Olivia Colman

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Olivia Colman
Olivia Colman at Moet BIFA 2014.jpg
BornSarah Caroline Olivia Colman
(1974-01-30) 30 January 1974 (age 40)
Norwich, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom[1]
EducationHomerton College, Cambridge,
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Spouse(s)Ed Sinclair
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Olivia Colman
Olivia Colman at Moet BIFA 2014.jpg
BornSarah Caroline Olivia Colman
(1974-01-30) 30 January 1974 (age 40)
Norwich, Norfolk, England, United Kingdom[1]
EducationHomerton College, Cambridge,
Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
Spouse(s)Ed Sinclair

Sarah Caroline Olivia Colman (born 30 January 1974)[2] is an English actress. She is a three-time BAFTA TV Award winner.

Colman first came to prominence for her supporting role as Sophie Chapman in the Channel 4 comedy series Peep Show (2003-2010). Her other TV comedy roles include Green Wing (2004-2006), Beautiful People (2008-2009), Rev. (2010-2014) and Twenty Twelve (2011-2012). She also played various roles in That Mitchell and Webb Look (2006-2008), alongside her Peep Show co-stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb. Her move to drama saw her receive critical acclaim for her performance as Hannah in the 2011 film Tyrannosaur.[3] Her other film roles include Carol Thatcher in The Iron Lady (2011), Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother in Hyde Park on Hudson (2012) and Bethan in Locke (2013).

In 2012, she appeared in the BBC One series Accused, for which she won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress. At the same ceremony, she also won Best Female Comedy Performance for Twenty Twelve.[4] In 2013, she starred as DS Ellie Miller in the ITV crime series Broadchurch, which won her the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress.

Personal life[edit]

Colman was born in Norwich, Norfolk, to a nurse mother and a chartered surveyor father.[5][6] Colman was educated at two independent schools, Norwich High School for Girls in Norwich and Gresham's School in Holt, and then at Homerton College, Cambridge, spending a term doing a primary school teacher training course. During this time, at the age of 20,[7] she auditioned for the Footlights and first met future co-stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb, who were vetting applicants.[8][9][10]

In addition to this, Colman met her future husband Ed Sinclair, then a third-year law student who had become disillusioned with law and preferred to write, in a production of Alan Ayckbourn's Table Manners at the Footlights.[11][12] Colman fell in love with Sinclair at first sight, adding that she thought "there's the bloke I'm going to marry"[13] and that "My husband and I were very lucky. We met when we had nothing and we loved each other then. So we were all right. We were 20 and he was also an actor. If you meet at that age then you are fine. For me, it was thunderbolts straight away."[7] Crediting Sinclair for helping her get through tough times,[7] Colman has said that "[Sinclair] was gorgeous, the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen", suggesting that the feeling was not instantly mutual, and added that "I stuck with him and made him realize he could only be happy with me. I still feel like I'm punching above my weight".[14] Colman and Sinclair married,[15] and they have two children.[16]

In August 2014, Colman was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[17]


Television and radio[edit]

Colman has appeared in roles in numerous BBC, ITV and Channel 4 television programmes, such as Bruiser, People Like Us, Look Around You, Black Books, The Office, The Time Of Your Life and provided the voice-over for Five's poll for Britain’s Funniest Comedy Character. She regularly features in BBC Radio 4 comedies, such as Concrete Cow, Think the Unthinkable, The House of Milton Jones and Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency. She is also the voice of Minka, the Polish secretary in the Radio 4 comedy Hut 33, set in a fictional codebreaking hut of the real-life Bletchley Park during World War II.[18] Colman has also appeared alongside former Grange Hill actor Mark Burdis in advertisements for the AA (Automobile Association) in the early 2000s. Colman has worked with the comedians Mitchell & Webb on several projects. Colman met the duo when they were all students at Cambridge University.[19] She has appeared with them in numerous TV and radio series, such as radio's That Mitchell and Webb Sound, and the television version, That Mitchell and Webb Look. She decided to leave the programme after deciding that she was becoming too closely associated with the duo and needed to widen her horizons: a decision that was made "with tears".[20] She continued to appear on Peep Show until 2010.

In October and November 2008, Colman appeared in the BBC sitcom Beautiful People, based on the life of Simon Doonan, as Debbie Doonan, Simon's mother. She also made a guest appearance in Skins, in the third-series episode "Naomi" as Naomi's mother Gina. In 2010, Colman took a leading role as Alex Smallbone, the wife of an inner city vicar, in the BBC sitcom Rev. Also in 2010, she played "Mother" in Matt Smith's debut Doctor Who story.

