comic Strip Presents...
Ed and His Dead Mother
Grandma Rosy/Extra Voices
Fly the Female Sheepdog (voice)
Cold Comfort Farm
Different for Girls
Romeo + Juliet
James and the Giant Peach
Aunt Sponge/The Glowworm (voice)
The IMAX Nutcracker
Castle Ghosts of Wales
The Phoenix and the Carpet
The Place of Lions
Babe: Pig in the City
Fly the Female Sheepdog (voice)
The Matchmaker (voice)
The First Snow of Winter
Sean Seamus Aloysius Dermot Duck (voice)
Supply & Demand
End of Days
Dreaming of Joseph Lees
Dharma & Greg
Cats & Dogs
Sophie the Castle Maid
Not Afraid, Not Afraid
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Professor Pomona Sprout
Plots with a View
Thelma & Selma
Agatha Christie's Marple: The Murder at the Vicarage
Dolly de Vries
Ladies in Lavender
The Life and Death of Peter Sellers
End of the Line
Wallis & Edward
Dickens in America
Jam & Jerusalem
Mrs Astrakhan (Voice)
Rita's Grandma (Voice)
Sir Billi the Vet
Baroness Chantal McToff (voice)
How To Lose Friends and Alienate People
The Sarah Jane Adventures
2 episodes: The Gift parts 1 and 2, Voice only
Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga'Hoole
Mrs Plithiver (voice)
Tinga Tinga Tales
Giraffe and Squirrel (voice)
Episode: "The Changeling"
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2
Professor Pomona Sprout
The Wedding Video
The Guilt Trip
Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries
Maya the Bee
The Queen (voice)
The Legend of Longwood
Nina Needs to Go!
Nana Sheila (voice)
Episode: "The Cupid"
The Real Marigold Hotel
BBC TV Documentary Series
Lady C and the Castle
Matron, Medicine and Me: 70 Years of the NHS
TV Documentary Series
Bottersnikes and Gumbles
The Man Who Invented Christmas
Maggie Smith's Right Eyeball
Episode: "Emmy-Winning Episode"
The Little Vampire 3D
Miriam's Big American Adventure
BBC TV Documentary Series
Queen Oofeefa (voice)
Postcards from the 48%
The Thief and the Cobbler
The Thief and the Cobbler (1993) – the voice of the Maiden from
Mombasa (original version only; the character was not 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
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.
Madame Rubinstein (Helena Rubinstein) – The Park Theatre, London
The Importance of Being Miriam – Australian Tour (2015)
I'll Eat You Last
I'll Eat You Last (Sue Mengers) – Melbourne Theatre Company (2014)
Neighbourhood Watch (Ana) – Adelaide State Theatre (2014)
Dickens' Women – World Tour (Australia/New Zealand/UK/USA/Canada)
A Day in the Death of Joe Egg (Grace) – Citizens' Theatre, Glasgow
Me and My Girl
Me and My Girl (The Duchess) – Crucible Theatre, Sheffield (2010)
Endgame (Nell) – Duchess Theatre, London (2009)
Realism – Melbourne Theatre Company (2009)
Wicked (Madame Morrible) – George Gershwin Theater, New York (2008)
Wicked (Madame Morrible) – Apollo Victoria Theatre, London (2006)
The Importance of Being Earnest
The Importance of Being Earnest (Miss Prism) – Ahmanson Theater, Los
Angeles/Harvey Theater, New York (2006)
Blithe Spirit (Madame Arcati) – Melbourne Theatre Company (2004)
The Way of the World
The Way of the World (Lady Wishfort) – Sydney Theatre Company (2003)
The Vagina Monologues
The Vagina Monologues – Arts Theatre, London (2001)
Romeo and Juliet
Romeo and Juliet (Nurse) – Ahmanson Theater, Los Angeles (2001)
The Cherry Orchard
The Cherry Orchard (Madame Ranevskaya) – Theatre Royal, York (1999)
The Killing of Sister George (June Buckridge) – Ambassadors'
Theatre, London (1995)
She Stoops to Conquer
She Stoops to Conquer (Mrs Hardcastle) – Queen's Theatre, London
Dickens' Women – Edinburgh Festival (1989)/Hampstead Theatre and
Duke of York's Theatre, London (1991)
Orpheus Descending (Vee Talbot) – Haymarket Theatre, London (1988)
Man Equals Man (Widow Begbick) – Almeida Theatre, London (1987)
Gertrude Stein and a Companion (Gertrude Stein) – International Tour
84 Charing Cross Road
84 Charing Cross Road (Helen Hanff) – Colchester (1984)
Flaming Bodies (Psychiatrist) – ICA (1979)
Cloud Nine – Royal Court/Joint Stock Tour (1978)
The White Devil
The White Devil – Old Vic Theatre, London (1976)
Kennedy's Children – Arts Theatre, London (1975)
Canterbury Tales (Wife of Bath) – Bristol Old Vic (1974)
Threepenny Opera – Piccadilly Theatre, London (1972)
Fiddler on the Roof
Fiddler on the Roof (Matchmaker) – UK Tour (1970)
Awards and nominations
Officer of the Order of the British Empire
Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) for Services to
Winner: Theatregoer's Choice Awards 2007 Best Supporting Actress in a
Musical for Madam Morrible in Wicked
Winner: Audiofile's Earphones Award 2001 for A Christmas Carol
Winner: Prix Jeunesse Best Children's Programme (0–6 fiction) 2000
for The First Snow of Winter
Winner: The Talkies Performer Of The Year 1997 for Oliver Twist
Winner: Sony Radio Awards Best Actress On Radio 1993 for The Queen and
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role 1993 for The
Age of Innocence
Olivier Award for Best Entertainment 1991 for Dickens'
Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle 1989 Best Supporting Actress
Little Dorrit (shared with Geneviève Bujold)
^ Margolyes, Miriam. "Miriam Margolyes » Bio". Miriam Margolyes'
