Harriet Walter

Walter in 2023
Harriet Mary Walter

(1950-09-24) 24 September 1950 (age 73)
London, England, UK
Alma materLondon Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active1974–present
Guy Paul
(m. 2011)
PartnerPeter Blythe (1996–2004; his death)

Dame Harriet Mary Walter DBE (born 24 September 1950) is a British actress. She has performed on stage with the Royal Shakespeare Company, and received an Olivier Award, and nominations for a Tony Award, five Emmy Awards, and a Screen Actors Guild Award. In 2011, Walter was appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) for services to drama.

Walter began her career acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company in productions of Twelfth Night (1987–88) and Three Sisters (1988), for which she received the Olivier Award for Best Actress. She received Olivier nominations for Life x 3 (2001), and Mary Stuart (2006). Her other notable work for the RSC includes leading roles in Macbeth (1999) and Antony and Cleopatra (2006).

She made her Broadway debut in the 1983 revival of the William Shakespeare play All's Well That Ends Well (1983). She returned to Broadway in Mary Stuart for which she was nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actress in a Play. She reprised her roles of Brutus in Julius Caesar (2012) and the title role in Henry IV (2014), as well as playing Prospero in The Tempest, as part of an all-female Shakespeare trilogy in 2016.

Walter has acted in the films Sense and Sensibility (1995), The Governess (1998), Atonement (2007), The Young Victoria (2009), A Royal Affair (2012), Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015), Denial (2016), The Sense of an Ending (2017), Rocketman (2019) and The Last Duel (2021). On television she starred as Harriet Vane in the 1987 BBC Wimsey dramatisations and as Natalie Chandler in the ITV drama series Law & Order: UK from 2009 to 2014. She has also acted in Downton Abbey (2013–15), London Spy (2015), The Crown (2016), Patrick Melrose (2018), Killing Eve (2020), and Silo (2023). She has earned Primetime Emmy Award nominations for her roles in Succession (2018–2023) and Ted Lasso (2020–2023).

Early life

Walter was born in London, England. She is the niece of British actor Sir Christopher Lee, being the daughter of his elder sister Xandra Lee. On her father's side, Walter is a great-great-great-great-granddaughter of John Walter, founder of The Times.[1][2] She was educated at Cranborne Chase School. After turning down a university education, she was rejected by five drama schools before being admitted to the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[3] Following her training, she gained early experience with the Joint Stock Theatre Company, Paines Plough touring, and the Duke's Playhouse, Lancaster.[4]


Walter worked with Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) productions Nicholas Nickleby (1980), A Midsummer Night's Dream (1981), All's Well That Ends Well (1981), The Castle (1985), A Question of Geography, Twelfth Night (1988), Three Sisters (1988), The Duchess of Malfi (1989), Macbeth (1999), Much Ado about Nothing (2002) and Death of a Salesman (2015).

In 1987, Walter was made an associate artist of the RSC. Additional theatre work includes Three Birds Alighting on a Field (1991), Arcadia (1993), Hedda Gabler (1996), Ivanov (1997) and Mary Stuart (2005).

Walter made her Broadway debut in 1983, when the RSC production of All's Well That Ends Well transferred there. In 1993, she starred as Biddy in the off-Broadway production of Three Birds Alighting on a Field, for which she received a Drama Desk Award nomination. She returned to the Broadway stage in 2009, when she reprised her role in Mary Stuart. In 2014, Walter starred as Brutus in an all-female off-Broadway production of Julius Caesar and received her second Drama Desk nomination.

Walter's films include Sense and Sensibility (1995), Bedrooms and Hallways (1998), The Governess (1998), Onegin (1999), Villa des Roses (2002) and Bright Young Things (2003). In 1987, she portrayed Harriet Vane in three installments of the BBC's A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery, and played Detective Inspector Natalie Chandler from 2009 to 2012 in the ITV drama series Law & Order: UK. Other television roles include Waking the Dead (2001), Little Dorrit (2008), A Short Stay in Switzerland (2009) and Lady Shackleton in four episodes of the series Downton Abbey (2013–15).[5]

In 2016, Walter played Clementine Churchill on the Netflix series The Crown, appeared in two episodes in 2017 in Call the Midwife and had a recurring role on the HBO series Succession (2018⁠–23). In 2020, Walter joined the series Killing Eve.[6][7]

Walter played Brutus in Julius Caesar in 2012, and the title role in Henry IV in 2014, in all-female productions at the Donmar Warehouse. Both productions transferred to Brooklyn's St. Ann's Warehouse in New York. She was set to reprise both roles, as well as playing Prospero in an all-female production of The Tempest, as part of director Phyllida Lloyd's Shakespeare trilogy at the Donmar's temporary, in-the-round, 420-seat theatre next to King's Cross station in 2016.

