Julia McKenzie
Julia McKenzie in 2006
Julia Kathleen Nancy McKenzie[1]

(1941-02-17) 17 February 1941 (age 83)
Enfield, Middlesex, England
  • Actress
  • singer
  • presenter
  • theatre director, manager and producer
Years active1966–present
Jerry Harte
(m. 1971; died 2018)

Julia Kathleen Nancy McKenzie CBE (born 17 February 1941) is an English actress, singer, presenter, and theatre director. She has premièred leading roles written by both Alan Ayckbourn and Stephen Sondheim. On television, she is known for her BAFTA Award nominated role as Hester Fields in the sitcom Fresh Fields (1984–1986) and its sequel French Fields (1989–1991), and as Miss Marple in Agatha Christie's Marple (2009–2013).

McKenzie has also starred in numerous musicals, receiving a 1977 Tony Award nomination for her work in the Broadway revue, Side by Side by Sondheim. A six-time Olivier Award nominee, she has twice won the Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical; for the 1982 revival of Guys and Dolls and the 1993 revival of Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. She also starred in the original London productions of the Sondheim musicals Follies (1987) and Into the Woods (1990). Her film appearances include Bright Young Things (2003) and Notes on a Scandal (2006).

Early life

McKenzie was born on 17 February 1941, in Enfield, Middlesex, England, the daughter of Kathleen Rowe and Albion McKenzie. She attended Woodside High School. She trained at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.[3]



McKenzie's early West End musical credits include Maggie May (1966), Mame (1969), and Company (1971). She appeared in the West End revue Side by Side by Sondheim in 1976, and made her Broadway debut when the show transferred to New York in 1977,[4] receiving a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actress in a Musical. She also received a Drama Desk Award nomination. For her role as Miss Adelaide in the 1982 West End revival of Guys and Dolls, she won the first of two Olivier Awards for Best Actress in a Musical.[5][6]

For her role in the 1986 West End production of the Alan Ayckbourn play Woman in Mind, McKenzie won the Evening Standard Award for Best Actress. She went on to appear in the original West End productions of two Stephen Sondheim musicals, playing Sally in Follies at the Shaftesbury Theatre in 1987,[7] and the Witch in Into the Woods at the Phoenix Theatre in 1990.[8] She continued her association with Sondheim when she starred as Mrs Lovett in the 1993 London revival of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. The role won her a second Olivier Award in 1994.

McKenzie appeared in a National Theatre 80th birthday tribute to Lord Olivier, Happy Birthday, Sir Larry, on 31 May 1987 in the presence of Olivier himself.[9]

Film and television

McKenzie's early television credits include the sitcom Maggie and Her (1978–1979), alongside Irene Handl and That Beryl Marston...! (1981), with Gareth Hunt. She went on to greater popularity with British viewers as Hester in the 1980s sitcom Fresh Fields opposite Anton Rodgers, and its 1990s sequel French Fields, for which she was voted TV Times Favourite Female Comedy Performance for five consecutive years. The role also earned her a 1985 BAFTA nomination for Best Entertainment Performance. She appeared as Mrs Forthby in Blott on the Landscape and as a villager involved in a series of murders in an episode of Midsomer Murders. Film credits include Hotel du Lac (1986), Shirley Valentine (1989), Bright Young Things (2003), These Foolish Things (2006) and Notes on a Scandal (2006).

She was the subject of This Is Your Life in 1981 when she was surprised by Eamonn Andrews outside the Royalty Theatre in London.[citation needed]

In 2007, she was reunited with Anton Rodgers (again as a husband and wife team) in the ITV comedy You Can Choose Your Friends. Also in 2007, she co-starred with Michael Gambon and Judi Dench in the BBC One costume drama series Cranford, playing Mrs. Forrester, a military widow of slender means, very attached to her cow Bessie.[10]

In 2008, she was announced as the replacement for Geraldine McEwan as ITV's Miss Marple.[11] She noted: "It’s difficult because Agatha Christie wrote her in two ways ... First, very much what Geraldine McEwan played: a slight, rather Victorian creature. Then, a little sturdier and tweedier. I chose the latter. A lot of people say they don’t like the tweedier version. But they’re both genuine."[2] Also, she said: "Just about everybody in the world knows about Miss Marple and has an opinion of what she should be like, so I’m under no illusions about the size of the task ahead."[11] McKenzie's first series of Marple comprised A Pocket Full of Rye, Murder Is Easy, They Do It with Mirrors and Why Didn't They Ask Evans?. The second series of the show, which aired in 2010, included The Pale Horse, The Secret of Chimneys, The Blue Geranium, and The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side. A sixth series, including adaptations of A Caribbean Mystery, Greenshaw's Folly and Endless Night, began filming in September 2012 and was broadcast in 2013.

