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Joanna Scanlan (born 27 October 1961) is an English actress and screenwriter. She is known for her roles in British television series, such as The Thick of It (2005–12),[1] Getting On (2009–12), Puppy Love (2014), and No Offence (2015–present). She was nominated for three BAFTA TV Awards for Getting On, including two for Best Writing. Her film appearances include Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003), Notes on a Scandal (2006), The Invisible Woman (2013), and Bridget Jones's Baby (2016).[2]

Joanna Scanlan
Born (1961-10-27) 27 October 1961 (age 58)
OccupationActress, screenwriter
Years active1997–present

Early lifeEdit

Scanlan was born in West Kirby, Wirral. She attended Brigidine convent, Denbigh, New Hall School, Chelmsford and Howell's School Denbigh. The daughter of hoteliers, Michael and Patricia Scanlan, she moved to North Wales with her parents at the age of three, where her parents later bought the Ruthin Castle hotel.[3] She studied history at Queens' College, Cambridge and joined the Cambridge Footlights, where she became friends with Tilda Swinton.[4]


Early careerEdit

After graduation, Scanlan joined the academic staff of Leicester Polytechnic lecturing in drama for five years, before she undertook a similar role at the Arts Council of Great Britain for three years.[5]

After the Arts Council of Great Britain was split in 1994, at age 34 Scanlan decided to try becoming a professional actor, quickly gaining the role as a nurse in ITV1's Peak Practice. This formed some what of a theme in her early career, then playing a midwife in The Other Boleyn Girl with Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, before playing a nurse again alongside Ade Edmondson's doctor in ill-fated Doctors and Nurses, and latterly Dr Diana Dibbs in Doc Martin with Martin Clunes.[6]

The Thick of ItEdit

Scanlan is known for her portrayal of Terri Coverley, the notoriously useless senior press officer for the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship in the British comedy television series The Thick of It from 2005–2012. Set in the corridors of power and spin, the series satirises the inner workings of modern British Government, accurately highlighting the trials and tribulations between politicians, civil servants, advisers and the media. The series was initially broadcast as two short series of three episodes on BBC Four in 2005 before the cast was significantly expanded for two hour-long specials coinciding with Christmas and Gordon Brown's appointment as Prime Minister in 2007. The series received a plethora of awards including Best Situation Comedy from the Royal Television Society in 2006 and 2010, and best sitcom and writing team in the Broadcasting Press Guild Awards in 2006 and 2010.

Getting OnEdit

Among her successes is Scanlan's critically acclaimed dark satirical NHS drama Getting On, which she starred and co-wrote with Jo Brand and Vicki Pepperdine. The series earned her a BAFTA nomination for 'Best Female Performance in a Comedy' and a BAFTA Television Craft nomination for screenwriting in both 2011 and 2013.[7] They were also nominated for 'Best Comedy Screenwriting' at The Royal Television Awards in 2010[8] and 'Best Comedy' at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards in 2011. The comedy series was adapted for an American audience with HBO, with Scanlan onboard as an executive producer to closely work on script development. Scanlan was a guest star in the American version, reprising her role as 'Denise Flixter'. The Emmy nominated show ran for three seasons between 2013–2015.

Puppy LoveEdit

Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine teamed up again to write and star in their BBC Four comedy series Puppy Love, which follows two women at their dog training classes on the Wirral. Under their production company George and George Co., they are currently adapting Puppy Love with HBO for America and have a new sitcom This Land is Ours[9] in development for US Network IFC.

No OffenceEdit

Scanlan plays lead character DI Inspector 'Viv Deering' in Paul Abbott's BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning primetime drama, No Offence, . A cast-iron cop with a tough-love approach to managing her team, Deering and her 'Friday Street Squad' will do everything possible to restore justice to the streets of Manchester. The series features a strong female cast that includes Elaine Cassidy, Alexandra Roach and Sarah Solemani. Series one was awarded Best Drama Series as The Royal Television Society Awards in 2016.

