Helen Victoria Baxendale (born 7 June 1970) is an English actress of stage and television, known for her roles as Rachel Bradley in the British comedy drama Cold Feet (1997–2003) and Emily Waltham in the American sitcom Friends (1998–1999).

Helen Baxendale
Baxendale in 2013
Helen Victoria Baxendale

(1970-06-07) 7 June 1970 (age 54)
  • Actress
  • film producer
Years active1991–present
PartnerDavid L. Williams
Children3; including Nell Williams

Baxendale's early stage credits include The Soldiers at Glasgow's Citizens Theatre, which earned her a 1993 Ian Charleson Award nomination. Her other television credits include Cardiac Arrest (1994–1996), An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1997–1999), Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years (2001), Cuckoo (2012–2019) and Noughts + Crosses (2020).

Early life


Baxendale was born on 7 June 1970 in Pontefract,[1] West Riding of Yorkshire.[2][3] Baxendale's parents were teachers at a comprehensive school. Her sister is the screenwriter Katie Baxendale.[4]

She grew up in Shenstone, Staffordshire, and attended King Edward VI School, Lichfield. She wanted to be a ballet dancer and trained at the Elmhurst School for Dance, until dropping out aged 17 in favour of an acting career. She moved to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, then worked at the Glasgow Citizens' Theatre from 1992 to 1995.





Early television


Via her work at Glasgow Citizens' Theatre, Baxendale was cast in hospital TV series Cardiac Arrest, though it was not her first television role. Her performance as Dr Claire Maitland earned her a Scottish BAFTA nomination in 1995. Her role as Rachel Bradley in the TV series Cold Feet garnered her a British Comedy Award nomination. She starred in An Unsuitable Job for a Woman, playing Cordelia Gray. The Independent stated: "her early roles were defined by icy cool, sleek bobs and ironic detachment."[4]



Aged 27 Baxendale was cast in a recurring role in Friends as Ross Geller's girlfriend, wife and ultimately ex-wife Emily Waltham. She appeared in fourteen episodes throughout Season 4 and early Season 5. Speaking to The Independent in 2022, Baxendale said "I saw those people in Friends, for example, and thought: I don't think that life is really what I want. They were hounded. They weren't able to walk into a supermarket and buy something..." On the attention she received for being in Friends, she said, "This thing… this programme that I happened to be in for a few episodes. The whole thing was bonkers."[4] Director James Burrows said Baxendale "...was nice but not particularly funny. Schwimmer had no one to bounce off. It was like clapping with one hand."[5]

Post Friends


Other notable roles include Lorna Johnson in Truth or Dare alongside John Hannah, Caroline Meagher in The Investigator alongside Laura Fraser, and Julie Matthews in Curt Truninger's Dead by Monday. She was nominated for another Scottish BAFTA in 1997 for her role as Lorna Johnson. Dead by Monday won the Angel Award for Best Film at the Monaco International Film Festival in 2003 and the Portland Festival of World Cinema award for best feature film in 2001. She played Pandora Braithwaite in Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years in 2001 and "Maggie" in the multiple award-winning Bolse Vita. She appeared in Saving Nellie, a physics programme running on Teachers TV. From 2007 to January 2008 she starred in Swimming with Sharks alongside Christian Slater at London's Vaudeville Theatre.[2]

In 2010, Baxendale appeared in the pilot episode of Dirk Gently as Susan Harmison. In January 2011, she co-starred with Trevor Eve in the three-part ITV drama Kidnap and Ransom, filmed on location in South Africa.[6] Later in 2011, she starred as DCI Marion Bettany in Val McDermid's radio crime drama Village SOS.[7] In 2012 she reprised her role in the second episode. She then appeared in the Inspector George Gently episode "The Lost Child" alongside Mark Gatiss. From 2012 to 2019, she starred in Cuckoo as Lorna, the mother in-law of the titular Dale 'Cuckoo' Ashbrick. In 2020 she played housekeeper Meggie McGregor in Noughts + Crosses.



Baxendale starred as Christine in Patrick Marber's After Miss Julie, and in 2005 appeared as Romy, the title role in The Woman Before at the Royal Court alongside Nigel Lindsay, Saskia Reeves, Tom Riley and Georgia Taylor. She played Ophelia in Hamlet (the Marovitz Hamlet) alongside Henry Ian Cusick. She was nominated for an Ian Charleson Award (best classical actor under 30) for her 1993 performance in Soldiers at the Glasgow Citizens Theatre.[8] In 2009 Baxendale played Lara in Amongst Friends alongside Aden Gillett and Emma Cunniffe at Hampstead Theatre.[9]



In 2008, Baxendale guest starred in episode three of the award winning BBC radio comedy Cabin Pressure.[10]

Personal life


Baxendale has been with her boyfriend David L. Williams since her Glasgow days. Together they have three children.[11] Her first pregnancy was written into An Unsuitable Job for a Woman and her second was written into the fourth series of Cold Feet.[11] Baxendale's oldest child is the actress Nell Williams.

