Celia Imrie

Celia Diana Savile Imrie (born 15 July 1952)[1][2][3] is a British actress and author. She is known for her work with Victoria Wood, including Victoria Wood as Seen on TV (1985–87), the sitcom Dinnerladies (1998–2000) and Acorn Antiques: The Musical, for which she won the 2006 Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical.

Celia Imrie
Imrie discussing The Happy Hoofer at the Cambridge Union Society in 2011
Celia Diana Savile Imrie

(1952-07-15) 15 July 1952
Guildford, Surrey, England
ResidenceLondon, England
Cowes, Isle of Wight, England
Years active1973–present
ChildrenAngus Imrie

Described in 2003 as "one of the most successful British actresses of recent decades",[4] she is also known for her film roles, including the Bridget Jones film series, Calendar Girls (2003), Nanny McPhee (2005), The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2011), The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (2015), Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again (2018) and Malevolent (2018).

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.[5][6]

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


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 2007 she appeared in St Trinian's.

Television credits include The Nightmare Man, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Casualty, Absolutely Fabulous, The Darling Buds of May and Upstairs, Downstairs.

In the 2000 miniseries of Gormenghast, she played Lady Gertrude. 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 day-trip to Salisbury Cathedral. She starred in the BBC sitcom After You've Gone (2007–08), alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst and in the ITV1 drama Kingdom (2007–09), with Stephen Fry. Her part in After You've Gone has, whilst being critically acclaimed, been described as "criminally squandered".[7]

In 2013, she guest starred in the BBC's Doctor Who where she played the villainous Miss Kizlet in The Bells of Saint John.

In 2005, she received very positive reviews for her US stage debut in Unsuspecting Susan.[8][9] In 2009, she appeared in Plague Over England in the West End, a play about Sir John Gielgud, and received positive reviews for her performance,[10] That same year, she appeared in the world premiere of Robin Soans' Mixed Up North, directed by Max Stafford-Clark.[11] In 2010, she appeared alongside Robin Soans in a production of Sheridan's The Rivals.

Her radio work includes parts in BBC Radio 4's No Commitments 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. Since September 2016 she has starred as Phyllis in the FX series Better Things.

Work with Victoria Wood

Imrie is perhaps best known for her frequent collaborations with Victoria Wood,[12] with whom she 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 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 Acorn Antiques: The Musical!, a West End musical, in 2005 starring most of the original cast. Imrie won an Olivier Award in 2006 for her performance.[13] The character has curly blonde hair, and is known for her frequent parodic flirtations with the customers, and her interactions with the housekeeper Mrs Overall (portrayed by Julie Walters).


Her debut novel Not Quite Nice published by Bloomsbury in 2015, had six weeks in the Sunday Times Top Ten and was cited by The Times as a ‘delicious piece of entertainment’, also reaching number 5 in the Apple ibook chart and 8 in Amazon's book chart.[14] Her second novel Nice Work (If You Can Get It) was published in 2016[15] and her third, Sail Away was published in February 2018.[16] Her next work, A Nice Cup Of Tea, was published in 2019.[17]

  • The Happy Hoofer (2011), Hodder & Stoughton, ISBN 978-1444709278
  • Not Quite Nice (2015), Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-1632860323
  • Nice Work (If You Can Get It) (2016), Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-1408876909
  • Sail Away (2018), Bloomsbury Publishing, ISBN 978-1408883235
  • A Nice Cup of Tea (2019), Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 978-1408883266

Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again

As part of the cast of the 2018 film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, Imrie achieved her first UK Top 40 single alongside Lily James with a cover of the ABBA song "When I Kissed the Teacher", which reached number 40 in August 2018.[18]

Personal life

Imrie lives in London and in Cowes on the Isle of Wight.[19] She has a son, Angus Imrie, with the actor Benjamin Whitrow, but has said that she "hated the idea of marriage", describing it as a "world of cover-up and compromise".[20] 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.[21]

When she was fourteen, she was admitted to the Royal Waterloo 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. She has written that Sargant still features in her nightmares.[22]

She was the guest on Desert Island Discs on BBC Radio 4 on 13 February 2011. In 2013, she was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the University of Winchester.[23]

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.[24]









  1. "Celia Imrie". British Film Institute. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  2. "Interview: Celia Imrie, actress – News". The Scotsman. UK. 4 April 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  3. "Star Profile: Celia Imrie". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 29 August 2003. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  4. Mellor, Rupert (3 May 2003)"She wears it well" The Times London.
  5. "Celia Imrie – Awfully big adventure". Fabulousdames.com. Archived from the original on 4 October 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  6. "Rutland 28". William1.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  7. "Times Online Viewing Guide – After You've Gone". London: Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  8. "What's on Stage – Unsuspecting Susan". Whatsonstage.com. Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  9. Mitchell, Gabrielle (20 June 2005). "Variety Theatre Review – Unsuspecting Susan". Variety. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  10. Koenig, Rhoda (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.
  11. Baluch, Lalayn (6 August 2009). "Imrie to star in world premiere of Mixed Up North". Thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  12. William, Andrew (27 October 2009). "Celia Imrie". Metro UK. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  13. "Past Winners | The Official London Theatre Guide". Officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Archived from the original on 4 February 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
  14. Christie, Janet (2016). "Book review: Nice Work (If You Can Get It) by Celia Imrie". The Scotsman. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  15. "Nice work if you can get it". Kirkus reviews. 20 September 2016. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  16. "Sail Away - Celia Imrie". Kirkus Reviews. 3 April 2018. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  17. "A Nice Cup of Tea- Celia Imrie". Kirkus Reviews. 13 May 2019. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  18. "Official Singles Chart Top 40 | Official Charts Company". www.officialcharts.com. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
  19. "Isle of Wight – Famous Residents". Archived from the original on 12 April 2008. Retrieved 10 June 2008.
  20. Britten, Nick (11 April 2011). "Celia Imrie, the screen matriarch who couldn't bear to be married". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 November 2017.
  21. Lockyer, Daphne (3 June 2013). "Celia Imrie: Love and marriage? Gawd, no". Telegraph. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
  22. Imrie, Celia (2 April 2011). "My electric shock nightmare at the hands of the CIA's evil doctor". Daily Mail. London.
  23. "University celebrates Graduation 2013 at Winchester Cathedral". University of Winchester. 10 October 2013. Archived from the original on 2 February 2017. Retrieved 20 January 2017.
  24. O'Donovan, Gerard (10 October 2012). "Who Do You Think You Are? Celia Imrie, BBC One, review". The Telegraph. Retrieved 19 May 2018.
  25. Celia Imrie Archived 4 November 2007 at the Wayback Machine
  26. Higgins, Charlotte (27 February 2006). "Ballet Billies triumph at the Olivier awards". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 26 June 2019.
  27. "Meet the 2017 Women in Film and Television Award Winners". WFTV. 2 December 2017. Retrieved 17 May 2018.
  28. Lacob, Jace (5 July 2012). "'Inspector Lewis' on PBS's 'Masterpiece Mystery': TV's Smartest Sleuths". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  29. "'Stage productions all years' on official website for Celia Imrie". Celiaimrie.com. Archived from the original on 21 January 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2012.
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