Celia Imrie

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Celia Imrie
Born(1952-07-15) 15 July 1952 (age 61)
Guildford, Surrey, England, UK
Years active1973–present
ChildrenAngus (b. August 1994)
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Celia Imrie
Born(1952-07-15) 15 July 1952 (age 61)
Guildford, Surrey, England, UK
Years active1973–present
ChildrenAngus (b. August 1994)

Celia Diana Savile Imrie (born 15 July 1952)[1][2] is a British actress. In a career starting in the early 1970s, Imrie has played Marianne Bellshade in Bergerac, Philippa Moorcroft in Dinnerladies, Miss Babs in Acorn Antiques, Diana Neal in After You've Gone and Gloria Millington in Kingdom. She has been described as "one of the most successful British actresses of recent decades".[3]

Early life[edit]

Imrie was born in 1952 in the county town of Guildford in Surrey, the fourth of five children of Diana Elizabeth Blois (née Cator) and David Andrew Imrie, who was a radiologist from Glasgow, Scotland.[4][5]

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

Life and career[edit]

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 2004, Imrie played Doctor Imogen Reed in the schoolgirl thriller, Out of Bounds. She appeared in St Trinian's in 2007 as the Matron, alongside Stephen Fry, Rupert Everett, Colin Firth, Russell Brand and Mischa Barton.

Television series to feature Imrie include The Nightmare Man, Bergerac, Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit, Absolutely Fabulous, The Darling Buds of May and Upstairs, Downstairs. In the 2000 miniseries of Gormenghast, she played Lady Gertrude. She also had a guest appearance in an episode of the BBC Scotland sitcom Still Game in 2003, where she played a home help called Mrs Begg. 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 daytrip to Salisbury Cathedral. She starred in the BBC sitcom, After You've Gone, alongside Nicholas Lyndhurst and in the ITV1 drama Kingdom, with Stephen Fry. Her part in After You've Gone has, whilst being critically acclaimed, been described as "criminally squandered".[6] In 2013 she guest starred in the hit BBC series Doctor Who where she played the villainous Miss Kiszlet in the series opener The Bells of Saint John

In 2005, she received very positive reviews for her US stage debut in Unsuspecting Susan.[7][8] In 2009, Imrie appeared in Plague Over England on the West End, a play about John Gielgud, and received positive reviews for her performance,[9] Charles Spencer of The Daily Telegraph calling her performance "delicious" and "touchingly sympathetic". In the same year, she appeared in the world premiere of Robin Soans' Mixed Up North, directed by Max Stafford-Clark.[10] In 2010, she appeared alongside Robin Soans in a production of Sheridan's The Rivals. She has appeared with Martin Clunes twice, first in the 2002 John George Haigh biopic A Is For Acid and later in the successful ITV series Doc Martin.

Her radio work includes parts in BBC Radio 4's No Commitments, Adventures of a Black Bag, and Bleak Expectations. In early 2007, she narrated the book Arabella, broadcast over two weeks as the Book at Bedtime.

Victoria Wood & Miss Babs[edit]

Celia Imrie as Miss Babs in Acorn Antiques:The Musical!.

Imrie is perhaps best known for her frequent collaborations with Victoria Wood, with whom she has 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 infamous 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 a West End musical in 2005 starring most of the original cast (see the picture on the right). Imrie won an Olivier Award for her performance.[11] The character has curly blonde hair, and is known for her frequent parodic flirtations with the customers, and her abuse of the housekeeper Mrs Overall (portrayed by Julie Walters).

Personal life[edit]

Imrie has a son, Angus, by the actor Benjamin Whitrow.[12] Angus appears as her on-screen son in Kingdom. She lives in London and in Cowes (on the Isle of Wight).[13]

When Celia Imrie was fourteen, she was admitted to St Thomas' Hospital for anorexia nervosa under the controversial psychiatrist William Sargant, where she was given electroshock and large doses of the anti-psychotic drug Largactil. Imrie has written that Sargant still features in her nightmares.[14]

On Friday 18 October 2013, Imrie will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Winchester.


Real life quotes[edit]




