Geraldine James

Geraldine James, OBE (born 6 July 1950) is an English actress. For her role as Portia in the 1989 Broadway revival of The Merchant of Venice, she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play and won the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Play. She also won the Volpi Cup for Best Actress at the 1989 Venice Film Festival for She's Been Away. Theatre director Peter Hall says James ranks amongst the great English classical actresses.[1]

Geraldine James

Born (1950-07-06) 6 July 1950
Years active1973–present
Joseph Blatchley (m. 1986)

James has been nominated four times for the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress; for Dummy (1977), The Jewel in the Crown (1984), Band of Gold (1995) and The Sins (2000). She is also known as Mrs. Pincher, the breastfeeding mother in Little Britain (2004). Her film credits include Gandhi (1982), The Tall Guy (1989), Sherlock Holmes (2009), Alice in Wonderland (2010), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), and 45 Years (2015). Since 2017, she has starred in the Netflix series Anne with an E and the new Downton Abbey movie as Queen Mary, released in 2019

Early life and family

James was born in Maidenhead, Berkshire, to a cardiologist father.[2][3] She was educated at Downe House, a girls' independent school in Newbury, Berkshire. After graduating from the Drama Centre London in 1973, she began her career in repertory theatre.

Television appearances

Theatre appearances

Radio appearances

21 February 20003 March 2000The HoursGaynor MacfarlaneBBC Radio 4 Woman's Hour Drama
21 March 2003 Baldi: The Book Case Maggie Mark Lambert BBC Radio 4 Afternoon Play
19 April 2003Turtle DiaryNeaeraGaynor MacfarlaneBBC Radio 4 Saturday Play
2005The Raj QuartetMildred LaytonJeremy MortimerBBC Radio 4

Film appearances


Year Nominated work Award Category Result Refs
1977 Dummy BAFTA TV Award Best Actress Nominated [8]
1984 The Jewel in the Crown BAFTA TV Award Best Actress Nominated
1989 She's Been Away Venice Film Festival Volpi Cup for Best Actress Won [9][10]
1990 The Merchant of Venice Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Won
1990 The Merchant of Venice Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
1995 Band of Gold BAFTA TV Award Best Actress Nominated
2000 The Sins BAFTA TV Award Best Actress Nominated



  1. "Geraldine James" (17 December 2001) Woman's Hour, Radio 4, BBC
  2. Geraldine James Film Reference biography
  4. "James, Geraldine (1950–)" (2003) BFI Screenonline
  5. "Hoffman as Shylock: London Critics Cool" (3 June 1989) New York Times
  6. "'Merchant' role is jewel in James' crown" (29 Jan 1990) USA TODAY
  7. Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James Join ‘Downton Abbey’ Movie
  8. "Television | Actress in 1978" BAFTA
  9. "Miss Geraldine James, OBE". Debrett's. Retrieved 21 January 2014.
  10. "Triumph in Venice" (16 Sep 1989) The Guardian
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