Personal life

Walter was in a relationship with actor Peter Blythe from 1996 until his death in 2004.[8] She married actor Guy Paul in 2011.[9]

At the age of 20, Walter became a feminist and went "into political theatre; to try and put as much feminism into the interpretation of parts I was playing".[10] She was conflicted on her damehood and nearly turned it down,[11] but eventually decided to accept because "there are many fewer women [than men] who can sustain a career to the point where they can be named a dame, and that's not through lack of talent. It was a slightly political gesture".[12] She supported the UK remaining in the European Union in the run-up to the 2016 EU referendum.[13]

Walter, who speaks Russian, performed a reading at the 2022 Poets for Ukraine event alongside the likes of Juliet Stevenson and Meera Syal.[14] In light of the 2023 Israel–Hamas war, Walter was one of over two thousand to sign an Artists for Palestine letter calling for a ceasefire and accusing western governments of "not only tolerating war crimes but aiding and abetting them."[15] She condemned the decision to rescind Caryl Churchill's 2022 European Drama Lifetime Achievement Award over Churchill's support of Palestine and alleged anti-semitism.[16]

Walter is a patron of the Shakespeare Schools Festival, a charity that enables school children across the UK to perform Shakespeare in professional theatres; Prisoners Abroad, a charity that supports Britons imprisoned overseas and their families; and Clean Break, a charity and theatre company dedicated to sharing the stories of imprisoned women and transforming the lives of female offenders through theatre education.[17]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Reflections Ottilie Garinger
1985 The Good Father Emmy Hooper
Turtle Diary Harriet Simms
1990 May Fools Lily
1993 The Hour of the Pig Jeannie Martin
1995 Sense and Sensibility Fanny Dashwood
1996 The Leading Man Liz Flett
1997 Keep the Aspidistra Flying Julia Comstock
1998 Bedrooms and Hallways Sybil
The Governess Mrs. Cavendish
1999 Onegin Madame Larina
2002 Villa des Roses Olive Burrell
2003 Bright Young Things Lady Maitland
2005 Chromophobia Penelope Aylesbury
2006 Babel Lilly
2007 Atonement Emily Tallis
2009 Chéri La Loupiote
The Young Victoria Queen Adelaide
Morris: A Life with Bells On Professor Compton Chamberlayne
From Time to Time Lady Dresham
2012 A Royal Affair Augusta of Saxe-Gotha
The Wedding Video Alex
2014 Suite Française Viscountess de Montmort
2015 Man Up Fran
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Kalonia
2016 Denial Vera Reich
Mindhorn Agent
2017 The Sense of an Ending Margaret
2019 Rocketman Helena Piena
2020 Herself Peggy
2021 The Last Duel Nicole de Buchard
2022 Your Christmas or Mine? Iris
2022 Burial Anna Marshall