  • 1974 – Upstairs, Downstairs: "Missing Believed Killed"
  • 1974 – Upstairs, Downstairs: "If You Were the Only Girl in the World"
  • 1979 – To the Manor Born: "A Touch of Class"
  • 1980 – Shoestring: The "Dangerous Game"
  • 1980 – To the Manor Born: "Vive Le Sport"
  • 1981 – 81 Take 2
  • 1981 – The Nightmare Man
  • 1982 – Bergerac
  • 1982 – Cloud Howe
  • 1985 – Victoria Wood As Seen On TV
  • 1987 – Acting: "Michael Caine on Acting in Film"
  • 1988 – An Audience with Victoria Wood
  • 1988 – The New Statesman: "Alan B'Stard Closes Down the BBC"
  • 1988 – Taggart: "Root of Evil"
  • 1989 – Victoria Wood: "Staying In"
  • 1989 – Victoria Wood: "Val De Ree (Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha)"
  • 1989 – Victoria Wood: "We'd Quite Like to Apologise"
  • 1989 – Murder by Moonlight
  • 1989 – The New Statesman: "May the Best Man Win"
  • 1990 – 102 Boulevard Haussman
  • 1990 – Old Flames
  • 1990 – Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit
  • 1990 – The World of Eddie Weary
  • 1991 – Stay Lucky: "The Food of Love"
  • 1991 – The Darling Buds of May: "When the Green Woods Laugh (Parts 1 & 2)"
  • 1991 – Lovejoy: "The Italian Venus"
  • 1992 – Van der Valk: "Still Waters"
  • 1992 – Victoria Wood's All Day Breakfast
  • 1993 – A Question of Guilt
  • 1993 – The Riff Raff Element
  • 1993 – Bonjour la Classe: "Red Card"
  • 1994 – The Return of the Native
  • 1994 – Pat and Margaret
  • 1994 – A Dark Adapted Eye
  • 1995 - Casualty: Learning Curve
  • 1995 – Absolutely Fabulous: "Jealous"
  • 1996 – The Writing on the Wall
  • 1996 – Blackhearts In Battersea
  • 1997 – Mr. White Goes to Westminster
  • 1997 – The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling
  • 1997 – Wokenwell
  • 1997 – Hospital!
  • 1997 – Into the Blue
  • 1997 – The Canterville Ghost
  • 1998 – dinnerladies
  • 1998 – Duck Patrol: "River Rage"
  • 1999 – A Christmas Carol
  • 1999 – Hilltop Hospital
  • 1999 – Hetty Wainthropp Investigates
  • 2000 – Victoria Wood With All The Trimmings
  • 2000 – Dalziel & Pascoe: "Above the Law"
  • 2000 – Gormenghast
  • 2001 – Victoria Wood's Sketch Show Story
  • 2001 – Station Jim


  • 1982 – Puss In Boots
  • 1982 – Puntila and Matti, Master and Servant
  • 1983 – Sirocco
  • 1983 – The Merchant of Venice
  • 1983 – Custom of the Country
  • 1983 – Arms and the Man
  • 1983 – Webster
  • 1984 – When I Was A Girl I Used To Scream and Shout
  • 1984 – The Merchant of Venice
  • 1984 – Alfie
  • 1985 – The Philanthropist
  • 1985 – Particular Friendships
  • 1986 – Last Waltz
  • 1987 – Yerma
  • 1987 – School For Wives
  • 1988 – The Madwoman of Chaillot
  • 1988 – Doctor Angelus

Imrie appeared as a guest on Desert Island Discs on Radio 4 on 13 February 2011.


Celia Imrie appeared on the BBC genealogy series Who Do You Think You Are? in October 2012. In this programme she found that an ancestor on her mother's side was William, Lord Russell, a Whig parliamentarian who was executed for treason in 1683 after being found guilty of conspiring against King Charles II of England. Further back she is descended from Lady Frances Howard who was the central figure in a scandal during the reign of King James VI and I involving the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury.


  1. ^ Published on Monday 4 April 2011 20:18 (4 April 2011). "Interview: Celia Imrie, actress – News". The Scotsman. UK. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  2. ^ "STAR PROFILE Celia Imrie". Pqasb.pqarchiver.com. 29 August 2003. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  3. ^ Mellor, Rupert (3 May 2003)"She wears it well" The Times, London.
  4. ^ "Celia Imrie – Awfully big adventure". Fabulousdames.com. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  5. ^ "Rutland 28". William1.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  6. ^ Post. "Times Online Viewing Guide – After You've Gone". London: Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  7. ^ "What's on Stage – Unsuspecting Susan". Whatsonstage.com. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  8. ^ Mitchell, Gabrielle (20 June 2005). "Variety Theatre Review – Unsuspecting Susan". Variety. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  9. ^ Reviewed by Rhoda Koenig (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. 
  10. ^ Lalayn Baluch (6 August 2009). "Imrie to star in world premiere of Mixed Up North; Published Thursday 6 August 2009 at 15:51 by Lalayn Baluch". Thestage.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Past Winners | The Official London Theatre Guide". Officiallondontheatre.co.uk. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  12. ^ TV and Radio. "Interview, The Telegraph 11 Apr 2011". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-07-04. 
  13. ^ Isle of Wight – Famous Residents
  14. ^ My electric shock nightmare at the hands of the CIA's evil doctor by Calendar Girls star Celia Imrie | Mail Online
  15. ^ Celia Imrie[dead link]
  16. ^ Celia Imrie wins Best Performance in a Supporting Role in a Musical | Official London Theatre Guide[dead link]
  17. ^ "Celia Imrie opens a village fete whilst filming ''Kingdom'' with Stephen Fry". New.edp24.co.uk. 29 June 2011. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  18. ^ Jace Lacob (July 5, 2012). "'Inspector Lewis' on PBS's 'Masterpiece Mystery': TV's Smartest Sleuths". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 9, 2012. 
  19. ^ ""Stage productions all years" on official website for Celia Imrie". Celiaimrie.com. Retrieved 24 January 2012. 
  20. ^ Singular Women, King's Head | Official London Theatre Guide[dead link]

External links[edit]