Lindsay Vere Duncan, CBE (born 7 November 1950) is a Scottish actress. On stage, she has won two Olivier Awards, a Tony Award for her performance in Private Lives and a Tony Award nomination for her role in Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Duncan has starred in several plays by Harold Pinter. Her best known roles on television include: Barbara Douglas in Alan Bleasdale's G.B.H. (1991), Servilia of the Junii in the HBO/BBC/RAI series Rome (2005–2007), Adelaide Brooke in the Doctor Who special "The Waters of Mars" (2009) and Lady Smallwood in the BBC series Sherlock. On film, she portrayed Anthea Lahr in Prick Up Your Ears (1987), voiced the android TC-14 in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) and Alice's mother in Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland (2010), and played the acerbic theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson in Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance) (2014).
Duncan after a performance of John Gabriel Borkman at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, 2011
Lindsay Vere Duncan
7 November 1950
|Residence||North London, England|
Duncan was born in Edinburgh, Scotland, into a working-class family; her father had served in the British 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 Edward VI High School for Girls in 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 (2003).
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 Sharman Macdonald to write the play The Winter Guest (1995), which was later adapted as a film by Alan Rickman.
Duncan's first contact with theatre was through school productions. She became friends with the 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.
Duncan joined London's Central School of Speech and Drama at the age of 21. After her training, she started out in summer weekly rep in Southwold to gain her Equity card. She appeared in two small roles in Molière's Don Juan at the Hampstead Theatre in 1976, and she joined the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester when it opened. She performed in the very first productions at the Royal Exchange and appeared in eight plays in Manchester in the next two years. In 1978 she returned to London in Plenty by David Hare at the National. She appeared on the television in small roles in a special episode of Up Pompeii!, in The New Avengers, and a commercial for Head & Shoulders shampoo. She made her breakthrough on Top Girls by Caryl Churchill, staged at the Royal Court in London and later transferred to the Public Theater in New York: her performance as Lady Nijo, a 13th-century Japanese concubine, won her an Obie, her first award. Next year she took her first major role on film in Richard Eyre's Loose Connections with Stephen Rea. At the same time her television work included a filmed version of Frederick Lonsdale's 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. In September she created the role of the Marquise de Merteuil in Les Liaisons Dangereuses, the play by Christopher Hampton after the French novel by Choderlos de Laclos. The play opened at The Other Place in Stratford-upon-Avon. On 8 January 1986, the production transferred to the 200-seat theatre The Pit in London's Barbican Centre, with its original cast intact. In October of the same year, the production moved to the Ambassadors in the West End. In April 1987, the cast, including Duncan, took the play to 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 replaced by Glenn Close for Dangerous Liaisons — Stephen Frears's film of the play; similarly John Malkovich was selected for the role of Valmont instead of Duncan's co-star Alan Rickman.
In 1988, Duncan won an Evening Standard Award for her role of Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams. At the same time, she became a regular in the plays of Harold Pinter and the television work of Alan Bleasdale and Stephen Poliakoff. She performed for a second season with the RSC in 1994–1995, in A Midsummer Night's Dream in which she played the double role of Hippolyta and Titania, replacing Stella Gonet from the original production cast. She went on tour in the United States with the rest of the cast, but back and neck pains forced her to in turn be replaced by Emily Button from January to March 1997. Impressed by her performance in David Mamet's The Cryptogram (1994), Al Pacino asked Duncan to play the role of his wife in City Hall (1996) by Harold Becker.
To please her young son, a Star Wars fan, Duncan applied for the role of Anakin Skywalker's mother in Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999) but was not cast; she finally accepted to voice an android TC-14. She reunited with Alan Rickman in a revival of Noël Coward's Private Lives (2001–02) and won a Tony Award for Best Actress and a second Olivier Award for her performance as Amanda Prynne; she was also nominated the same year for her role in Mouth To Mouth by Kevin Elyot.
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 British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher 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. 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. In October–November 2010, Duncan starred in a new version by Frank McGuinness of Ibsen's John Gabriel Borkman at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin alongside her Liaisons dangereuses co-stars Alan Rickman and Fiona Shaw. The production transferred in January–February 2011 to the Brooklyn Academy of Music.
Alan Bleasdale asked for Duncan to feature in his first work for television after ten years of absence, The Sinking of the Laconia, aired on January 2011; she plays an upper-class passenger in the two-part drama based on a true story of World War II. She also played the mother of Matt Smith in the telefilm Christopher and His Kind written by Kevin Elyot after Christopher Isherwood's autobiography of the same title. In October–November 2011, Duncan read extracts of the King James Bible at the National Theatre, London as part of the 400th anniversary celebrations of the translation. She played Queen Annis, ruler of Caerleon and antagonist of Merlin, in the 5th episode of the fourth series of BBC1's Merlin. She also appeared as Home Secretary Alex Cairns to Rory Kinnear's Prime Minister in "The National Anthem", the first episode of Charlie Brooker's anthology series Black Mirror.
