500

Stage & Screen

Actor and Rapper
2016 was a busy year for Riz Ahmed who appeared in both the new Bourne and the new Star Wars, played a leading role in acclaimed HBO series The Night Of and released a new album Cashmere under his pseudonym MC Riz as part of rap duo Swet Shop Boys. Ahmed was born in Wembley to Muslim Pakistani parents and won a scholarship to public school Merchant Taylors’, going on to study at Oxford. His breakout role came playing a would-be suicide bomber in the BAFTA-winning Four Lions in 2010.
Actress
Since she first rose to fame playing Agent Dana Scully opposite David Duchovny’s Mulder in ten seasons of The X Files, Gillian Anderson has become a darling of British stage and screen, and has lived in London since 2002. After an award-winning performance as Blanche Dubois in Streetcar at the Young Vic, Anderson reprised her role in The Fall for a third series in 2016. Her forthcoming projects include a television adaptation of Neil Gaiman's American Gods and the film Andorra with Toni Colette, Guy Pearce and Joanna Lumley.
Chief Executive, BAFTA
One of the most influential people in the British film industry, Amanda Berry has been chief executive of BAFTA for 16 years. After just a year in charge she made the shrewd decision to stage the BAFTA awards before the Oscars, ensuring they were no longer overshadowed by media hype from across the pond. Berry backed the BAFTA Blackout protest in 2016, admitting that there is a lack of diversity in the British film industry, which the academy hopes to address. 2017 sees the awards ceremony move from the Royal Opera House to the Royal Albert Hall.
Co-Chairmen and Producers, Working Title Films
Founded by Tim Bevan in 1983, Working Title has made over 100 films, grossed over $6 billion worldwide and won eleven Oscars and 38 BAFTAs. Eric Fellner joined Bevan as co-chairman in 1992 and the pair are responsible for such beloved British films as Four Weddings and a Funeral, Love Actually, Billy Elliot and The Theory of Everything. Bridget Jones’s Baby was its stand-out success in 2016, outperforming competition from Disney and Pixar to take £46 million at the box office. World War II film Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill, is due for release at the end of 2017.
Actress
Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt first took up acting to help her overcome a childhood stutter. She was spotted at the Edinburgh Festival and made her professional debut on stage in The Royal Family opposite Judi Dench, but it was her performance as uptight assistant Emily in The Devil Wears Prada that put her on the international stage. 2016 saw Blunt take on the role of divorced alcoholic Rachel in The Girl on the Train and she will star as Mary Poppins in a 2018 remake of the film. Blunt is married to American actor and writer John Krasinski and the couple have two daughters.
Director and Choreographer
Matthew Bourne’s latest production The Red Shoes, an adaptation of the 1947 film, marks the 30th anniversary of his dance company, which has staged groundbreaking interpretations of classic stories such as Lord of the Flies, Edward Scissorhands and Dorian Gray. He remains best known for his all-male Swan Lake, which transferred from Sadler’s Wells to the West End and then Broadway, where it ran for an unprecedented four months. A self-confessed Strictly Come Dancing fan, Bourne himself danced professionally for 14 years from the relatively late age of 22, giving his last performance in Swan Lake on Broadway.
Director, Actor and Producer
Sir Kenneth Branagh has variously turned his hand to acting, directing and producing, reaching legend status in the world of stage and screen. 2015 saw Branagh reprise his role of Swedish detective Kurt Wallander in the fourth BBC series of Wallander as well as the release of the Branagh-directed box office hit Cinderella, which grossed $542 million worldwide, becoming his highest-grossing film to date. In April 2015, Branagh formed the Kenneth Branagh Theatre Company and announced his plans to run a season of five shows at the Garrick Theatre in London's West End. It was also announced in October that he would be the new president of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, succeeding the late Lord Attenborough.
Actor
In 2016 Benedict Cumberbatch took on the role of Marvel’s Dr Strange in the film of the same name, with follow-up Thor: Ragnarok due in 2017. For many of his fans, however, he remains most closely associated with the BBC’s Sherlock, for which he won an Emmy, and which returned for a fourth series on New Year’s Day. Cumberbatch attended LAMDA and has worked extensively on stage as well as screen. His 2011 performance as Frankenstein with Jonny Lee Miller won an Olivier and a Critics’ Circle Award, and he was named Best Actor at the 2016 Whatsonstage Awards for Hamlet.
