Joanna Scanlan
Scanlan in 2019
Joanna Marion Scanlan

(1961-10-27) 27 October 1961 (age 62)
Alma materQueens' College, Cambridge
  • Actress
  • writer
Years active1997–present

Joanna Marion Scanlan (born 27 October 1961) is a British actress and writer. On television, she is known for her roles in The Thick of It (2005–2012),[1] Big School (2013–2014), Puppy Love (2014), No Offence (2015–2018), Requiem (2018), and The Larkins (2021). She was nominated for three BAFTA TV Awards for Getting On (2009–2012), including two for Best Writing.

Scanlan's film appearances include Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003), Notes on a Scandal (2006), The Invisible Woman (2013), and Bridget Jones's Baby (2016).[2] She won a British Academy Film Award and a British Independent Film Award for her performance in the film After Love (2020).

Early life

Scanlan was born on 27 October 1961 in West Kirby, then in Cheshire, the daughter of hoteliers Michael and Patricia Scanlan.[3] Although born in England, her family comes from North Wales.[4] She moved to North Wales with her parents at the age of three, where she grew up.[5]

She attended Brigidine Convent and Howell's School in Denbigh, as well as New Hall School in Chelmsford, Essex.[6]

She studied history at Queens' College, Cambridge and joined the Cambridge Footlights, where she became friends with Tilda Swinton.[5]


After graduation, Scanlan joined the academic staff of Leicester Polytechnic lecturing in drama for five years, before she undertook a similar role at the Arts Council of Great Britain for three years.[7] After the Arts Council of Great Britain was split in 1994, at age 34 Scanlan decided to try becoming a professional actor, quickly gaining the role as a nurse in ITV1's Peak Practice. This formed somewhat of a theme in her early career, then playing a midwife in The Other Boleyn Girl with Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson, before playing a nurse again alongside Ade Edmondson's doctor in ill-fated Doctors and Nurses, and latterly Dr Diana Dibbs in Doc Martin with Martin Clunes.[8]

Scanlan is known for her portrayal of Terri Coverley, the notoriously useless senior press officer for the Department of Social Affairs and Citizenship in the British comedy television series The Thick of It from 2005 to 2012.

Among her successes is Scanlan's dark satirical NHS drama Getting On, which she starred and co-wrote with Jo Brand and Vicki Pepperdine. The series earned her a BAFTA nomination for Best Female Performance in a Comedy and a BAFTA Television Craft nomination for screenwriting in both 2011 and 2013.[9] They were also nominated for Best Comedy Screenwriting at the Royal Television Awards in 2010[10] and Best Comedy at the South Bank Sky Arts Awards in 2011. The comedy series was adapted for an American audience with HBO, with Scanlan on board as an executive producer to closely work on script development. Scanlan was a guest star in the American version, reprising her role as Denise Flixter. The Emmy-nominated show ran for three seasons between 2013 and 2015.

Scanlan and Vicki Pepperdine teamed up again to write and star in their BBC Four comedy series Puppy Love, which follows two women at their dog training classes on the Wirral. Under their production company George and George Co., they are currently adapting Puppy Love with HBO for America and a new sitcom This Land is Ours[11] is in development for US Network IFC.

Scanlan plays lead character DI Inspector 'Viv Deering' in Paul Abbott's BAFTA nominated and RTS award-winning primetime drama, No Offence.

Scanlan appeared as Cathy in the 2016 romantic comedy Bridget Jones's Baby.[12]

Other film credits include Charles Dickens' wife in The Invisible Woman and roles in Get Santa, Testament of Youth, In the Loop, The Bad Education Movie, The Other Boleyn Girl, Stardust, Notes on a Scandal, Girl With A Pearl Earring, Pin Cushion, After Love and Kinky Boots.

Additional television credits include Death Comes To Pemberley, Fungus the Bogeyman, Mapp and Lucia, Heading Out, Stella, Doc Martin, One Foot in the Grave and Spaced.