Bridget Jones's BabyEdit

Scanlan returned to the big screen as Cathy in Bridget Jones's Baby. Based on Helen Fielding's 2006 columns, the film fills in the gap between the last film and her subsequent book Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy. Directed by Sharon Maguire (Bridget Jones's Diary), the film finds Bridget unexpectedly expecting.


Other film credits include Scanlan's performance as Charles Dickens’s wife in Ralph Fiennes directed The Invisible Woman, Get Santa, Testament of Youth, In the Loop, The Bad Education Movie, The Other Boleyn Girl, Stardust, Notes on a Scandal and Girl With A Pearl Earring and Kinky Boots.

Additional television credits include Death Comes To Pemberley, Fungus the Bogeyman, Mapp and Lucia, Heading Out, Stella, Doc Martin and Spaced.

On stage, Scanlan has worked with Thea Starrock in her production of Cloud 9 at the Almeida Theatre and Top Girls, with Rufus Norris in Vernon God Little at The Young Vic and featured in Polly Teale's Madame Bovery.

Selected creditsEdit


Year Title Role
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring Tanneke
2005 A Little Trip to Heaven Josie
2005 Kinky Boots Trish
2006 Notes on a Scandal Sue Hodge
2007 Stardust Mormo
2007 Grow Your Own Barbara
2008 The Other Boleyn Girl Mary's Midwife
2009 In the Loop Roz
2011 Hot Hot Hot Mary-Ann
2013 The Invisible Woman Catherine Dickens
2014 Get Santa Ruth
2014 Testament of Youth Aunt Belle
2015 The Bad Education Movie Susan Poulter
2016 How to Talk to Girls at Parties Filming
2016 Bridget Jones' Baby Cathy
2017 Tulip Fever Mrs. Overvalt
2018 Pin Cushion Lyn
2019 How to Build a Girl


Year Title Role
1997 Jane Eyre Bessie
2000 Spaced Tina
2000 Coming Soon Claudia
2001 My Family Dental Assistant
2001 Fun at the Funeral Parlour Mrs Marion Boubes
2005–2012 The Thick of It Terri Coverley
2009 Home Time Mrs Pitman
2009–2012 Getting On Sister Den Flixster
2011 Doc Martin Dr Diana Dibbs
2012 Stella Nancy
2013 Heading Out Toria
2013–14 Big School Mrs Janine Klebb
2013 Death Comes To Pemberley Mrs Reynolds
2014 Puppy Love Nana V
2014 The Killings of Copenhagen Clara Trout
2014 Rev. Jill Mallory
2014 Mapp and Lucia Ursula "Ursy" Pillson
2015– No Offence DI Vivienne Deering
2015 Fungus the Bogeyman Mildrew
2017 Requiem Janice
2017 Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams Su
2018– Hold the Sunset Sandra
2018 The Woman in White Mrs Vesey
2019 The Accident Angela Griffiths
TBA Dracula Mother Superior


  1. ^ BBC Comedy Blog: The Thick of It's Joanna Scanlan on playing Terri
  2. ^ Joanna Scanlan, one of Britain's great comic actors
  3. ^ Womensfilmandtelevisionhistory (7 March 2014). "Joanna Scanlan and the Invisibility of Women".
  4. ^ Saner, Emine (27 January 2014). "Joanna Scanlan: 'Depression was like turning around a liner across the ocean'". Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  5. ^ Veronica Lee (10 February 2013). "Joanna Scanlan: From bumbling Whitehall press officer in The Thick of It to lifestyle coach in Heading Out". The Independent. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  6. ^ "BBC – Press Office – The Thick Of It Joanna Scanlan biography".
  7. ^ "Television Awards Winners in 2010". BAFTA. Archived from the original on 30 May 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  8. ^ "RTS Programme Awards 2009". Royal Television Society. Archived from the original on 22 June 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  9. ^ "Getting On stars create new American sitcom This Land is Ours". British Comedy Guide. 22 April 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2017.

External linksEdit