Actress
Olivia Colman came to prominence playing Sophie in Channel 4's Peep Show, a role she sustained for 12 years and 32 episodes. Her versatility across television and film, comedy and drama, has seen her compared to her Iron Lady co-star Meryl Streep, who has described her as ‘divinely gifted’. Colman’s three BAFTAs include Best Actress for her performance in Broadchurch, while her role in 2016’s The Night Manager gained her an Emmy nomination. 2017 sees Colman voice the part of Strawberry in an animated remake of Watership Down.
Director and Producer
Perhaps best known for directing 2001 hit film Billy Elliot, Stephen Daldry is also director and executive producer of six-season Netflix vehicle The Crown, whose glowing reviews have justified its lavish cost. Daldry also directed the musical version of Billy Elliot, which ran for eleven years in the West End and won five Olivier awards and 10 Tonys. In 2012, Daldry was creative lead for the Olympic and Paralympic ceremonies and has directed refugees in the Calais Jungle as part of the Good Chance Theatre project. His revival of An Inspector Calls runs until the end of March.
Actress
Judi Dench is considered one of the greatest actresses of her generation and her numerous iconic TV and film roles include Queen Victoria, Elizabeth I and M in the James Bond franchise, whom she played for 20 years. Over the course of her career Dench has received 203 awards nominations across theatre, film and television, winning an Oscar, a Tony, six Oliviers and ten BAFTAs. In February she is due to appear in Tom Stoppard’s Tulip Fever with Alicia Vikander and Cara Delevingne. For her 81st birthday, Dench’s daughter gave her a wrist tattoo reading ‘Carpe Diem’.
Actress
Currently starring as the adult Hermione Granger in Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Noma Dumezweni also made her directorial debut in 2016 with I See You at the Royal Court. J K Rowling offered resounding support to Dumezweni’s casting as her heroine, saying that she never specified that Hermione was white, while Emma Watson said meeting the actress and her performance ‘was like meeting my older self and have her tell me everything was going to be all right.’ Dumezweni won an Olivier Award in 2006 for her performance in A Raisin in the Sun.
Actor
Chiwetel Ejiofor secured his break at 19 while training at LAMDA, when Steven Spielberg cast him in historical drama Amistad. He won an Olivier Award as Othello at the Donmar and a BAFTA for his performance in Oscar-winning 12 Years a Slave, with director Steve McQueen saying he was ‘the only person’ who could play lead character Solomon Northup. Ejiofor grew up in Forest Gate and, aged 11, survived a car crash in Nigeria in which his father was killed. He played supervillain Baron Mordo in Dr Strange in 2016 and will star in Mary Magdalene with Rooney Mara and Joaquin Phoenix later this year.
Actor
Despite saying that he doesn’t want to play villains any more, for many a Harry Potter fan Ralph Fiennes will always be Voldemort, Harry’s terrifying nemesis in five of the eight Potter films. Already an established Shakespearean actor, Fiennes’s breakout film role came in 1993 with Schindler’s List, for which he won a BAFTA and an Oscar nomination. Fiennes recently succeeded Judi Dench to play M in the Bond films, and 2016 saw him return to stage in The Master Builder and Richard III. He will play Antony in a National Theatre production of Antony and Cleopatra in 2018.
Director and Producer
Theatre and film producer Robert Fox’s most recent project is Lazarus, the musical co-written by David Bowie, with whom Fox was friends for more than 40 years. He has also frequently collaborated with writer David Hare, producing Hare’s screenplay for The Hours, which won Nicole Kidman an Oscar for her portrayal of Virginia Woolf. A member of the Fox theatrical dynasty and brother of actors Edward and James, he was perhaps destined to work in theatre, and the past two decades have rarely seen him without a hit production running in either the West End or on Broadway.
Theatre Producer and Founder, Sonia Friedman Productions
Sonia Friedman is the producer behind five-star theatrical hit Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, which premiered at the Palace Theatre in 2016 and is currently sold out well into 2018. In 2016 she was named Producer of the Year at The Stage Awards for the second year running, and was appointed OBE in the same year for her services to theatre. Friedman set up her eponymous company in 2002, venturing into television on BBC 2’s historical drama Wolf Hall, which won two BAFTAs. Friedman is currently in talks over a Broadway transfer for Cursed Child in 2018.