Duncan started 2012 as a guest in the New Year special of Absolutely Fabulous, playing the part of Saffy's favourite film actress, 'Jeanne Durand'. In February, she returned to the West End in Noël Coward's Hay Fever with Kevin McNally, Jeremy Northam and Olivia Colman, once again under the direction of Howard Davies. Later in 2012, Duncan featured in BBC2's productions of Shakespeare's history plays. She played the Duchess of York in the first film, Richard II, with David Suchet as the Duke of York and Patrick Stewart as John of Gaunt.
In October 2014, Duncan appeared as Claire in the revival of Edward Albee's A Delicate Balance on Broadway. That same year, she also featured in the film Birdman, or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance), which won the Academy Award for Best Picture.
|1985||Samson and Delilah||Alice Nankervis||Short|
|1987||Prick Up Your Ears||Anthea Lahr|
|1989||The Child Eater||Eirwen||Short|
|1990||The Reflecting Skin||Dolphin Blue||Sitges - Catalan International Film Festival Award for Best Actress|
|1991||Body Parts||Dr Agatha-Webb|
|1996||City Hall||Sydney Pappas|
|1996||A Midsummer Night's Dream||Hippolyta/Titania||From the 1994–1995 Royal Shakespeare Company stage production|
|1999||An Ideal Husband||Lady Markby|
|1999||Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace||TC-14||Voice|
|1999||Expelling the Demon||Woman||Voice, short.|
|1999||Mansfield Park||Mrs. Price/Lady Bertram|
|2003||Under the Tuscan Sun||Katherine|
|2003||AfterLife||May Brogan||Bratislava International Film Festival Award for Best Actress|
Bowmore Scottish Screen Award
|2004||The Queen of Sheba's Pearls||Audrey Pretty|
|2006||Starter for Ten||Rose Harbinson|
|2007||The Rector's Wife||Anna Bouverie|
|2010||Burlesque Fairytales||Ice Queen|
|2010||Alice in Wonderland||Helen Kingsleigh|
|2012||Last Passenger||Elaine Middleton|
|2013||About Time||Mary Lake|
|2013||Le Week-End||Meg Burrows|
|2014||Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)||Tabitha Dickinson||Washington D.C. Area Film Critics Association Award for Best Ensemble|
|2016||Alice Through the Looking Glass||Helen Kingsleigh|
|TBA||Made in Italy||Post-production|
|1975||Up Pompeii!||Scrubba||Series (BBC), special episode 'Further Up Pompeii!'|
|1976||One-Upmanship||Series (BBC), episode 'Woomanship'|
|1977||The New Avengers||Jane||Series, episode 'The Angels of Death'|
|1979||The Winkler||Diane||ITV Playhouse|
|1980||Dick Turpin||Catherine Langford||Series, episode 'Deadlier Than the Male'|
|1980||Grown-Ups||Christine Butcher||BBC2 Playhouse, directed by Mike Leigh|
|1982||Muck and Brass||Jean Torrode||Series, episodes 'Public Relations' and 'Our Green and Pleasant Land'|
|1982||On Approval||Helen Hayle||Filmed production of Frederick Lonsdale's On Approval, BBC Play of the Month|
|1983||Reilly, Ace of Spies||The Plugger||Mini series, episode 'After Moscow'|
|1984||Rainy Day Women||Karen Miller||BBC Play for Today|
|1984||Travelling Man||Andrea||Series, episodes 'First Leg', 'The Collector', 'The Watcher', 'Grasser', 'Moving On', 'Sudden Death'|
|1986||Dead Head||Dana||Series, episodes 'Why me?', 'Anything for England', 'The Patriot'|
|1986||Kit Curran||Pamela Scott||Series, all episodes|
|1989||These Foolish Things||Gutrune Day||BBC The Play on One|
|1989||Traffik||Helen Rosshalde||Mini-series, written by Simon Moore, all episodes|
|1988–1990||Colin's Sandwich||Rosemary||Series, episodes 'Enough' (1988) and 'Zanzibar' (1990)|
|1990||TECX||Laura Pellin||Series, épisode 'Getting Personnel'|
|1991||The Storyteller: Greek Myths||Medea||Series, episode 'Theseus & the Minotaur'|
|1991||Screenplay||Kath Peachey||Series, episode 'Redemption'|
|1991||G.B.H.||Barbara Douglas||Mini-series, witten by Alan Bleasdale, episodes 'Only Here on a Message', 'Send a Message to Michael', 'Message Sent', 'Message received', 'Message Understood', 'Over and Out'|
