Louise Brealey (born 27 March 1979), also credited as Loo Brealey, is an English actress, writer and journalist. She played Molly Hooper in Sherlock,[1] Cass in Back, Scottish professor Jude McDermid in Clique and as Gillian Chamberlain in A Discovery of Witches.

Louise Brealey
Brealey in 2014
Born (1979-03-27) 27 March 1979 (age 45)
Bozeat, Northamptonshire, England
Occupation(s)Actress, writer, journalist
Years active2001–present



She was born in Bozeat,[2] Northamptonshire. Brealey won a scholarship for Kimbolton School and went on to read history at Girton College, Cambridge. She trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City and with clown teacher Philippe Gaulier in London.



Brealey has written on cinema, art and music since her teens, contributing reviews and features for magazines including Premiere UK, Empire, SKY, The Face, Neon and Total Film. She is the editor of Anarchy and Alchemy: The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky (Creation Books, 2007). Until April 2009, Brealey was the deputy editor of Wonderland magazine.[3] A freelance Associate Producer, she has written documentary pitches for BBC Arts. In 2013 her first play Pope Joan[4] was performed by the National Youth Theatre. Her monologue Go Back To Where You Came From was performed as part of Paines Plough Theatre's Come To Where I'm From project in 2018.[5]





Brealey made her TV debut as Nurse Roxanne Bird in two series of BBC drama Casualty before playing Judy Smallweed in Bleak House. Terry Wogan took Judy and her snaggle-toothed grandfather Smallweed (Phil Davis) to heart, regaling Radio 2 listeners with regular renditions of Davis' catchphrase "Shake me up, Judy!". Brealey followed Bleak House with a comic turn as Anorak, Alistair MacGowan's black-bobbed sidekick, in comedy drama Mayo, described by The Hollywood Reporter as "Agatha Christie does Moonlighting".

Brealey plays pathologist[6] Molly Hooper in all four series of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's television drama, Sherlock.[7]

Brealey is often asked to work in accents, playing a doughty Yorkshire doctor in Ripper Street, a Cockney ne'er-do-well in Law & Order: UK, a broken Geordie widow in Inspector George Gently and a ball-breaking Edinburgh academic in Clique.

Brealey played a leading role in the ITV drama The Widow, first broadcast in March 2019.



Her stage debut was at London's Royal Court in 2001 as 14-year-old Sophie in Max Stafford-Clark's production of Judy Upton's Sliding With Suzanne. The Daily Telegraph called her performance "a perfect poignant study of adolescence".

Her portrayal of child prodigy Thomasina in the Bristol Old Vic production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in 2005 was described by The Daily Telegraph as "the evening belongs to Loo Brealey's Thomasina".

Brealey worked twice with Sir Peter Hall. First in 2007 on Simon Gray's Little Nell, in which she played the title role opposite Michael Pennington and Tim Pigott-Smith. Based on The Invisible Woman, Claire Tomalin's award-winning biography of Charles Dickens's mistress Ellen Ternan, Little Nell followed Ternan's story from 17 to 44 years of age. Critics described Brealey's work as "impressive" (The Stage), "highly compelling" (The Independent) and "astounding" (British Theatre Guide). The following year, Hall cast her as Sonya in his critically acclaimed Uncle Vanya, the inaugural production at London's Rose Theatre. The Telegraph called hers "a name to watch" and The Independent compared her to Joan Fontaine in Rebecca. The Spectator said: "Brealey uncovers the pathetic poetry beneath the indolent superficialities. Her big disadvantage is that she’s too attractive for ‘plain’ Sonya, but she disguises this by suggesting a lack of sexual allure with awkward giggles, squirrelly movements and a stupefied beaming naivety. All brilliantly done..."

In 2011 Brealey was the sex-mad, short-frocked daughter of Julian Barratt and Doon Mackichan at the Young Vic in Richard Jones's Government Inspector. She next played three lead roles – Cassandra, Andromache and Helen of Troy – in Caroline Bird's production of The Trojan Women at London's Gate Theatre.[7] The Times called her performances "electrifying" and The Guardian said she "pulled off a remarkable treble". Brealey talked about the roles in the Evening Standard[8] and wrote a piece for The Times about the experience of going naked on stage, which went viral.[9][10]

In February 2014 she starred as Julie in August Strindberg's Miss Julie at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

More recently she won Best Actress at the Manchester Theatre Awards for her role as Marianne in Constellations, directed by Michael Longhurst and played the lead alongside Anne Marie Duff in Marianne Elliott's Husbands and Sons at the National Theatre.



Brealey is the narrator of Caitlin Moran's How to Build a Girl and its sequel How to Be Famous, Alex MichaelidesThe Silent Patient, Kate Mosse's Number One Bestseller Labyrinth and Hallie Rubenhold's The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper. She was Megan in the audiobook edition of The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, which won the 2016 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year.[11][12]



Brealey voiced the part of Laura Willowes in the 2021 BBC Radio 4 adaptation of Lolly Willowes.[13]




Brealey in 2009
Year Title Role Notes
2000 Boy Meets Girl Susan Short film
2003 The Tooth Faerie Short film
2005 The English Harem Suzy TV film
2007 Green Abi TV film
I Want You Girl Short film
2010 Reuniting the Rubins Miri Rubins
2011 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Hairdresser
2013 Delicious Stella
2014 Heard Ruth Short film
2015 Birthday Natasha TV film
Containment Sally
Victor Frankenstein Sexy Society Girl
2018 In Wonderland Alice Short film
2019 Nobody's Son Susan Thompson Short film
2020 Limbo Hannah Peyton Short film
2022 Brian and Charles Hazel
Deep Clean Maddie Short film
2023 Chuck Chuck Baby Helen