During 2012, she also played the role of Betty Nicholas in the ITV television series The Town.[12]

On 26 December 2013, McKenzie appeared as the title character in the film adaption of David Walliams' book Gangsta Granny. In February 2015, McKenzie appeared as Shirley Mollison in the BBC mini series The Casual Vacancy. She played the mother of one of the main protagonists in the 2019 TV series, Gold Digger. She joined an ensemble cast in the film Allelujah, released in March 2023.

Other work

She is a radio performer with a long list of credits, including Blithe Spirit, The Country Wife and A Room with a View. As a director she has staged Stepping Out, Peter Pan, Hey, Mr. Producer!, Steel Magnolias, Putting It Together and A Little Night Music. Throughout the early mid 2000s she played Ariadne Oliver in radio adaptations of Agatha Christie novels starring John Moffatt as Hercule Poirot; one such novel was Elephants Can Remember.

She also recorded an audio book of Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass.[13]

McKenzie also lent her voice to several animated works for Martin Gates Productions including three films The Snow Queen, Jack and the Beanstalk and The Snow Queen's Revenge and the TV series Bimble's Buckett. In 2018, Julia McKenzie was cast as The Twelve in a Big Finish production The Eighth Doctor – Time War 2 And 4.

Personal life

In 1971 McKenzie married American actor-director Jerry Harte.[2] He died in 2018.[citation needed]. McKenzie was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2018 New Year Honours for services to drama.[14] She is a critic of fox hunting and was among more than 20 high-profile people who signed a letter to members of parliament in 2015 to oppose Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron's plan to amend the Hunting Act 2004.[15]






Feature films

Year Title Role Notes
1975 Dick Deadeye, or Duty Done Rose Maybud
1980 The Wildcats of St. Trinian's Miss Dolly Dormancott
1986 Hotel du Lac Jennifer Pusey
1989 Shirley Valentine Gillian
1996 Vol-au-vent Audrey
The Snow Queen's Revenge The Snow Queen, Freda and Proprietor voice
2003 Bright Young Things Lottie Crump
2006 These Foolish Things Miss Abernethy
Notes on a Scandal Marjorie
2013 Gangsta Granny Granny
2022 Allelujah Mrs. Maudsley

Awards and nominations

Year Award Work Result
1977 Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Actress in a Musical Side by Side by Sondheim Nominated
Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical Nominated
1914 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical On the Twentieth Century Nominated
1982 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical Guys and Dolls Won
1985 BAFTA TV Award for Best Entertainment Performance Fresh Fields Nominated
1986 Olivier Award for Best Actress Woman in Mind Nominated
Evening Standard Award for Best Actress Won
1987 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical Follies Nominated
1991 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical Into the Woods Nominated
1993 Olivier Award for Best Actress in a Musical Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Won

See also


  1. ^ "New Year's Honours 2018" (PDF). Gov.uk. Government Digital Service. 29 December 2017. p. 17. Retrieved 29 December 2017.
  2. ^ a b c Patay, Ajesh (25 August 2009). "Julia McKenzie on Being the New Miss Marple: interview". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
  3. ^ "Julia McKenzie Biography (1941–)". Retrieved 14 March 2014.
  4. ^ Hutchins, Michael H. (compiler)."'Side by Side By Sondheim" Listings" Sondheimguide.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011
  5. ^ "Olivier Winners 1982" Archived 24 May 2013 at the Wayback Machine olivierawards.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011
  6. ^ "Olivier Winners 1994" Archived 24 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine olivierawards.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011
  7. ^ Hutchins, Michael H. (compiler). "'Follies', 1987 London Production" Sondheimguide.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011
  8. ^ Hutchins, Michael H. (compiler)."'Into the Woods', 1990 London production" Sondheimguide.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011
  9. ^ Cast list from Happy Birthday, Sir Larry theatre programme, 31 May 1987
  10. ^ "'Cranford' Characters, Mrs. Forrester" PBS.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011
  11. ^ a b Hemley, Matthew."McKenzie to take on Miss Marple role for ITV" The Stage, 11 February 2008
  12. ^ Wilson, Frances The Town, ITV1, review at The Daily Telegraph, 5 December 2012. Retrieved 16 August 2013
  13. ^ SilkSoundBooks "About Julia McKenzie" silksoundbooks.com. Retrieved 18 August 2011.
  14. ^ Entertainment & Arts team (29 December 2017). "In pictures: Entertainment stars recognised in New Year Honours". BBC News. BBC. Retrieved 30 December 2017.
  15. ^ "SNP to vote against Tories on fox hunting ban in England and Wales". STV. 13 July 2015. Archived from the original on 15 July 2015. Retrieved 17 July 2015.
  16. ^ Cole 1974 production at sondheimguide.com
  17. ^ Dalglish, Darren Kafka's Dick, Piccadilly Theatre (Review) at London Theatre Archive, 26 January 1999
  18. ^ "Key Creatives and Cast" Neal Street Productions, 2022