Year Title Role Notes
1979 Rebecca Clarice Episode #1.3
1980 The Imitation Game Cathy Raine Television film
1981 The Cherry Orchard Varya Television film
1984 Amy Amy Johnson Television film
1985 The Price Frances Carr 6 episodes
1986 Girls on Top R.S.C. Actress 3 Episode: "Mr. Yummy Brownie"
1987 A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery Harriet Vane Main cast, 10 episodes
1989 Theatre Night Sheila Episode: "Benefactors"
1991 Screen Two Amelia Cleverly Episode: "They Never Slept"
1991 The Men's Room Charity Walton Miniseries, 5 episodes
1991 Ashenden Giulia Lazzari Episode: "The Dark Woman"
1993 Inspector Morse Dr. Esther Martin Episode: "The Day of the Devil"
1993 Performance Mrs. Dorothy Maitland Episode: "The Maitlands"
1994 Hard Times Rachel 4 episodes
1997 A Dance to the Music of Time Mildred Episode: "The Thirties"
1998–1999 Unfinished Business Amy Main cast, 12 episodes
1999 Dalziel and Pascoe Mary Waddell Episode: "Time to Go"
1999 The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns Queen Morag Television film
2001 Waking the Dead Annie Keel Episode: "A Simple Sacrifice"
2003 My Uncle Silas Pamela Farrell Episode: "Shandy Lil"
2004 London Virginia Woolf 2 episodes
2004 Imagine Mother Episode: "The Smoking Diaries"
2004 Spooks Deep Throat Episode: "Who Guards the Guards?"
2005 New Tricks Madeline Episode: "Trust Me"
2005 Messiah Professor Robb 3 episodes
2005 Midsomer Murders Margaret Winstanley Episode: "Orchis Fatalis"
2006 Agatha Christie's Marple Duchess of Malfi Episode: "Sleeping Murder"
2006 Doctors Annie Fenton 4 episodes
2007 Trial & Retribution The Judge Episode: "Paradise Lost: Part 1"
2007 Five Days ACC Jennie Griffin 3 episodes
2007 Ballet Shoes Dr. Smith Television film
2008 The Palace Joanna Woodward Episode #1.1
2008 Fairy Tales Charlotte Brooks Episode: "Cinderella"
2008 10 Days to War Anne Campbell Episode: "Failure Is Not an Option"
2008 Agatha Christie's Poirot Miss Bulstrode Episode: "Cat Among the Pigeons"
2008 Little Dorrit Mrs. Gowan Miniseries, 4 episodes
2009 Hunter ACC Jenny Griffin Miniseries, 2 episodes
2009 A Short Stay in Switzerland Clare Television film
2009–2014 Law & Order: UK Natalie Chandler Main cast, 40 episodes
2013–2015 Downton Abbey Lady Shackleton Recurring role, 4 episodes
2013 Midsomer Murders Diana Davenport Episode: "Death and the Divas"
2013 Heading Out Angela 2 episodes
2013 By Any Means Sally Walker Episode #1.4
2014 The Assets Jeanne Vertefeuille Miniseries, 8 episodes
2015 London Spy Claire Miniseries, 3 episodes
2016 The Crown Clementine Churchill Recurring role, 6 episodes
2017 Call the Midwife Sister Ursula 3 episodes
2017 Black Sails Marion Guthrie 3 episodes
2018 Patrick Melrose Princess Margaret Episode: "Some Hope"
2018 Flowers Hylda Main cast, 5 episodes
2018 Black Earth Rising Eve Ashby 2 episodes
2018 My Dinner with Hervé Baskin Television film
2018–2023 Succession Lady Caroline Collingwood 7 episodes
2019 Curfew Helen Newman 4 episodes
2019 The Spanish Princess Lady Margaret Beaufort Miniseries, 8 episodes
2020 The End Edie 10 episodes
2020 Belgravia Caroline, Countess of Brockenhurst 6 episodes
2020 Killing Eve Dasha 7 episodes
2020 Talking Heads Muriel Episode: "Soldiering On"
2021 Doctor Who Prime Minister Jo Patterson Episode: "Revolution of the Daleks"
2021–2023 Ted Lasso Deborah Welton 4 episodes
2022 Documentary Now! Edwina Episode: "Two Hairdressers in Bagglyport"
2022 This Is Going to Hurt Veronique Recurring character[18]
2023 Silo Martha Walker Main cast[19]
2023 The Cleaner Lisa Episode: "The Transaction"
2023 Archie Elsie Leach
TBA Wolf Hall: The Mirror and the Light Lady Margaret Pole




She was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours[24][4] and promoted to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire (DBE) in the 2011 New Year Honours for services to drama.[25]

In 2001 she and Kenneth Branagh were both given honorary doctorates and honorary fellowships at the Shakespeare Institute in Stratford.

