Cherie Lunghi

Cherie Mary Lunghi (born 4 April 1952) is an English film, television, and theatre actress, known for her roles in many British TV dramas. Her international fame stems from her role as Guinevere in the 1981 film Excalibur. Her long list of screen, stage, and TV credits include football manager Gabriella Benson in the 1990s television series The Manageress and a series of advertisements for Kenco coffee. She also competed in the 2008 series of Strictly Come Dancing.[2] She is the mother of the actress Nathalie Lunghi.

Cherie Lunghi
Cherie Mary Lunghi[1]

(1952-04-04) 4 April 1952
Nottingham, England
OccupationActress, dancer
Years active1965–present
Ralph Lawson
(m. 1975; div. 1976)
ChildrenNathalie Lunghi

Early life

Lunghi was born in Nottingham.[3] Her father, Alessandro Lunghi, was Italian.[4]

She was raised by her mother, auntie and grandmother, seeing her father only occasionally. Lunghi has described herself as feeling "different" as she did not have a mother and father like other children.[5] Lunghi attended Richmond Grammar School but has said that she was not academic and far more interested in make believe.[6]


Educated at London's Arts Educational School,[7] Lunghi played Hedvig in The Wild Duck and Alice in Alice in Wonderland on BBC radio while still at school. After graduating from Homerton College, Cambridge and London's Central School of Speech and Drama, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1970s, taking leading roles such as Perdita, Celia, and Viola.[7] In 1981 she landed the role of Guinevere in the film Excalibur.[7]

She starred in the 1982 television serial Praying Mantis, based on the book (Les Mantes Religieuses) by Hubert Monteilhet. The thriller co-starred Pinkas Braun, Carmen du Sautoy, and Jonathan Pryce. In 1985 Lunghi played Michal in King David alongside Edward Woodward and Richard Gere. She also appeared alongside Robert De Niro in The Mission. Lunghi told author Paul Stenning, "It was wonderful working with him, it was extraordinary actually. He transforms right in front of you. You are aware when watching him on screen that he has transformed – he is not Robert De Niro – he is somebody else. I don't think you can learn how to do that; it's just the power of your imagination."[8]

In the mid-1980s, she relocated to Los Angeles for eight years, but returned to England to care for her mother. After the birth of her daughter she took various short-term parts, including playing the band members' mutual love interest in the music video for Level 42's song "Something About You". Lunghi has described how she had been working during pregnancy and was working again three months after giving birth, saying, "it was working mother guilt. I was juggling and balancing, trying to be fair to my career and to my child. Nathalie would come everywhere with me."[9]

Lunghi took on the lead role in football drama The Manageress (1989–90), and participated in the BBC adaptation of Edith Wharton's posthumously published novel, The Buccaneers (1995), as Laura Testvalley. In addition to film and television work, she appeared in a long-running advertising campaign on British television for Kenco coffee from the late 1990s onwards.

In 2006, Lunghi appeared on television in Casualty 1906, playing Matron Eva Luckes, and had a recurring guest role in the regular Casualty series as Professor Camille Windsor. In 2013, she narrated some episodes of the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are?.[10]

Strictly Come Dancing

In 2008, she competed in the sixth series of BBC television's Strictly Come Dancing (14-week run), partnered by James Jordan.[11] After her first dance, the Foxtrot on the Ladies Night in week two, she scored the highest points of the first two weeks (33). She beat this score with another series-best score of 35/40 for the rumba to finish week four atop the remaining 12 contestants with an average score of 34/40. The score for her third dance, the American Smooth, was an impressive 34 to maintain her average, though she slipped to 31/40 for the Paso Doble, and further to 26/40 on her fifth outing, in the Salsa. She returned to form the following week with a Waltz, scoring 36/40, and was joint first on the leaderboard.

She was voted off the competition on 16 November 2008 (week nine), losing by three votes to one in the dance-off against model Lisa Snowdon after performing a Cha-Cha-Cha.[12] In the January/February 2009 Strictly Tour, she danced an American Smooth and a rumba with James Jordan.

Personal life

Lunghi was briefly married to South African student Ralph Lawson after the pair met while studying at London's Central School of Speech and Drama.[4] The 1975 marriage was one of convenience so that Lawson could remain in the UK. The couple never lived together as husband and wife, instead staying in separate homes in Newcastle. Lawson ended up moving back to South Africa two years later to take a new job.[13] She has a daughter, Nathalie Lunghi (b. 1986), with the director Roland Joffé.


Year Title Role
1980 Diversion Erica
1981 Excalibur Guinevere
1985 King David Michal
Lying Still
Parker Jenny Parker
1986 The Mission Carlotta
Letters to an Unknown Lover Helene
1988 Intrigue Adriana
To Kill a Priest Halina
1990 Ransom Claire Stein
1993 Silent Cries / Guests of the Emperor Audrey
1994 Mary Shelley's Frankenstein Baroness Frankenstien (Victor's Mother)
1995 Jack and Sarah Anna
1997 An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn Myrna Smithee
2001 Back to the Secret Garden Lady Mary Craven
2004 Viper in the Fist Miss Chilton
2011 Love's Kitchen Margaret


