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Phoebe Sarah Nicholls[1] (born 1957)[1] is an English film, television, and stage actress. She is known for her roles as Cordelia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited and as the mother of John Merrick in The Elephant Man.

Phoebe Nicholls
Phoebe Sarah Nicholls

1957 (age 61–62)
Years active1964–present
Children3, including Tom and Matilda Sturridge
Parent(s)Anthony Nicholls
Faith Kent
RelativesHorace Nicholls (grandfather)

Personal lifeEdit

Nicholls is the daughter of actors Anthony Nicholls and Faith Kent.[2] She trained at the Central School of Speech and Drama.[3] Nicholls married director Charles Sturridge on 6 July 1985;[4] they have two sons, including actor Tom Sturridge, and a daughter.[4][5] Her grandfather is photojournalist Horace Nicholls.[6]


As a child actress in several films she was billed as Sarah Nicholls.[7] In her early 20s, she appeared in David Lynch's The Elephant Man (1980), Richard Loncraine's The Missionary (1982) and as Cordelia Flyte in Brideshead Revisited (1981). Since then, she has worked almost exclusively in television and theatre. Cast in Michael Lindsay-Hogg's original staging of Whose Life Is It Anyway? in 1978, she later performed in Robert Strura's revival of Three Sisters with Vanessa Redgrave, Stephen Daldry's acclaimed National Theatre version of J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls[3] and in the Olivier Award-winning productions of Pravda, with The Elephant Man co-star Sir Anthony Hopkins and Terry Johnson's Hysteria.[8] Her supporting performances in the 2008 West End revivals of Noël Coward's The Vortex and Harley Granville Barker's Waste earned her the 2009 Clarence Derwent Award from Equity. She also played the conniving art critic Rivera in the National Theatre production of the Howard Barker drama, Scenes from an Execution.

Nicholls appeared in the BBC film Persuasion (1995), an adaptation of Jane Austen's novel. She has made guest appearances on several television mystery series, including Kavanagh QC, Prime Suspect, Midsomer Murders, Lewis, The Ruth Rendell Mysteries ("May and June", 1997), Foyle's War, Second Sight starring Clive Owen, and the 2012 Christmas episode of Downton Abbey, a role she reprised for the 2014 season. She has also appeared in several works directed by her husband, Charles Sturridge, including his 1995 television adaptation of Gulliver's Travels, where she portrayed the Liliputian Empress, the 1997 film Fairy Tale: A True Story and Shackleton in 2002.



Year Title Role Notes
1964 The Pumpkin Eater Elizabeth
1965 Dr. Terror's House of Horrors Carol Rogers Segment: "Creeping Vine"
1967 Our Mother's House Gerty
1969 Women in Love Winifred Crich billed as Sarah Nicholls
1982 The Missionary Deborah Fitzbanks
1983 Party Party Rebecca
1984 Ordeal by Innocence Tina Argyle
1987 Maurice Anne Durham
1987 Gentry Susannah
1997 FairyTale: A True Story Polly Wright
2012 The Scapegoat Charlotte
2016 Three Women Wait for Death Miranda Short
2016 Starfish Tom's Mother
2016 Chubby Funny Aunty Jane
2017 Transformers: The Last Knight Aunt Helen
2017 Finding Your Feet Janet


Year Title Role Notes
1975 Prometheus: The Life of Balzac Augustine de Berny "Apprenticeship of a Genius"
1977 Van der Valk Treesje "Gold Plated Delinquents"
1979 Telford's Change Jean "1.8"
1979 Bless Me, Father Nurse Owen "Father Neil's First Miracle", "The Heart of a Curate"
1979 Secret Orchards Stella TV film
1980 BBC2 Playhouse Geraldine "Hesther for Example"
1980 Blade on the Feather Christabel Cavendish TV film
1981 Brideshead Revisited Cordelia Flyte TV miniseries
1982 Tales of the Unexpected Carol "A Harmless Vanity"
1983 Pictures Babs "1.3"
1983 All for Love Christine "To the Camp and Back"
1984 Hay Fever Sorel Bliss TV film
1985 Screen Two Louie Jermy "Poppyland"
1990 Screen Two Sarah "Drowning in the Shallow End"
1991 4 Play Annabel "Seduction"
1993 Heart of Darkness The Intended TV film
1995 Kavanagh QC Jackie Jarvis "Heartland"
1995 Screen Two Elizabeth Elliot "Persuasion"
1996 Gulliver's Travels Empress of Lilliput "1.1"
1997 The Ruth Rendell Mysteries May Thrace "May and June: Parts 1 & 2"
1999 Second Sight Judith Bendrix TV film
2002 Shackleton Emily Shackleton TV miniseries
2002 I'm Alan Partridge Karen Colman "Bravealan"
2003 Midsomer Murders Laura Smythe-Webster "A Tale of Two Hamlets"
2003 Prime Suspect 6: The Last Witness Shaw "Part 2"
2003 Foyle's War Amanda Reece "The Funk Hole"
2004 Hawking Isobel Hawking TV film
2004 The Brief Sally Graydon "Children"
2006 Spooks Janet Wheeler "5.10"
2007 The Trial of Tony Blair Cherie Blair TV film
2007 Lewis Caroline Croft "Expiation"
2007 All About Me Helen Conroy TV film
2007 Clapham Junction Natasha TV film
2010 The Road to Coronation Street Mrs. Simpson TV film
2012 Loving Miss Hatto Mrs. Hatto TV film
2012-2014 Downton Abbey Susan MacClare "A Journey to the Highlands", "5.8"
2013 New Tricks Annie Banks "The One That Got Away"
2015 Fortitude Dr. Allerdyce 9
2015 Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell Mrs. Wintertowne "The Friends of English Magic", "How Is Lady Pole?"
2016 Doctor Thorne Countess de Courcy "1.1", "1.2", "1.3"
2017 Endeavour Caroline Bryce-Morgan "Lazaretto"



  1. ^ a b "Oroonoko Productions Limited". UK: Dellam Corporate Information Limited. Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 25 June 2013.
  2. ^ McFarlane, Brian, ed. (2016). "Nicholls, Anthony". The Encyclopedia of British Film: Fourth edition. UK: Manchester University Press. p. 1,975.
  3. ^ a b "". Sony Pictures Classic: Phoebe Nicholls. Archived from the original on 1 April 2007. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  4. ^ a b "Charles Sturridge Biography (1951-)". Archived from the original on 12 January 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  5. ^ Ellen, Barbara (3 July 2016). "Tom Sturridge: 'If I'd been a parent to myself, I would have been scared'". The Guardian. UK. Archived from the original on 3 September 2017. Retrieved 28 November 2017.
  6. ^ Buckland, Gail; Horace Walter Nicholls (1989). The golden summer: the Edwardian photographs of Horace W. Nicholls. Pavilion. p. 114.
  7. ^ "Phoebe Nicholls". Archived from the original on 16 January 2016. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  8. ^ "[Untitled cast biography page]". FairyTale: A True Story official site (Paramount Pictures). Archived from the original on 7 February 2012. Retrieved 1 May 2007. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)

External linksEdit