On stage, Scanlan has worked with Thea Sharrock in her production of Cloud 9 at the Almeida Theatre and Top Girls, with Rufus Norris in Vernon God Little at the Young Vic, and featured in Polly Teale's Madame Bovery.

Scanlan appeared in the first two episodes of McDonald & Dodds in 2020. In 2021, Scanlon played Ma opposite Bradley Walsh’s Pop in The Larkins.

In March 2022, she received the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role for the film After Love (2020).[13] Scanlan gave thanks in Welsh, "Diolch yn fawr iawn as we say in my country! BAFTA thank you so much...some stories have surprising endings don't they," and also thanked the film’s writer and director and the crew.[14]

Personal life

Scanlan and her husband Neil live in South Croydon, London.[15][16]

Scanlan learned Welsh during S4C's Iaith ar Daith series.[17][18]

On the 7 June 2023, Joanna became Patron of The David Lean Cinema, a community cinema based in the Clocktower of Croydon Town Hall. [19]



Year Title Role
2003 Girl with a Pearl Earring Tanneke
2005 A Little Trip to Heaven Josie
2005 Kinky Boots Trish
2006 Notes on a Scandal Sue Hodge
2007 Stardust Mormo
2007 Grow Your Own Barbara
2008 The Other Boleyn Girl Mary's Midwife
2009 In the Loop Roz
2011 Hot Hot Hot Mary-Ann
2013 The Invisible Woman Catherine Dickens
2014 Get Santa Ruth
2014 Testament of Youth Aunt Belle
2015 The Bad Education Movie Susan Poulter
2016 Bridget Jones's Baby Cathy
2017 How to Talk to Girls at Parties Marion
2017 Tulip Fever Mrs. Overvalt
2018 Pin Cushion Lyn
2019 How to Build a Girl Mrs. Belling
2020 After Love Mary
2022 This is Christmas Linda[20]
TBA Wicked Little Letters


Year Title Role Notes
1997 Jane Eyre Bessie
2000 Spaced Tina
2000 Coming Soon Claudia
2001 My Family Dental Assistant
2001 Fun at the Funeral Parlour Mrs Marion Boubes
2005–2012 The Thick of It Terri Coverley Main role
2009 Home Time Mrs Pitman
2009–2012 Getting On Sister Den Flixster Also written by Scanlan
2011 Doc Martin Dr Diana Dibbs
2012 Stella Nancy
2013 Heading Out Toria
2013 Death Comes To Pemberley Mrs Reynolds
2013–2014 Big School Mrs Janine Klebb
2014 Puppy Love Nana V Main Role
2014 The Killings of Copenhagen Clara Trout
2014 Rev. Jill Mallory
2014 Mapp and Lucia Ursula "Ursy" Pillson
2015 Fungus the Bogeyman Mildrew
2015–2018 No Offence DI Vivienne Deering Main role
2016 Hooten & the Lady Penny McQuinn
2017 Requiem Janice Gray Main role
2017 Philip K. Dick's Electric Dreams Su
2018 Sally4Ever Stella
2018 The Woman in White Mrs Vesey
2018 I'll Get This Herself Dinner guest; 1 episode
2018–2019 Hold the Sunset Sandra 2 series
2019 The Accident Angela Griffiths
2020 Dracula Mother Superior
2020 McDonald & Dodds Kelly Mulcreevy 2 episodes
2021–2022 The Larkins Ma Larkin
2022–present Y Golau / The Light in the Hall Sharon
2022 Gentleman Jack Isabella "Tib" Norcliffe 2 episodes
2022 Avenue 5 Johanna
2023 Tabby McTat Pat (voice) Upcoming[21]
2023 Black Ops Chief Inspector Garner
2023 Boat Story Pat Tooh Series
TBA Slow Horses TBA Season 4
TBA A Very Royal Scandal Amanda Thirsk In production[22]