Year Title Role Notes
1973 The Brontes of Haworth Student
1976 Bill Brand Alex Ferguson
1978 Edward and Mrs. Simpson Lady Thelma Furness
Kean Anna Danby
The Comedy of Errors Ephesus Townsperson
1979 Prince Regent Princess Charlotte
1980 If Winter Comes Csöppi/Ilóna
Tis Pity She's a Whore Annabella
Armchair Thriller Stephanie Episode: "Dead Man's Kit"
1981 Tales of the Unexpected Karen Masterson
The Manhood of Edward Robinson (The Agatha Christie Hour - TV series) Lady Noreen Elliot
1982 Oliver Twist Nancy
Praying Mantis Beatrice Manceau
1983 The Sign of Four Mary Morstan
1984 Strangers and Brothers Margaret Davidson/Eliot
Master of the Game Margaret Van der Merwe
Ellis Island Una Marbury
Much Ado About Nothing Beatrice
Bones Jenny Parker
1985 Vicious Circle
"Something About You" by Level 42 Love interest Music video
1986 Harem Usta
The Monocled Mutineer Dorothy
1987 Coast to Coast Susan
The Lady's Not for Burning Jennet Jourdemayne
1988 The Man Who Lived at the Ritz Lili
1989 The Manageress Gabriella Benson
1990 The Ruth Rendell Mysteries Dinah Sternhold Put on by Cunning
1991 The Strauss Dynasty Jetti
1992 Covington Cross / Charing Cross Lady Elizabeth
1993 A Question of Guilt Helen West
1995 The Buccaneers Laura Testvalley
1996 Strangers Joan Episode 1 of Canadian TV series
The Canterville Ghost Lucille Otis
Moloney Dr. Sarah Bateman
1998 Little White Lies Julia
1999 Hornblower Duchess of Wharfedale/Kitty Cobham Episode: "The Duchess and the Devil"
David Copperfield Mrs Steerforth
2000 A Likeness in Stone Merie Kirschman
2001 EastEnders Jan Sherwood
2002 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Sarah Gordon Episode: "For the Sake of Elena"
Waking The Dead Leah Gold Episode: "Thin Air"
The Seasons Alter Titania
2003 Cutting It Zinnia Raggitt
Midsomer Murders Lillian Webster Episode: "The Green Man"
New Tricks Diane Loveless
2004 The Brief Cleo Steyn
2005 Agatha Christie's Marple Sadie Swettenham Episode: A Murder is Announced
2006 Dalziel & Pascoe Kay Miclean
Casualty 1906 Matron Eva Luckes
2007 Hotel Babylon Mrs. Poldark
2007–2011 The Secret Diary of a Call Girl Stephanie Series regular
2007, 2008 Casualty Camille Windsor
2008 Casualty 1907 Matron Eva Luckes
A Touch of Frost Detective Sergeant Annie Marsh Episode: "Dead End"
Apparitions Woman Episode 6
Strictly Come Dancing Herself
2009 Casualty 1909 Matron Eva Luckes
2011 Lewis Grace Orde
2013 Who Do You Think You Are? Narrator
Pat & Cabbage Cabbage (Jean)
Death in Paradise Jayne Smythe Series 2, Episode 3
2014 Wizards vs Aliens Eva Starling Series 3, Episode 2: "The Quantum Affect"
2016 Midsomer Murders Alexandra Monkford Season 18, Episode 4: "A Dying Art"

Selected stage credits

Year Title Role Notes
1975 Teeth 'n' Smiles Laura
1976 Much Ado About Nothing Hero
1976 The Winter's Tale Perdita
1978 As You Like It Celia
1979 Twelfth Night Viola
1991 The Homecoming Ruth
2000 Passion Play Eleanor


  1. "Cherie Lunghi". Debrett's. Archived from the original on 15 September 2014. Retrieved 15 September 2014.
  2. Midgley, Neil (18 September 2008). "Cherie Lunghi: Strictly Come Dancing". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 11 November 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  3. General Registry Office (GRO) birth records
  4. "Cherie Lunghi: I have 'seduced' so many men". Daily Express. 14 October 2008. Archived from the original on 14 January 2013. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  5. Paul Stenning (November 24, 2013). Success – By Those Who've Made It. Pg.89,90. In Flight Books. ISBN 978-1628475869.
  6. Paul Stenning (November 24, 2013). Success – By Those Who've Made It. Pg.90. In Flight Books. ISBN 978-1628475869.
  7. Butler, Robert (14 November 1993). "Show People: Scoring a different goal: Cherie Lunghi". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 30 January 2012. Retrieved 9 June 2009.
  8. Paul Stenning, (November 24, 2013). Success – By Those Who've Made It. Pgs.94 and 95. In Flight Books. ISBN 978-1628475869.
  9. Paul Stenning (November 24, 2013). Success – By Those Who've Made It. Pg.95. In Flight Books. ISBN 978-1628475869.
  10. Mullin, Cheryl (24 July 2013). "What's on TV tonight: Who Do You Think You Are?, The Café and Love/Hate". Birmingham Mail; Trinity Mirror. Archived from the original on 8 December 2015. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  11. "Strictly Come Dancing stars unveiled". Daily Mirror. 28 August 2008. Archived from the original on 3 February 2009. Retrieved 9 September 2008.
  12. "Cherie No More!". Daily Express. 17 November 2008. Archived from the original on 10 July 2012. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
  13. "Strictly Come Dancing's Cherie Lunghi had sham marriage". Daily Mirror. 11 October 2008. Archived from the original on 2 February 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2008.
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