Due to Baxendale's first pregnancy, and that she lived in the UK rather than the US, her character was written out of Friends earlier than the writers had originally intended. She appeared in only 14 episodes, despite her character dating, marrying, and divorcing Ross Geller, one of the show's six leads.[11][12]


Film & television
Year Title Role Notes
1993 The Marshal Anita Television film
Euphoric Scale Short film
The Good Guys Miss Lomax Episode: "All for Love"
Casualty Emma Episode: "Give Us This Day"
1994–1996 Cardiac Arrest Dr. Claire Maitland 1994–1996; 27 episodes
— Nominated: BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actress in Television (1995)
1994 Love's Lost Hour Hilary Short film
1995 Dangerfield Tara 'Crystal' Jackson Episode: "The Call Girl"
1996 Crossing the Floor Ruth Clarke Television film
Truth or Dare Lorna Johnston Television film
— Nominated: BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actress in Television (1997)
In Suspicious Circumstances Queen Elizabeth I Episode: "An Evil Business"
Bolse vita Maggie
1997–2001 An Unsuitable Job for a Woman Cordelia Gray 10 episodes
1997–2003 Cold Feet Rachel Bradley 1997 (pilot), 1998–2003 (series); 32 episodes
Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
— Nominated: British Comedy Award for Best TV Comedy Actress (1997)
1997 The Investigator Sgt. Caroline Meagher Television film
I'd Like a Word With You Joan Direct-to-video
Macbeth Lady Macbeth
1998–1999 Friends Emily Waltham recurring; 14 episodes (Seasons 4 and 5)
2000 The Servant Girl Television film
Ordinary Decent Criminal Lisa With Kevin Spacey and Linda Fiorentino
Tales from the Madhouse The Servant Girl Television mini-series; episode: "The Servant Girl"
2001 Adrian Mole: The Cappuccino Years Pandora Braithwaite 6 episodes
Dead by Monday Julie Matthews
2002 Flyfishing Sam
Lost in the Snow Lily Animated film
2003 Skagerrak Stella
Murder in Mind Helen Robbins Episode: "Justice"
2006 The Only Boy for Me Annie Television film
2007 Dead Clever: The Life and Crimes of Julie Bottomley Sarah
2008 Agatha Christie's Miss Marple Mary Dove Episode: "A Pocket Full of Rye"
2009 Lewis Caroline Episode: "Counter Culture Blues"
2010 Dirk Gently Susan Harmison 2010–2012; 2 episodes
Beyond the Pole Becky
Big Mouth Mum Short film
The Rendezvous Voice
2011 Kidnap and Ransom Angela Beddoes 2011–2012; television mini-series; 6 episodes
Anonymous Anne de Vere
2012 Inspector George Gently Frances Groves Episode: "The Lost Child"
2012–2019 Cuckoo Lorna Thompson 33 episodes
2013 Agatha Christie's Poirot Elizabeth Cole Episode: "Curtain: Poirot’s Last Case"
2014 Death in Paradise Sasha Moore Episode: "Death of a Detective"
The Secrets Julie Episode: "The Visitor"
2016 Midsomer Murders Rose Lancaster S18E1: "Habeas Corpus"
2020 Noughts + Crosses Meggie McGregor[13] 6 episodes
2020 Agatha and the Midnight Murders Agatha Christie


  1. ^ Edmonds, Mark (30 September 2012). "Helen Baxendale, actress". The Sunday Times. ISSN 0956-1382. Retrieved 4 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Jarvis, Alica-Azania (10 November 2007). "The 5-minute interview: Helen Baxendale". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 May 2022. Retrieved 26 May 2018. A common misperception of me is...that my birthday is on Valentine's Day. It's on 7 June.
  3. ^ Births, Marriages & Deaths Index of England & Wales, 1916–2005. Volume 2d, page 1778.
  4. ^ a b c "Helen Baxendale: 'Nobody asks me to do sex scenes now, which is a great relief'". 22 April 2022. Retrieved 29 November 2022.
  5. ^ Dicker, Ron (31 August 2023). "'Friends' Director Reveals The Cast Member Who Was 'Not Particularly Funny'". HuffPost. Retrieved 31 August 2023.
  6. ^ Deans, James (8 February 2010). "Trevor Eve to star in ITV1 thriller". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  7. ^ BBC Press Office (4 August 2011). "Network Woman's Hour Drama – Village SOS". Press release. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  8. ^ Fowler, Rebecca. "Triumphant first acts". Sunday Times. 13 March 1994.
  9. ^ Gardner, Lyn (28 May 2009). "Amongst Friends". The Guardian. Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  10. ^ "Cabin Pressure S1E3 - Cremona". British Comedy Guide. Retrieved 3 December 2022.
  11. ^ a b c Laws, Roz (13 April 2009) including actress Nell Williams. "Helen Baxendale gets the balance right after Cold Feet and Friends". Birmingham Post (Trinity Mirror Midlands). Retrieved 26 May 2018.
  12. ^ Bright, Kevin S.; Marta Kauffman; David Crane. (2004). Friends: The Complete Fourth Season DVD audio commentary for "The One with Ross's Wedding". [DVD]. Warner Home Video.
  13. ^ "Meet the cast of BBC One's Noughts and Crosses". Radio Times.