Jump to content

Lindsay Duncan


Recommended Posts

Lindsay Vere Duncan, CBE (born 7 November 1950) is a Scottish stage, television and film actress. On stage she won two Olivier Awards and a Tony Award for her performance in Les Liaisons dangereuses (1985–1986) and Private Lives (2001–2002), and she starred in several plays by Harold Pinter. Her most famous roles on television include: Servilia of the Junii in the HBO/BBC/RAI series Rome (2005–2007), and Adelaide Brooke in the Doctor Who special ‘The Waters of Mars’. On film she voiced the android TC-14 in Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace (1999), and she played Alice's mother in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010). She was awarded a CBE in 1999 for services to drama.

Personal life

Duncan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland in a working class family; her father had served in the army for 21 years before becoming a civil servant. Her parents moved to Leeds, then Birmingham when she was still a child. Duncan attended King Edwards VI High School for Girls of Birmingham through a scholarship. Despite her origins, she speaks with a Received Pronunciation accent. As of 2011, her only role with a Scottish accent is AfterLife (2004).

She is married to fellow Scottish actor Hilton McRae, whom she met in 1985 during the Royal Shakespeare Company's production of Troilus and Cressida. They have one son, Cal McRae, born September 1991. Duncan's father died in a car accident when she was 15. Her mother was affected by Alzheimer's disease and died in 1994; she inspired to Sharman Macdonald the play The Winter Guest (1995), which was later adapted to film by Alan Rickman.

Duncan was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for services to drama in the 2009 Birthday Honours.


Duncan's first contact with theatre was through school productions. She became friends with future playwright Kevin Elyot, who attended the neighbouring King Edward's School for boys, and followed him to Bristol, where he read Drama at University. She did a number of odd jobs while staging her own production of Joe Orton's Funeral Games. She joined London's Central School of Speech and Drama at age 21. She first appeared in two small roles in Molière's Dom Juan at the Hampstead Theatre in 1976. She then spent several years doing rep in East Anglia before joining the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. In 1978 she returned to London in Plenty by David Hare at the National. An early television appearance was in a commercial for Head & Shoulders shampoo. In 1982 she made her first appearance on stage in the United States as Lady Nijo, a 13th century Japanese concubine, in Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, which was reprised at The Public Theater in New York after its creation at the Royal Court in London. She won her first award, an Obie, for her performance. The next year she took her first major role on film in Richard Eyre's Loose Connections with Stephen Rae. At the same time she worked in television productions, including On Approval (1982), Reilly, Ace of Spies (1983) and Dead Head (1985).

In 1985 she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company for the production of Troilus and Cressida, in which she played Helen of Troy. The year after she created the role of the Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, a play by Christopher Hampton after the French novel by Choderlos de Laclos. The play opened at The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon, then transferred at the Ambassadors in the West End, and later on Broadway. For her performance she was nominated for a Tony and won the Olivier Award for Best Actress and a Theatre World Award. She was however replaced by Glenn Close for Dangerous Liaisons, the film adaptation of the play; similarly John Malkovitch was selected for the role of Valmont instead of Duncan's co-star Alan Rickman.

In the 1990 Duncan continued to appear in prestigious London stage and screen productions, such as the 1999 TV version of Oliver Twist, in which she portrays Elizabeth Leeford. Duncan also appears in the 1999 film adaptation of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (in dual roles as the heroine's mother and drug-addicted aunt), in the 1997 TV series A History of Tom Jones: A Foundling as Lady Ballaston, in the 1996 film adaptation of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream as Hippolyta and Titania, and in the 1993 TV serial A Year in Provence as the wife of author Peter Mayle.

Duncan played Servilia Caepionis in the 2005 HBO-BBC series Rome and she starred as Rose Harbinson in Starter for 10. Aged by make-up, she played Lord Longford's wife, Elizabeth, in the TV film Longford. In February 2009, she played the title role in Margaret. In November 2009, Duncan played Adelaide Brooke, companion to the Doctor, in the second of the 2009 Doctor Who specials. Duncan played Alice's mother in Tim Burton's 2010 film Alice in Wonderland, alongside Mia Wasikowska, Johnny Depp and Helena Bonham Carter. From 13 October to 20 November 2010, Duncan starred in Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin alongside her Liaisons dangereuses co-stars Alan Rickman and Fiona Shaw.

She also starred in the original London run of Polly Stenham's play That Face at the Royal Court co-starring Matt Smith and directed by Jeremy Herrin. She did the narration for the Matt Lucas and David Walliams 2010/2011 fly-on-the-wall mockumentary series Come Fly with Me on the BBC.

Duncan will feature in 2012 in four BBC2 productions of historical plays by Shakespeare. She is to play the Duchess of York in the first film, Richard II, with David Suchet as the Duke of York, Patrick Stewart as John of Ghent, et Ben Whishaw as Richard II. She is also to play Queen Annis in the fourth season of BBC1's series Merlin.


1976 Dom Juan, Molière Charlotte/Violetta Hampstead Theatre, London

1976 The Script Hampstead Theatre, London

1976 Zack, Harold Brighouse Sally Teale Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

1976 The Rivals, Sheridan Lucy Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

1976 The Prince of Homburg, Heinrich von Kleist Natalie Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. British premiere of the play.

1977 The Deep Blue Sea, Terence Rattigan Anne Cambridge Arts Theatre

1977 The The Ordeal of Gilbert Pinfold, Ronald Harwood Margaret Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. After a novel by Evelyn Waugh.