Producer and Founder, Heyday Films
Two years after founding his own production company, David Heyman secured the rights to the Harry Potter films, now the second highest-grossing film franchise ever. In 2016 Heyday Films produced Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, and its other recent projects include the BAFTA-winning Gravity, The Light Between Oceans and Paddington, for which a sequel is due this year. Heyman’s father is a producer and his mother an actress and producer with whom he co-produced TV film The Thirteenth Tale.
Actor
Tom Hiddleston’s performance in 2016’s big-budget BBC series The Night Manager won him critical acclaim, an Emmy nomination – and a Rear of the Year award. In 2017 he will reprise his role as Loki in Thor: Ragnarok, the third installment of the Marvel series, and stars opposite Samuel L Jackson in monster film Kong: Skull Island. Hiddleston attributes much of his success to Sir Kenneth Branagh, with whom he appeared in Wallander, and who cast him in the first of the Thor films, saying ‘it was massive and it’s completely changed the course of what is available to me to do.’
Writer and Actress
Sharon Horgan's hit comedy series Catastrophe won her a BAFTA in 2016 with her co-writer and co-star Rob Delaney. The Channel 4 show was universally lauded by critics and a second series swiftly followed the first, with a third due in 2017. Horgan was best known before then for Pulling, which ran for two series, winning a British Comedy Award in 2009. Before she got her break as an actor Horgan worked in a bong shop in Camden. Her latest comedy, Divorce, was commissioned by HBO after the pilot, and appeared on US screens in 2016, starring Sarah-Jessica Parker.
Actress
In December Felicity Jones starred as rebel leader Jyn Erso in Rogue One, the first Star Wars Anthology film. It’s a far cry from The Archers, where she began her acting career playing Emma Grundy, a role she sustained for 10 years. Jones has since appeared in a number of high-profile films, including Inferno with Tom Hanks. In 2015 she was nominated for a Best Actress Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe for her portrayal of Jane Hawking in The Theory of Everything opposite Eddie Redmayne.
Actress
Suranne Jones won a host of major awards in 2016 including a Best Actress BAFTA TV Award for her role in BBC2's Doctor Foster, a five-part drama about a woman discovering her husband's infidelity. Jones played ‘screaming banshee’ Karen McDonald in Coronation Street for four years, winning two British Soap Awards, and was fictional detective Rachel Bailey in Scott & Bailey for a further five. She credits her acclaimed performance in Sally Wainwright's 2009 drama Unforgiven with giving her 'a little bit of credibility, I suppose.' Doctor Foster returns for a second series this year. 
Actress
Keira Knightley returned to cinema screens at the end of last year in Collateral Beauty alongside Will Smith, Kate Winslet and Helen Mirren. With an actor father and actress-turned-playwright mother, it’s perhaps no surprise that Knightley had her own agent by the age of six, but her breakout role came ten years later in Bend it Like Beckham. Knightley’s next projects include a biopic about French novelist Colette and the World War II film The Aftermath, both due for release in 2017.
Director
Director Peter Kosminsky won a BAFTA in 2016 for his television adaptation of Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall, and he used his acceptance speech to defend the BBC. He described UK public broadcasting as ‘in many ways the envy of the world and we should stand up and fight for it, not let it go by default’, receiving a standing ovation. It was Kosminsky’s sixth BAFTA over a 30-year career, and 2017 sees him write and direct a drama about young British people travelling to Syria to join Isis, due to air on Channel 4 and the National Geographic Channel.
Actress
Sarah Lancashire's long and diverse television career began with Coronation Street, in which she played barmaid Raquel Welch. In recent years she has collaborated with writer Sally Wainwright on two dramas set in Yorkshire, playing police sergeant Catherine Cawood in Happy Valley and gay headmistress Caroline in Last Tango in Halifax. Lancashire, who battled depression early in her career, has described Caroline as the role of which she is the most proud, and won a BAFTA TV Award for her performance.
