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Abigail Thaw was born in London to actor John Thaw and his first wife Sally Alexander, an academic / feminist activist who taught modern history at Goldsmiths College. Her parents divorced in 1968. On her mother's side, she has a half-brother (Daniel), and on her father's side, she has an elder stepsister (Melanie) and a half-sister (Joanna). Her stepmother is actress Sheila Hancock.
After her parents' divorce in 1968, Abigail was raised in Pimlico by her mother and her mother's boyfriend, Gareth Stedman Jones. Her father also kept regular contact. Abigail sporadically attended Pimlico Comprehensive, due to her often marching with her mother; Sally Alexander was involved in the infamous flour-bombing of the 1970 Miss World contest.
She started her career working in rep at Cheltenham, York, Salisbury then performed with the RSC and the Royal Exchange Theatre and Library in Manchester, Chichester, The Tricycle, The Gate, The Finborough, Theatre 503, The Orange Tree, Battersea Arts Centre, New End, The Finborough, Birmingham, Theatre Clywd, Watford and extensive touring in Whipping It Up, Ladies in Lavender and Entertaining Angels. She performed as Ms. Capulet in Tom Morris' Juliet and her Romeo at the Bristol Old Vic She performed Cymbeline with Mark Rylance at The Globe Theatre and Brooklyn Academy of Music. She also spent a year working with Mike Alfred's company, Method and Madness. performing Private Lives, Jude the Obscure and Flesh and Blood. She was nominated for the Best Actress Off West End award in 2011 for The Firewatchers at the Old Red Lion.
She has also worked in Television since 1990 starting with The Bill, Casualty, Pie in the Sky, Peak Practice, Spywatch (bbc Series), Big Bad World, Vanity Fair (1998 TV serial, The Stepfather (mini series), Love Soup, Trust (mini series), Midsomer Murders and Poirrot.
She met her fiancée Nigel Whitmey, at RADA in the mid 1980s. She married him in 1986 and in 1997 she gave birth to a daughter, Molly-Mae Whitmey, and in 2003 to her second daughter, Talia. The family live in Muswell Hill, North London.