1977 What the Butler Saw, Joe Orton Geraldine Barclay Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

1977 The Skin of Our Teeth, Thornton Wilder Gladys Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

1977 Present Laughter, Noel Coward Daphne Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

1977 Twelfth Night, William Shakespeare Viola Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester

1978 Plenty, David Hare Dorcas National Theatre, London

1978 Comings and Goings, Mike Stott Hilary Hampstead Theatre, London

1979 The Recruiting Officer, George Farquhar Sylvia Bristol Old Vic/Ediburgh Festival

1980 Julius Caesar, William Shakespeare Portia Riverside Studios, London

1980 The Provoked Wife, John Vanbrugh Belinda Hampstead Theatre, London

1981 Incident at Tulse Hill, Robert East Rosemary Hampstead Theatre, London. Directed by Harold Pinter.

1982 Top Girls, Caryl Churchill Lady Nijo/Win Royal Court Theatre, Londres then Jo Papps Public Theater, New York

Won an Obie Award.

1984 Progress, Doug Lucie Ronnie Bush Theatre, London

1985-1986 Troilus and Cressida, William Shakespeare Helen Royal Shakespeare Company: Stratford-upon-Avon/Barbican Theatre

1985-1986 Les Liaisons dangereuses, adapted by Christopher Hampton Marquise de Merteuil Royal Shakespeare Company: Ambassadors Theatre, Londres then Music Box Theatre, New York.

Won an Olivier Award and a Theatre World Award; nominated to the Tony Awards.

1985-1986 The Merry Wives of Windsor, William Shakespeare Mistress Ford Royal Shakespeare Company: Stratford-upon-Avon/Barbican Theatre

1988 Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Tennessee Williams Maggie National Theatre, London

Won an Evening Standard Theatre Award

1988 Hedda Gabler, Henrik Ibsen Hedda Gabler Hampstead Theatre, London

1990 Bérénice, Jean Racine Bérénice National Theatre, Londres

1993 Three Hotels, Jon Robin Baitz Barbara Boyle Tricycle Theatre, Londres

1994 The Cryptogram, David Mamet Donny Ambassadors Theatre, Londres

1995 A Midsummer Night's Dream, William Shakespeare Titania/Hippolyta Royal Shakespeare Company: Barbican Theatre, Londres then The Lunt Fontanne, New York, afterwards adapted to film

1996 Ashes to Ashes, Harold Pinter Rebecca Gramercy Theater, New York

1997 The Homecoming, Harold Pinter Ruth National Theatre, London

2000 Celebration/The Room, Harold Pinter Prue/Rose (double bill) Almeida Theatre, London, then the Pinter Festival New York

2001 Mouth to Mouth, Kevin Elyot Laura Albery Theatre, London

Won a Critics' Circle Theatre Award; nominated to a Evening Standard Award

2001 Private Lives, Noel Coward Amanda Prynne Albery Theatre, London, then Broadway

Won the Olivier Award for best actress, the Tony Award for best actress, a Critics' Circle Theatre Award, a Drama Desk Award and a Variety Club Showbusiness Award; nominated to a Evening Standard Award

2007 That Face, Polly Stenham Martha Royal Court Theatre/Duke of York's Theatre

Nominated to the Oliver Award for best actress

2010 John Gabriel Borkman, Henrik Ibsen Ella Rentheim Abbey Theatre, Dublin, then Brooklyn Academy of Music, New York


1977 The New Avengers Television series Jane Episode: "Angels of Death"

1987 Prick Up Your Ears Film Anthea Lahr

1989 Traffik Television miniseries Helen Rosshalde

1990 The Reflecting Skin Film Dolphin Blue Catalonian International Film Festival Award for Best Actress

1991 G.B.H. Television miniseries Barbara Douglas Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress

1993 A Year in Provence Television miniseries Annie Mayle

1994 The Rector's Wife Television miniseries Anna Bouverie

1996 City Hall Film Sydney Pappas

1996 A Midsummer Night's Dream Film Hippolyta / Titania

1999 Shooting the Past Television film Marilyn Truman Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress

Nominated – Royal Television Society Award for Best Actor – Female

1999 An Ideal Husband Film Lady Markby

1999 Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace Film TC-14 Voice

1999 Mansfield Park Film Mrs. Price / Lady Bertram

1999 Oliver Twist Television miniseries Elizabeth Leeford

1999 The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling Television miniseries Lady Bellaston

2001 Perfect Strangers Television film Alice Nominated – British Academy Television Award for Best Actress

2003 AfterLife Film May Brogan 2004 IFF Bratislava Award for Best Actress

2003 Under the Tuscan Sun Film Katherine

2005–2007 Rome Television series Servilia of the Junii

2005–2006 Spooks Television series Angela Wells Episodes: "Diana"; "Gas and Oil, Part One"

2005 Agatha Christie's Poirot Television series Lady Tamplin Episode: "The Mystery of the Blue Train"

2006 Starter for 10 Film Rose Harbinson

2006 Longford Television film Lady Elizabeth Longford

2008 Criminal Justice Television miniseries Alison Slaughter Episodes 3–5

2008 Lost in Austen Television miniseries Lady Catherine de Bourgh Episodes 3 and 4

2009 Margaret Television film Margaret Thatcher Nominated – Scottish BAFTA Award for Best Actress

2009 Doctor Who Television series Adelaide Brooke Episode: "The Waters of Mars"

2010 Alice in Wonderland Film Helen Kingsleigh

2010 Mission 2110 Television series Cybele

2010 Come Fly with Me Television series Narrator

2011 Agatha Christie's Marple Television series Marina Gregg Episode: "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side"

2011 The Sinking of the Laconia Television film Elisabeth Fullwood BBC Productions

2011 Christopher and His Kind Television film Kathleen Isherwood BBC Productions





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...