Producer and Composer
The impresario behind such iconic musicals as Phantom of the Opera, Cats and Starlight Express, Andrew Lloyd Webber’s accolades include four Grammys, a Golden Globe and an Oscar. His latest project is School of Rock, an adaptation of the 2003 film scripted by Julian Fellowes, which has garnered starry reviews and been hailed as a return to form for the veteran composer. The Andrew Lloyd Webber Foundation funds arts education and access and aims to promote diversity in the industry – Lloyd Webber recently described British theatre as ‘hideously white’.
Director
Ken Loach won the prestigious Palme D’Or for the second time in 2016 for his film I, Daniel Blake, an unflinching critique of the UK’s welfare system. He has been active for more than 50 years, making his name with TV drama Cathy Come Home and 1969 film Kes, voted the seventh greatest British film of the last century in a BFI poll. Anti-establishment Loach declined an OBE and has resisted the lure of Hollywood, reluctant to compromise on his political ideals, which are expressed through both his work and his support of left-wing movements such as Respect and Left Unity.
Theatre Producer
One of the most successful, influential and powerful theatrical producers in the world, Sir Cameron Mackintosh is a giant of the musical theatre scene. His passion for theatre – and ambition to work in it – was fuelled by watching a production of Salad Days aged eight, and he started out as a stage hand at the Theatre Royal in his teens. Mackintosh has produced a number of the world's favourite musicals including The Phantom of the Opera, Les Miserables and Oliver! , with the catalyst for his career coming in 1981 when he agreed to put on a new show called Cats. Over 30 years later, Mackintosh has received a knighthood for his work and was the first British producer inducted into Broadway's highly prestigious American Theater Hall of Fame.
Actress
Helen Mirren – born Mironoff, from her Russian father – began acting with the National Youth Theatre and her career has now spanned six decades, with key roles including Jane Tennison in Prime Suspect for 15 years and the title role in The Queen. For the latter, Mirren won a Best Actress Oscar, BAFTA and Golden Globe. She recently starred in Collateral Beauty with Will Smith, Keira Knightley and Kate Winslet, and, at 71, shows no sign of slowing, with two further films due in 2017. Mirren features in the 2017 Pirelli calendar alongside other award-winning actresses including Nicole Kidman, Uma Thurman and Lupita Nyongo.
Playwright and Screenwriter
Abi Morgan has written for theatre, television and film and her screenplays include Shame, The Iron Lady and Suffragette. She also wrote BBC drama River about a detective suffering psychotic trauma, which she has described as ‘a way to explore my own mental health’. Morgan returns to familiar themes for her next project, Denial, based on a memoir by Jessica Stern about her sexual assault as an adolescent. In 2016 she was on the panel for the Woman’s Hour Power List, determining the most influential women of the last 70 years, top of which was the Iron Lady herself, Margaret Thatcher.
Artistic Director, National Theatre
Rufus Norris became the National Theatre’s artistic director, often regarded as the most prestigious job in British theatre, in 2015. Having grown up in Africa and Malaysia, Norris moved to the UK and trained at RADA as an actor before making the transition into directing. He has won many awards for his work, including a Critics’ Circle Award for verbatim musical London Road about the Ipswich murders. Norris also directed the 2015 film version, starring Olivia Colman and Tom Hardy and his latest project is another verbatim work, a Brexit-inspired collaboration with Carol Ann Duffy called My Country: A Work in Progress.
Actor
British Nigerian actor David Oyelowo recently appeared in a sold-out Broadway run of Othello with Daniel Craig and his next projects include sci-fi horror God Particle directed by J J Abrams and indie film American Express with Charlize Theron. Oyelowo, who spent some of his childhood in Lagos before returning to the UK aged 14, remains best known for playing Martin Luther King Jr in 2014 biopic Selma. His performance as the civil rights activist was a hit with critics and garnered him a Golden Globe nomination.
Actor
Eddie Redmayne’s breakout role came in 2014 with his Oscar-winning portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything. He gained a second Oscar nomination in 2016 for his performance as transgender artist Lili Elbe in The Danish Girl and also starred in Harry Potter spin-off Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. Born and raised in London, Redmayne studied History of Art at Cambridge and modelled for Burberry before becoming a full-time actor. In 2016, Redmayne and his wife Hannah Bagshawe welcomed their first child, Iris.
