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Katherine Jane Parkinson (born 9 March 1978) is an English actress. She has appeared in several television comedy series, including as Jen Barber in Channel 4's The IT Crowd, for which she received a British Comedy Best TV Actress Award in 2009 and 2014, and for which she was nominated twice for the BAFTA Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance, winning once in 2014. Parkinson studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, and has appeared on stage in the plays The Seagull (2007), Cock (2009) and Home, I'm Darling (2018), for which she was nominated for the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Play.
Katherine Jane Parkinson
9 March 1978
|Education||St Hilda's College, Oxford|
London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Additionally, Parkinson was also a main cast member of the series Doc Martin for three series (2005–2009). She co-starred in all three series of Humans, a science-fiction drama on AMC/Channel 4, which aired from 2015 until 2018. She has also appeared in such films as The Boat That Rocked (2009) and The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018).
Parkinson was born in Hounslow, London, to an English mother and Northern Irish father, the historian Alan Parkinson. She grew up in Tolworth and Surbiton, and studied at Tiffin Girls' School before reading classics at St Hilda's College, Oxford. She then studied at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art, although she left before graduating in order to star in the play The Age of Consent, which premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2001.
While working on Doc Martin, she was asked by her LAMDA friend Chris O'Dowd to audition for the comedy series The IT Crowd as the show was having trouble casting a female lead. In an interview with The Independent, Parkinson said that the show‘s creator Graham Linehan originally wanted Jen to be "likeable" but that "I know what he wanted now – he wanted her to be the more normal person people could relate to." The IT Crowd premiered in 2006 and ran for four seasons, ending in 2014. While the character served as a straight man to the two main male characters, Parkinson's performance was well received by critics and audiences, with her being nominated for the BAFTA Television Award for Best Female Comedy Performance in 2011. She went on to win the award in 2014.
She also contributed sketch characters to Katy Brand's ITV2 show Katy Brand's Big Ass Show (2007-2009), having been friends with Brand since their time at university. At the end of 2009, she appeared in the Olivier award winning play Cock at the Royal Court Theatre with Ben Whishaw and Andrew Scott.
She has performed several times on BBC Radio 4, including on Laura Solon: Talking and Not Talking; Mouth Trap, which she also co-wrote with Brand; and The Odd Half Hour. She also featured in television advertisements for Maltesers alongside fellow actress and comedian Amanda Abbington.
Parkinson played Sophie, one of the lead roles along with Mark Heap in BBC Four's three-part comedy series The Great Outdoors (2010). In 2010 and 2011, she appeared in two plays: Season's Greetings at the National Theatre; and as Lady Teazle in The School for Scandal at the Barbican Centre. That same year, she appeared in The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff, which premiered on BBC Two in 2011; and in 2012 she made a guest appearance as Kitty Riley in "The Reichenbach Fall", the second series finale of the series Sherlock.
In 2012 and 2013, she played the roles of Diana in Absent Friends at the Harold Pinter Theatre, and Laura in Before the Party at the Almeida Theatre, respectively. In 2014, Parkinson appeared in "Sardines", the first episode of the anthology series Inside No. 9, alongside Ben Willbond, as well as the miniseries The Honourable Woman, which aired in the UK on BBC Two and in the USA on SundanceTV.
In 2015 she starred in the BBC One comedy series The Kennedys, written by Emma Kennedy about growing up on a Stevenage estate in the 1970s. She also played one of the lead roles in all three series of the British-American science fiction series Humans, which aired on Channel 4 and AMC between 2015 and 2018.
In 2016 Parkinson performed in the stage play Dead Funny at the Vaudeville Theatre. In 2018 and 2019 she performed in Home, I'm Darling, for which she was nominated for an Olivier Award, as well as in Defending the Guilty, a legal sitcom which aired for one series on BBC Two and has subsequently been renewed for a second.
In 2019, Parkinson's debut work as a playwright, Sitting, had its London premiere, following a month-long run at the Edinburgh Fringe. The play was well reviewed, with The Guardian writing "Parkinson delicately reveals connections that, by the end, give the play a wistful emotional weight." Parkinson adapted the play for BBC Four in early 2021.
|2006||Hard to Swallow||Katie|
|2008||Easy Virtue||Marion Whittaker|
|2008||How to Lose Friends & Alienate People||PR Woman|
|2009||The Boat That Rocked||Felicity|
|2009||St. Trinian's 2: The Legend of Fritton's Gold||Physics Teacher|
|2014||Britain Isn't Eating||Marion / Sarah|
|2018||The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society||Isola|
|2019||Radioactive||Emma Jeanne Desfosses|
|2020||Nan: The Movie||Nell|
|Upcoming||How to Fake a War||Kate|
|Upcoming||Paul Dood's Deadly Lunch Break||Clemmie|
|2005||Ahead of the Class||Vicky Foley|
|2005||Casualty||Helen Gibbons||Episode: "The Long Goodbye"|
|2005||Extras||Woman in Queue||Episode: "Ross Kemp and Vinnie Jones"|
|2005–2009||Doc Martin||Pauline Lamb||Series 2-4 & Christmas special|
|The IT Crowd||Jen Barber||British Comedy Award for Best Television Comedy Actress|
Nominated – BAFTA for Best Female Comedy Performance
Winner of BAFTA award Best Female Performance in a Comedy Programme 2014
|2007||Fear, Stress & Anger||Gemma|
|2007||Christmas at the Riviera||Vanessa|
|2007–2009||Katy Brand's Big Ass Show||Various Characters|
|2009||Jonathan Creek||Nicola||Episode: "The Grinning Man"|
|2009||The Old Guys||Amber|
|2010||The Great Outdoors||Sophie|
|2011||Comedy Showcase||Pip||Episode: "Coma Girl"|
|2011||The Bleak Old Shop of Stuff||Conceptiva|
|2012||Sherlock||Kitty Riley||Episode: "The Reichenbach Fall"|
|2013||Love Matters||Jo Pepper||Episode: "Officially Special"|
|2014||The Honourable Woman||Rachel Stein|
|2014||Inside No. 9||Rebecca||Episode: "Sardines"|
|2014||Crackanory||Storyteller||Second Series – Episode 3 "The Crisis Plan"|
Episode: "Which Universe Are We In?"
|2014–2016||In the Club||Kim Hall|
|2015–2018||Humans||Laura Hawkins||Lead role|
|2015||The Kennedys||Brenda Kennedy||Lead role|
|2017||Urban Myths||Ange||Episode: "Bob Dylan: Knockin' on Dave's Door"|
|2018||Hang Ups||Karen Muller|
|2019||Defending the Guilty||Caroline Bratt||Lead role|
|2020||Pandemonium||Rachel Jessop||One-off BBC One comedy|
|2021||Sitting||Mary||TV adaption of Parkinson's 2018 stage play for BBC Four|
|2004||A Certain Smile||Catherine|
|Good Times Role||Patient|
|2008||The Odd Half Hour|
|2008||Mouth Trap||Writer, performer|
|2010||Sarah Millican's Support Group||Kim|
|2011||The Lost Weekend|
|2011||The Drover of Clissold Common|
|2011||The One and Only||Layla|
|2012||Welcome to Our Village, Please Invade Carefully||Katrina|
|2012||Diary of a Nobody||Carrie Pooter|
|2012||The Bat Man||Colette|
|The Lady from the Sea||Bolette|
|2013||Worms Clan Wars||Tara Pinkle||Narrator|
|2014||Worms Battlegrounds||Tara Pinkle||Narrator|
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