Open main menu

Matilda Ziegler (born 23 July 1964[1]) is an English television, stage and film actress best known for her roles as Pearl Pratt in Lark Rise to Candleford, Irma Gobb in Mr. Bean (Mr. Bean's girlfriend), and as Donna Ludlow in the long-running BBC1 serial EastEnders, and Ruth in the BBC Three sitcom Swiss Toni.

Matilda Ziegler
Born (1964-07-23) 23 July 1964 (age 55)
Ashford, Kent, England
Years active1987–present
Louis Hilyer (m. 2004)


Television careerEdit

Ziegler's first screen role remains her best known. In her early twenties, during 1987–89, she appeared on EastEnders, playing the scheming Donna Ludlow, the illegitimate daughter of series regular Kathy Beale (Gillian Taylforth). After trying to reunite with her mother and being immediately rejected by her, Donna contended with prostitution, an attempted gang rape, a heroin addiction and finally suicide (dying of a heroin overdose).

The final death scenes of Ziegler's character, who had choked to death on her own vomit, have been hailed as one of the most powerful anti drug images ever screened on the programme.[2] After leaving EastEnders in April 1989, Ziegler went on to star in the ITV sitcom Mr. Bean, where she played various characters, especially a four episode stint as Irma Gobb, the title character's long suffering girlfriend.

Other television credits include Harbour Lights (1999), acting alongside Nick Berry, who also played her love interest, Simon Wicks, in EastEnders; Where the Heart Is (2000); Holby City (2003); Casualty; An Unsuitable Job for a Woman (1998), and the police drama by ITV, The Bill (2003), among others. She also played roles in the films Decadence (1994), Jilting Joe (1998) and City Slacker (2012).

Ziegler played Ruth, wife of car salesman Toni, in the BBC sitcom Swiss Toni (2003–04). She also appeared in the BAFTA Television Award winning drama, Sex Traffic (2004). In 2005, she played Christine Miller in the fourth series of The Inspector Lynley Mysteries, and in 2007, she guest starred in the BBC Birmingham/BBC One medical drama Doctors. She played the part of Pearl Pratt, in the BBC adaptations of Lark Rise to Candleford in 2008–11.

She appeared in one episode of Outnumbered, and one episode of Death in Paradise (2013). In 2015, she appeared in an episode of Foyle's War, and Episode 6, Series 4 of Call the Midwife. She reprises her role as Irma Gobb voicing her in Mr. Bean: The Animated Series, starting in 2002 to 2004, and in the revived series since 2015 to date.

Stage and radio careerEdit

Ziegler has appeared in many stage productions, including Twelfth Night for the Royal Shakespeare Company (2001); the theatrical version of Mr. Bean; Women Laughing at the Royal Court Theatre; Volpone, Inadmissible Evidence and Machinal, all at the National Theatre; Featuring Loretta and The Memory Of Water—both at the Hampstead Theatre.

She also starred as Sheila Birling in Stephen Daldry's award winning production of An Inspector Calls at the Aldwych Theatre and for the production's Australian tour,[3] along with Lady Sneerwell in Deborah Warner's 2011 The School for Scandal at the Barbican Centre.

Her radio work has included playing Dr Ruth Anderson in the second and third series of the comedy show on BBC Radio 4, Rigor Mortis (2004–06). She took over from Tracy-Ann Oberman, who played the role in the show's first series. She also featured in Giles Wemmbley-Hogg Goes Off in 2010, and as Princess Theresa of Liechtenstein in the fourth series of Cabin Pressure in 2013, a role she reprised for the show's final episode in 2014.

She had previously played an air traffic controller and a paramedic in the second episode of the first series. She also performed in an BBC Radio 4 dramatisation of P. G. Wodehouse's Meet Mr Mulliner in 2002. In 2015, Ziegler directed Norwich School's production of "The Cherry Orchard". In 2017, she appeared as The Doctor, The Therapist and Mum in Duncan McMillan's People Places And Things directed by Jeremy Herrin.

Personal lifeEdit

In July 2004, Ziegler married actor Louis Hilyer. They have three children.[4] Ziegler and Hilyer first met while appearing in the London production of a Stephen Daldry production, The Great Pretenders. Since then, they have worked together on several projects, including the Daldry directed Inspector Calls and television's Harbour Lights. Ziegler is Associate Director at Norwich School.


  1. ^ Researcha[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Brake, Colin (1995). EastEnders: The First 10 Years: A Celebration. BBC Books. ISBN 0-563-37057-2.
  3. ^ "Matilda Ziegler's CV". PFD. Archived from the original on 16 November 2007. Retrieved 20 June 2007. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  4. ^ "Bean, the Bard and babies". Coventry Evening Telegraph. 19 April 2001. Retrieved 20 June 2007. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

External linksEdit