Year Title Role Notes
2002-04 Casualty Roxanne Bird Series regular; 95 episodes
2005 Bleak House Judy Recurring role; 8 episodes
2006 Mayo Anorak Series regular; 8 episodes
2008 Hotel Babylon Chloe McCourt 1 episode
2010-17 Sherlock Molly Hooper Series regular; 14 episodes
2011 Law & Order: UK Joanne Vickery Episode: "Tick Tock"
2012 The Charles Dickens Show Various Recurring role; 3 episodes
2013 Father Brown Eleanor Knight Episode: "The Mayor and the Magician"
2014 Ripper Street Amelia Frayn Series 3 regular; 7 episodes
2015 Inspector George Gently Jo Parker Episode: "Gently Among Friends"
2016 All Good Things Joanne Episode: "Stupid"
2017 Clique Jude McDermid Series 1 regular; 6 episodes
2017-21 Back Cassandra Leslie "Cass" Nichols Series regular; 12 episodes
2018 A Discovery of Witches Gillian Chamberlain Series 1 regular; 6 episodes
2019 The Widow Beatrix Recurring role; 5 episodes
Gomorrah Leena 1 episode
2020 Death in Paradise Donna Harman Episode: "A Murder in Portrait"
Exile Sarah Hargreaves Series regular; 10 episodes
2023 Lockwood & Co. Pamela Joplin Recurring role; 4 episodes
Such Brave Girls Deb Series regular; 6 episodes[14]

Theatre credits

List of roles in theatre
Year Title Role Director Theatre
2001 Sliding with Suzanne Sophie Max Stafford-Clark Royal Court Theatre
2005 Arcadia Thomasina Rachel Kavanaugh Bristol Old Vic
2006 After the End Louise Roxana Silbert US and Russian tour, Off-Broadway
2007 Little Nell Nell Peter Hall Theatre Royal, Bath
2008 Uncle Vanya Sonya Peter Hall Rose Theatre, Kingston
2008 Pornography Actor 7 Sean Holmes Traverse Theatre
2009 The Stone Hannah Ramin Gray Royal Court Theatre
2009 The Ones That Flutter Julie Ray Abbey Wright Theatre503
2010 Country Music Lynsey Lisa Blair & Eleanor While West Yorkshire Playhouse
2011 Government Inspector Mayor's daughter Richard Jones Young Vic
2012 The Trojan Women Cassandra/Andromache/Helen of Troy Christopher Haydon Gate Theatre (London)
2013 The Herd Claire Howard Davies Bush Theatre
2014 Miss Julie Miss Julie Dominic Hill Citizens Theatre
2014 Letters Live[15][16][17] Hay Festival, Wales
2015 Letters Live Freemasons' Hall
Husbands & Sons Minnie Gascoigne Marianne Elliott Co-production between National Theatre, London and Royal Exchange, Manchester


  1. ^ Day, Elizabeth (22 January 2012). "Louise Brealey: 'I don't think Molly is really Sherlock's type'". The Observer. Archived from the original on 4 December 2013. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  2. ^ "Loo Brealey". Holby.tv. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 16 August 2008.
  3. ^ "LivTyler". Louisebrealey.com. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  4. ^ Andrew Dickson (3 September 2013). "From Sherlock to Pope Joan: actor Louise Brealey on writing her first play | Stage". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 16 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  5. ^ "COME TO WHERE I'M FROM: NORTHAMPTON | Paines Plough". www.painesplough.com. Archived from the original on 23 November 2018.
  6. ^ "BBC One – Sherlock – Molly Hooper". BBC. Archived from the original on 5 March 2015. Retrieved 2 July 2014.
  7. ^ a b Urwin, Rosamund (7 November 2012). "Sherlock's Molly: the original Cumberbitch". London Evening Standard. Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2012.
  8. ^ "Sherlock's Molly: the original Cumberbitch – London Life – Life & Style". London Evening Standard. 7 November 2012. Archived from the original on 3 November 2015. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  9. ^ Louise Brealey (11 December 2012). "Louise Brealey: how it feels to be naked on stage". The Times. Archived from the original on 18 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  10. ^ "On Yellow Paper – What Molly Did Next". Onyellowpaper.tumblr.com. 11 December 2012. Archived from the original on 3 January 2014. Retrieved 23 January 2014.
  11. ^ "Meet the Cast: The girls from Paula Hawkins' THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN (Exclusive Audio Clips) | Books on Tape". Archived from the original on 17 May 2017. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  12. ^ "The Year's Best Audiobooks: 2016 Audie Award Winners". The Booklist Reader. 11 May 2016. Archived from the original on 19 May 2016. Retrieved 29 May 2017.
  13. ^ "Lolly Willowes". BBC Radio 4 Drama. 31 October 2021. Archived from the original on 30 October 2021. Retrieved 31 October 2021.
  14. ^ Dowell, Ben. "Such Brave Girls: my big BBC comedy about anxiety and dysfunction". The Times. Archived from the original on 20 November 2023. Retrieved 20 November 2023.
  15. ^ "Letters Live: Epistolary Joy At Freemasons' Hall". Londonist. 4 April 2015. Archived from the original on 9 April 2015. Retrieved 14 May 2015.
  16. ^ "BBC Sherlock star, X Files actor and a host of other celebrities perform at charity event for the Reading Agency". The Guardian. 11 December 2013. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 12 December 2016.
  17. ^ "Letters Live at Hay Festival". The Telegraph. 30 May 2014. Archived from the original on 28 May 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2018.