In spring 2011, Colman appeared in the BBC drama Exile, written by Danny Brocklehurst and starring John Simm and Jim Broadbent. In 2011-12 she played Sally Owen, the love-lorn secretary to Hugh Bonneville's character Ian Fletcher in Twenty Twelve, a successful television comedy series about planning for the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

In 2013, Colman played DS Ellie Miller in the hit ITV drama Broadchurch. This eight-part drama set in the fictional Dorset town of Broadchurch follows the reaction of a tight-knit community when a young boy is killed under suspicious circumstances.[21][22]


Colman's film credits include the British mockumentary film Confetti (in which she plays a naturist with Robert Webb, a role she described as "the worst experience of my life"),[19] Alice in Grow Your Own, Doris Thatcher in Hot Fuzz, and I Could Never Be Your Woman. Colman appeared as 'Bev', alongside Mark Burdis as 'Kev', in a series of television adverts for AA car insurance. She provided voices for the Andrex "be kind to your behind" adverts and Glade fragrance adverts, where her character is a gorilla.

Colman was a leading cast member in Paddy Considine's first two films: Dog Altogether and Tyrannosaur. Colman has worked several times with Considine, having acted together in Hot Fuzz, where they met, and also in Le Donk & Scor-zay-zee.[23] She also acted alongside him in the second The Suspicions of Mr Whicher film in 2013.

Colman played Carol Thatcher in the Academy Award-winning 2011 film The Iron Lady. In her BAFTA acceptance speech for Best Actress, lead actress Meryl Streep thanked Colman and described her as "divinely gifted". In 2012 she was nominated twice in the "Best Actress" category at the British Comedy Awards.[24]

Since 2013, Colman has been a judge on the panel of the Norwich Film Festival.[25]


In January 2011, Colman won a Sundance Film Festival World Cinema Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performances for her role in the film Tyrannosaur.[26] Her performance also received the 2012 Kermode Award for Best Actress.

Colman was recognised for her versatility at the 2013 BAFTAs, receiving awards for Best Supporting Actress for her turn in The Accused and Best Female Comedy Performance in Twenty Twelve.[27]



2004Terkel in TroubleTerkel's motherDub of Danish film
2005ZemanovaloadTV Producer
One DayIan's motherShort film
2007Hot FuzzPC Doris Thatcher
Grow Your OwnAlice
I Could Never Be Your WomanHairdresserDirect-to-DVD release
Dog AltogetherAnitaShort film
2009Le Donk & Scor-zay-zeeOlivia
2011TyrannosaurHannahBritish Independent Film Award for Best Actress
Empire Award for Best Actress
London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year also for The Iron Lady
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Actress in a Motion Picture
ArriettyHomilyEnglish dub
The Iron LadyCarol Thatcher[28]London Film Critics Circle Award for British Actress of the Year also for Tyrannosaur
2012Hyde Park on HudsonQueen Elizabeth (later The Queen Mother)British Independent Film Award for Best Supporting Actress
2013I Give It a YearMarriage Counsellor
Cuban FurySam
Thomas & Friends: Tale of the BraveMarionVoice (UK/US)
2015The LobsterHotel Manager


2000BruiserVarious charactersSix episodes
2001The Mitchell and Webb SituationVarious charactersFive episodes
People Like UsUnnamed characterEpisode 2.1: "The Vicar"
Mr CharityDistressed motherEpisode 1.5: "Nice to Feed You"
Comedy LabLindaDaydream Believers: "Brand New Beamer"
2002Rescue MePaulaEpisode 1.4
Holby CityKim PrebbleEpisode 4.45: "New Hearts, Old Scores"
The OfficeHelenaEpisode 2.6
2003GashVarious charactersThree episodes
Eyes DownMandy FosterEpisode 1.3: "Stars in Their Eyes"
The Strategic Humor InitiativeVarious characters
2003–2010Peep ShowSophie Chapman32 episodes
Nominated - British Comedy Award for Best Comedy Actress (2008)
2004Black BooksTanyaEpisode 3.2: "Elephants and Hens"
Swiss ToniLinda ByronEpisode 2.1: "Troubleshooter"
NY-LONLucyEpisode 1.5: "Something About Family"
Coming UpReceptionistEpisode 2.1: "The Baader Meinhoff Gang Show"
2004–2006Green WingHarriet Schulenburg18 episodes
2005Angell's HellBelinda
Look Around YouPam BachelorSix episodes
HelpUnnamed characterEpisode 1.6
The RobinsonsConnieEpisode 1.3
Murder in SuburbiaEllieEpisode 2.6: "Golden Oldies"
ShakespeaRe-ToldUrsulaEpisode 1.1 "Much Ado About Nothing"
2006–2008That Mitchell and Webb LookVarious characters13 episodes
2007The Grey ManLinda Dodds
The Time of Your LifeAmandaSix episodes
2008Love SoupPennyEpisode 2.2: "Integrated Logistics"
Hancock and JoanMarionTV film
Consuming PassionJanet/Nurse Violetta KissTV film
2008–2009Beautiful PeopleDebbie Doonan12 episodes
2009SkinsGina CampbellEpisode 3.6: "Naomi"
Midsomer MurdersBernice"Small Mercies"
Mister ElevenBethTwo episodes
2010Doctor WhoMother/Prisoner ZeroEpisode 5.1: "The Eleventh Hour"
2010–2014RevAlex Smallbone13 episodes
2011ExileNancy RonstadtThree episodes
2011–2012Twenty TwelveSally OwenEight episodes
BAFTA TV Award for Best Female Comedy Performance (2013) Nominated - (2012)
2012AccusedSueEpidode 2.2: "Mo's Story"
Royal Television Society award for Best Actress[29]
BAFTA TV Award for Best Supporting Actress (2013)
2012Bad Sugar
2013BroadchurchDetective Sergeant Ellie MillerBAFTA TV Award for Best Actress
Pending — Satellite Award for Best Actress – Television Series Drama
Nominated — TV Choice Award for Best Actress
Nominated — Monte-Carlo Television Festival for Outstanding Actress in a Mini-Series
Nominated — National Television Award for Best TV Detective
Nominated — International Emmy Award for Best Actress[30]
2013The Suspicions of Mr Whicher II: The Murder In Angel LaneSusan Spencer
2013The Thirteenth TaleMargaret Lea
2013The Five(ish) Doctors RebootHerself
2014Big BalletNarrator
2014The 7.39Maggie Matthews
2014W1ASally Owens (cameo)
2014The Secrets
2014Mr. SloaneJanet
2014-presentThomas & FriendsMarionVoice (UK/US)