Awards and nominations

Year Award Category Work Result Ref
2010 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Best Television Comedy Getting On Won
Royal Television Society Awards Writer – Comedy Nominated
British Academy Television Awards Best Female Comedy Performance Nominated
2011 Broadcasting Press Guild Awards Writer's Award Nominated
Royal Television Society Awards Writer – Comedy Won
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Writer Nominated
2013 Writers' Guild of Great Britain Best Television Comedy Won
Royal Television Society Awards Writer – Comedy Nominated
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Writer: Comedy Nominated
2018 Evening Standard British Film Awards Best Actress Pin Cushion Nominated
2020 Thessaloniki International Film Festival Best Actress After Love Won
2021 Dublin International Film Festival Best Actress Won
British Independent Film Awards Best Performance by an Actress Won
2022 London Film Critics Circle Actress of the Year Nominated
British/Irish Actress of the Year Nominated
British Academy Film Awards Best Actress in a Leading Role Won


  1. ^ BBC Comedy Blog: The Thick of It's Joanna Scanlan on playing Terri
  2. ^ Joanna Scanlan, one of Britain's great comic actors
  3. ^ Saner, Emine (21 February 2022). "'All that Hollywood glamour doesn't feel like me at all': Joanna Scanlan on self-doubt, sexism and being the red-hot favourite at the Baftas". The Guardian.
  4. ^ "Pobol fel Joanna Scanlan "ydi dyfodol yr iaith"". Lingo360 (in Welsh). 12 October 2022. Retrieved 2 March 2023.
  5. ^ a b Saner, Emine (27 January 2014). "Joanna Scanlan: 'Depression was like turning around a liner across the ocean'". Retrieved 23 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Joanna Scanlan: Who is After Love BAFTA winner? What films has Joanna Scanlan been in?".
  7. ^ Veronica Lee (10 February 2013). "Joanna Scanlan: From bumbling Whitehall press officer in The Thick of It to lifestyle coach in Heading Out". The Independent. Archived from the original on 9 June 2022. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC - Press Office - The Thick Of It Joanna Scanlan biography".
  9. ^ "Television Awards Winners in 2010". BAFTA. Archived from the original on 30 May 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  10. ^ "RTS Programme Awards 2009". Royal Television Society. Archived from the original on 22 June 2010. Retrieved 6 June 2010.
  11. ^ "Getting On stars create new American sitcom This Land is Ours". British Comedy Guide. 22 April 2016. Retrieved 31 March 2017.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Baftas 2022: The Power of the Dog wins best picture and director". The Guardian. 13 March 2022.
  14. ^ Colderick, Stephanie (13 March 2022). "Joanna Scanlan thanks BAFTA in Welsh as she accepts award for leading actress". WalesOnline. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  15. ^ Mance, Henry (25 November 2015). "interview: Joanna Scanlan, one of Britain's great comic actors". Financial Times. Retrieved 21 November 2019.
  16. ^ "Joanna Scanlan: Everything you need to know about The Light in the Hall star". HELLO!. 4 January 2023. Retrieved 2 March 2023.
  17. ^ Colderick, Stephanie (13 March 2022). "Joanna Scanlan thanks BAFTA in Welsh as she accepts award for leading actress". WalesOnline. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  18. ^ Peregrine, Chris (1 March 2021). "A new group of celebrities are learning Welsh for popular TV series". WalesOnline. Retrieved 20 February 2023.
  19. ^,Katharine%20Street%2C%20Croydon%20on%20Wednesday.
  20. ^ "Kaya Scodelario and Alfred Enoch to star in Sky rom-com This Christmas". Radio Times.
  21. ^ "BBC announces Tabby McTat, a star-studded animation based on the book by Julia Donaldson and Axel Scheffler". Retrieved 16 May 2023.
  22. ^ Otterson, Joe (20 November 2023). "Michael Sheen, Ruth Wilson to Star in 'A Very Royal Scandal' Amazon Series Based on Prince Andrew Interview With Emily Maitlis". Variety. Retrieved 22 November 2023.