Her performance in Mary Stuart at the Donmar Warehouse transferred to Broadway, where it was nominated for numerous Tony Awards, including Best Actress nods for her and her co-star Janet McTeer.[26]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1988 Laurence Olivier Best Actress in a Revival A Question of Geography / Twelfth Night / Three Sisters Won
1994 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Three Birds Alighting on a Field Nominated
2001 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress Life x 3 Nominated
2005 Evening Standard Award Best Actress Mary Stuart Won
2006 Laurence Olivier Award Best Actress Nominated
2009 Tony Award Best Actress in a Play Nominated
2014 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Play Julius Caesar Nominated
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series The Crown Nominated
2020 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Succession Nominated
2022 Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Ted Lasso Nominated
2023 Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series Succession Nominated
Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Ted Lasso Nominated



  1. ^ "News: Stationers celebrate Times links". InPublishing. 8 April 2011. Archived from the original on 11 March 2012. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  2. ^ Fox, Chloe (3 February 2007). "The world of Harriet Walter, actress". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 24 April 2008. Retrieved 8 February 2021.
  3. ^ Edemariam, Aida (15 January 2011). "Life's looking up, Dame Harriet". The Guardian. London.
  4. ^ a b c "Walter, Harriet Mary". Who's Who. Oxford, England: A & C Black. 1995.
  5. ^ ""A Dorothy L. Sayers Mystery" Strong Poison: Episode One (TV Episode 1987) – IMDb". IMDb. Archived from the original on 6 July 2017. Retrieved 1 July 2018.
  6. ^ Petski, Denise (19 August 2019). "'Killing Eve': Harriet Walter & Danny Sapani Join Cast As Production Begins on Season 3". Deadline. Archived from the original on 19 August 2019. Retrieved 19 August 2019.
  7. ^ Weiss, Josh (19 April 2020). "Who Is Dasha? Dame Harriet Walter Breaks Down Her New 'Killing Eve' Character And That Wedding Crash". Forbes. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  8. ^ Shorter, Eric (6 August 2004). "Obituary: Peter Blythe". The Guardian. London. Archived from the original on 17 December 2015. Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  9. ^ Culture (11 May 2011). "Harriet Walter: 'Why I am getting married at 60'". The Daily Telegraph. London. Archived from the original on 30 July 2013. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  10. ^ Robinson, Abby (8 March 2021). "Harriet Walter: "Your whole casting relationship is built around a man"". Digital Spy. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  11. ^ "Dame Harriet Walter's 'nightmare' title". Inside Nova. 17 April 2023. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  12. ^ Williams, Holly (1 February 2015). "Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment". The Independent. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  13. ^ "In full: Arts figures backing EU Remain campaign". BBC News. 20 May 2016. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  14. ^ Iorizzo, Ellie (25 March 2022). "Harriet Walter: We mustn't tar Russian people with same brush as their leaders". Belfast Telegraph. Retrieved 18 October 2023.
  15. ^ "Tilda Swinton among 2000+ artists calling for Gaza ceasefire". Artists for Palestine. 17 October 2023. Retrieved 17 October 2023.
  16. ^ Sherwood, Harriet (17 November 2022). "Cancellation of award for playwright Caryl Churchill condemned". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2022.
  17. ^ "Shakespeare Schools Foundation Patrons". Shakespeare Schools Foundation. Archived from the original on 11 December 2017. Retrieved 12 July 2021.
  18. ^ Kanter, Jake (24 June 2021). "'This Is Going To Hurt': Harriet Walter, Alex Jennings Join BBC/AMC Series; First Look at Lead Ben Whishaw". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on 24 June 2021. Retrieved 24 June 2021.
  19. ^ ‘Wool’: Harriet Walter, Avi Nash & Chinaza Uche Join Apple’s Dystopian Drama As Series Regulars
  20. ^ "Olivier Winners 1988". The Official London Theatre Guide. 24 April 2008. Archived from the original on 4 May 2010. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
  21. ^ "BBC News report on critical reception". 5 December 2012. Archived from the original on 6 December 2012. Retrieved 6 December 2012.
  22. ^ Brantley, Ben (18 January 2017). "Review: In 'The Tempest,' Liberation and Exhilaration". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 8 November 2020. Retrieved 1 November 2020.
  23. ^ "Scenes of Seduction · British Universities Film & Video Council". Bufvc.ac.uk. 7 March 2005. Archived from the original on 14 March 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  24. ^ "No. 55710". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 1999. p. 11.
  25. ^ "No. 59647". The London Gazette (Supplement). 31 December 2010. p. 6.
  26. ^ "Billy Elliot musical dominates Broadway's Tony award shortlist". The Guardian. London. 5 May 2009. Archived from the original on 7 March 2016. Retrieved 26 November 2010.