  1. ^ Hamilton, Fiona. "Warning over debt and mental health". The Times (London). 
  2. ^ England and Wales Birth Index 1916–2005
  3. ^ Maloney, Alison. "Ladies in red light up Empire Awards". The Sun (London). 
  4. ^ "Olivia Colman". 
  5. ^ Fitzherbert, Henry (2012-01-02). "Olivia Colman on the fast-track to becoming a national treasure". Express.co.uk. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  6. ^ TV and Radio. "Olivia Colman interview". Telegraph. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  7. ^ a b c Watts, Halina (23 March 2013). "Broadchurch star Olivia Colman says she's lucky not to be a classic beauty". Mirror Online. 
  8. ^ "Maggie, Meryl, and my modest career". The Herald. 29 December 2011. 
  9. ^ "Sarah Dempster talks to Olivia Colman". guardian.co.uk. 18 June 2007. 
  10. ^ Preston, John (30 December 2013). "Olivia Colman: the star of Broadchurch on her new BBC drama". The Telegraph. 
  11. ^ Cooke, Rachel (8 December 2013). "Olivia Colman: "At the Bafta dinner, I said to my husband: Can we go home? I want a cup of tea"". The Observer. 
  12. ^ Curtis, Nick (7 February 2012). "Olivia Colman on winning Best Actress at the Evening Standard Film Awards". London Evening Standard. 
  13. ^ Lockyer, Daphne (4 May 2013). "Broadchurch sensation Olivia Colman: "I'm never cast as the love interest"". Mail Online. 
  14. ^ "Five facts about Broadchurch star Olivia Colman". Hello!. 14 May 2013. 
  15. ^ Graham, Jane (15 May 2013). "Olivia Colman: "I immediately knew I would marry him"". The Big Issue. 
  16. ^ http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1469236/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm
  17. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". theguardian.com. 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  18. ^ Cary, James (3 February 2009). "Starting Writing an Episode". Hut 33 blog. Retrieved on 10 March 2009.
  19. ^ a b Dempster, Sarah (18 June 2007). "Fame is quite scary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2007-07-17. 
  20. ^ "2008 Interview with Olivia Colman — Beautiful People". Entertainment.timesonline.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  21. ^ Villarreal, Yvonne (2 August 2013). "Olivia Colman on 'Broadchurch' coming stateside, 'Doctor Who' rumors". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  22. ^ Maerz, Melissa (15 August 2013). "Broadchurch review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 30 September 2013. 
  23. ^ Matthewman, Scott (30 June 2010). "Olivia Colman: The Stage Podcast #67". The Stage (London). Retrieved 2010-07-30. 
  24. ^ "BBC News — British Comedy Awards: Olivia Colman nominated twice". Bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  25. ^ Freezer, David (1 May 2013). "TV star revisits Norfolk roots for Norwich Film Festival". Eastern Daily Press. 
  26. ^ "2011 Sundance Film Festival Announces Awards | Sundance Institute". Sundance.org. 2011-01-29. Retrieved 2012-12-03. 
  27. ^ "BBC News - Olivia Colman wins two Bafta awards". Bbc.co.uk. 2013-04-09. Retrieved 2013-05-13. 
  28. ^ "Make way for Maggie in the Maxi: Meryl Streep's Iron Lady gives her daughter a driving lesson". Daily Mail (London). 12 February 2011. 
  29. ^ "BBC News — Sean Bean awarded for cross-dressing Accused role". bbc.co.uk. 2013-03-20. Retrieved 2013-03-22. 
  30. ^ Olivia Colman and Utopia up for International Emmys

External links[edit]