Actor, Director and Playwright Mark Rylance trained at RADA and won his first Olivier Award for his portrayal of Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing in 1993. He was the first artistic director of the Globe for ten years and won a second Olivier after stepping down for his role in Royal Court sensation Jerusalem. Rylance’s 2015 performance in Bridge of Spies won him an Oscar, and he worked with Steven Spielberg again in a highly acclaimed performance as a CGI-enhanced BFG. Rylance was knighted in the 2017 New Year Honours and appears in Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk later in the year.
Director and Producer
Veteran director Ridley Scott returns to British screens in 2017 with Alien: Covenant, the sixth installment in the Alien series almost 40 years after the first. Already revered for his early films such as Blade Runner and Thelma & Louise, in 2000 Scott’s Gladiator won a staggering five Oscars, four BAFTAs and two Golden Globes. Scott is known for his collaborative approach on set, and for his interest in strong female characters who have been portrayed by actresses including Demi Moore, Sigourney Weaver and Charlize Theron.
Playwright and Screenwriter
Between a recent National Theatre production of his new play The Hard Problem, and a five-star revival of the 40-year-old Travesties, revered playwright Sir Tom Stoppard still looms large in British theatre. Travesties broke box office records at the Menier, selling out before previews, and is set for a West End transfer in February. Perhaps best known for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the play that made his name, Stoppard won an Oscar for his 1998 film Shakespeare in Love. Born Tomáŝ Straussler in Czechoslovakia, Stoppard and his Jewish family fled to Singapore to escape the Nazis in 1939.
Playwright and Screenwriter
Jack Thorne is the playwright responsible for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, the stage version of a new story he created with J K Rowling introducing a new generation of Potter characters. He has written extensively for both stage and screen, including for Channel 4’s Skins and This is England, and his first film, The Scouting Book for Boys, won him Best Newcomer at the London Film Festival. Thorne also wrote acclaimed Channel 4 drama National Treasure in 2016 and his next project will see him adapt Philip Pullman’s much-loved trilogy His Dark Materials for BBC 1.
Writer
Sally Wainwright is the writer behind series including Happy Valley, Last Tango in Halifax and Scott & Bailey, and has won four BAFTA TV awards for her work. Wainwright worked as a bus driver in her early 20s before writing for The Archers and then Coronation Street. She wrote, produced and directed television film To Walk Invisible about the Brontë family and was awarded a Screenwriting Fellowship by the Wellcome Trust in 2016, which she plans to use for a new BBC drama about Yorkshire diarist Anne Lister.
Writer and Actor
2016 saw Phoebe Waller-Bridge star in two of her own comedy series, Crashing on Channel 4 and BBC 3's Fleabag. The latter, based on her award-winning one-woman play of the same name, was roundly raved about and swiftly promoted to BBC 2 before being picked up by Amazon Video for broadcast in the US. Waller-Bridge trained at RADA and has worked across theatre, TV and film. She has been hailed variously as a British Amy Schumer and ‘the voice of generation rent’, and has recently been commissioned to write a thriller series for BBC America, slated for 2018.
Artistic Director, Old Vic
Matthew Warchus succeeded Kevin Spacey as artistic director at the Old Vic in 2015. His first season underlined his ambition to rebrand the theatre as accessible and appealing to all, and included a musical version of Groundhog Day with music by Tim Minchin, with whom Warchus also collaborated on the award-winning Matilda the Musical. Warchus has said that as a director ‘I like hiding behind other people’, and 2017 at the Old Vic continues his something-for-everyone approach with a Stoppard revival, a Gilbert and Sullivan musical and a new play featuring music by Bob Dylan.
Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning
As the BBC’s new drama boss, Piers Wenger has one of the most influential roles in television. He moves to his new role from Channel 4, where he was head of drama, commissioning the critically acclaimed National Treasure amongst other popular shows. Wenger had previously worked as head of drama at BBC Wales and as an executive producer on shows including Dr Who, for which he cast Matt Smith in the lead role, and was a long-time friend and collaborator of Victoria Wood.
DISCOVER
All the latest news, discussions, events and offers from Debrett’s and receive £10 off your first purchase
SUBMIT