^ Empire. "Miriam Margolyes". Empire. Retrieved 13 November
Miriam Margolyes Biography (1941–). Filmreference.com. Retrieved
26 August 2011.
^ "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.
^ Farndale, Nigel (11 October 2009). "Miriam Margolyes: 'I'm still a
naughty schoolgirl at heart'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
^ 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".
^ Famous alumnae. Newn.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
^ Footlights Alumni Archived 14 August 2011 at the Wayback Machine..
Footlights.org. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
^ "Enough Rope". Retrieved 5 January 2011.
^ Helen Sims (30 November 2007). "
Miriam Margolyes on Dickens' Women".
The Lumière Reader. Archived from the original on 2008-04-23.
^ "Margolyes: Voice of a movie star" 31 December 2001,
^ 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.
^ Margolyes to Join Broadway's Wicked Jan. 22. Playbill.com. Retrieved
11 June 2012.
^ Brief Encounter With …
Miriam Margolyes – Endgame at Duchess
Theatre – London – Interviews. Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 11 June
^ Jennifer Wolfe (13 December 2013). "
Disney Junior Greenlights 'Nina
Needs to Go'". Animation World Network.
^ 02:10. "
BBC Two - The Real Marigold Hotel". BBC. Retrieved 20
^ "The Real Marigold on Tour -
BBC Two". BBC.
^ ""Lady C and the Castle"". Archived from the original on 16
September 2016. Retrieved 13 November 2017.
^ "The Real Marigold on Tour gets a "bumper" BBC1 run". RadioTimes. 24
August 2017. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
^ "Miriam's Big American Adventure -
BBC One". BBC. Retrieved 28
^ Celebrity supporters
Miriam Margolyes Archived 23 October 2008 at
Archive.is. Sense. Retrieved 25 August 2011.
^ 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.
^ Desert Island Discs – 28 September 2008 – Miriam Margolyes. BBC.
(28 September 2008). Retrieved 25 August 2011.
^ a b Late Night Live – 10September2007 –
Miriam Margolyes and
Dickens' Women. Abc.net.au (10 September 2007). Retrieved 25 August
^ Property Observer, "Andrew Denton and Jennifer Byrne blaze a trail
to Southern Highlands retreat". Retrieved 7 December 2015
^ 'Sharon Verghis, "Miriam Margolyes: The ultimate character acress
for Dickens", 'The Australian, 4 February 2012. Retrieved 7 December
^ Gabriella Coslovich, "Lunch with Miriam Margolyes", Canberra Times,
7 April 2012. Retrieved 7 December 2015
^ Jane Cadzow, "Miss Margolyes Mysteries"
^ Lyell, Carrie (09 February 2016). "Miriam Margolyes: My Mother Was
Utterly Appalled When I Came Out" Archived 3 August 2016 at the
Wayback Machine., Diva Magazine. UK. Retrieved on 05 Aug 2016.
^ "At home with Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes" 11 May 2010,
Southern Highland News
^ "Emma Thompson bids for Palestinian Rights Enough!" 27 January 2007,
^ "JFJFP Signatories"
Jews for Justice for Palestinians
Jews for Justice for Palestinians Signatory List
11 August 2012
^ Dysch, Marcus (18 August 2015).
"Anti-Israel activists attack JC for challenging Jeremy Corbyn"] Check
url= value (help). The
Jewish Chronicle. Retrieved 7 April
^ Tim Walker, David Walliams:
Miriam Margolyes is the real-life Awful
Auntie, The Telegraph, 2 October 2014.
^ Truitt, Brian (23 June 2010). "'Merlin' star Colin Morgan talks
dragons and guest stars". USA Weekend. Archived from the original on 7
August 2012. Retrieved 24 June 2010.
^ "No. 56430".
The London Gazette
The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2001.
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Miriam Margolyes.
Miriam Margolyes on
Miriam Margolyes at the British Film Institute's Screenonline
Dickens' Women tour site
Miriam Margolyes at Women in Comedy
BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role
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