Nominated – TV BAFTA for Best Actress
|1993||A Year in Provence||Annie Mayle||Miniseries, all episodes. After Peter Mayle's book.|
|1994||The Rector's Wife||Anne Bouverie||Series, all episodes. After the novel by Joanna Trollope.|
|1995||Just William||Lady Walton||Series, episode 'William Clears the Slums'|
|1995||Jake's Progress||Monica||Miniseries, episodes 1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.6|
|1999||The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling||Lady Bellaston||Miniseries, episodes 1, 3, 4, 5. After the novel by Henry Fielding.|
|1998||Get Real||Louise||Series, all episodes|
|1999||Shooting the Past||Marilyn Truman||Telefilm (BBC), written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff|
Nominated – TV BAFTA for Best Actress
|1999||Oliver Twist||Elizabeth Leeford||Miniseries, all episodes. Adapted by Alan Bleasdale after Charles Dickens' novel.|
|2000||Victoria Wood with All The Trimmings||Pam||Christmas special, segment 'Women Institute'|
|2001||Perfect Strangers||Alice||Series, all episodes. Written and directed by Stephen Poliakoff|
Nominated — TV BAFTA for Best Actress
|2001||Witness of Truth: The Railway Murders||Narrator's Voice||Telefilm|
|2005||Agatha Christie's Poirot||Lady Tamplin||Series, episode 'The Mystery of the Blue Train'|
|2005–2006||Spooks||Angela Wells||Episodes 'Diana' and 'Gas and Oil, Part One'|
|2005–2007||Rome||Servilia of the Junii||Series, 18 episodes|
|2007||Frankenstein||Professor Jane Pretorius||Telefilm|
|2008||Criminal Justice||Alison Slaughter||Miniseries, episodes 3–5|
|2008||Lost in Austen||Lady Catherine de Bourgh||Miniseries, episodes 3 and 4|
|2009||Margaret||Margaret Thatcher||Nominated – Scottish BAFTA Award for Best Actress|
|2009||Doctor Who||Adelaide Brooke||Special episode: 'The Waters of Mars'|
|2009||Margot||Ninette de Valois||Telefilm (BBC)|
|2010||Agatha Christie's Marple||Marina Gregg||Episode: 'The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side'|
|2010||Mission: 2110||Cybele||Children game show|
|2010–2011||Come Fly with Me||Narrator (voice)||Series, all episodes|
|2011||The Sinking of the Laconia||Elisabeth Fullwood||Miniseries (BBC), all episodes. Written by Alan Bleasdale.|
|2011||Christopher and His Kind||Kathleen Isherwood||Telefilm, written by Kevin Elyot after Christopher Isherwood's autobiography|
|2011–2012||Merlin||Queen Annis||Series (BBC1), 4th season, 5th season|
|2011||Black Mirror||Home Secretary Alex Cairns||Miniseries, first episode: "The National Anthem" (Channel 4). Written by Charlie Brooker.|
|2011||Against the Wall||Faith Kowalski||Police-crime drama television series, episode 'We Have a Cop in Trouble Here'|
|2012||Absolutely Fabulous||Jeanne Durand||New Year's Day 'Special' (BBC1)|
|2012||White Heat||Lilly||Series (BBC2), written by Paula Milne|
|2012||Richard II||Duchess of York||Telefilm (BBC2) – filmed production of Shakespeare's play|
|2012||Spy||The Director||Episodes 'Codename: Citizen Lame' and 'Codename - Show Stopper'|
|2012||Wallander||Monika Westin||Episode 'Before the Frost'|
|2013||You, Me and Them||Lydia Walker||Series Regular|
|2013||Count Arthur Strong||Dame Agnes|
|2014–2017||Sherlock||Lady Smallwood||Episodes: "His Last Vow", "The Six Thatchers", and "The Lying Detective"|
|2014||The Honourable Woman||Anjelica Hayden-Hoyle|
|2015||Toast of London||Herself||Episode: "Global Warming"|
|2016||Churchill's Secret||Clementine Churchill|
|2016||Close to the Enemy||Frau Bellinghausen||BBC2 mini-series, written & directed by Stephen Poliakoff|
|2017||The Leftovers||Grace||5 episodes|
|2018||A Discovery of Witches||Ysabeau||Series with 8 episodes|
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