Actresses You Should Know

British Actresses You Should Know: Julie Walters

We’re bringing back our continuing series which features British performers with whom we feel you should be acquainted. This time round I’ve chosen to highlight the legendary English actress and comedienne, Julie Walters.

“Whoa there,” you might be saying. “Of course, I know who Julie Walters is.” She's been nominated for Oscars and she's won Baftas and a Golden Globe. If you don't know her, perhaps you should have your Anglophile card revoked!

But what I want to share are some of Julie's lesser known roles that you may not have seen before (or perhaps had forgotten about).

British Actresses You Should Know: Miranda Hart

Though actress Miranda Hart is not yet a household name in the United States, for those of us who faithfully watch Call the Midwife, we’ll never forget when we met Camilla Fortescue-Cholmeley-Browne for the first time.

It’s interesting to note that although Hart has become known to American audiences for her dramatic work, in the UK she is recognized first and foremost as a beloved and accomplished British comedic actress and writer. Seeing as Hart is so much more than Chummy (and someone I not-so-secretly would like to be my BFF) I wanted to let you in how you can witness the chaotic, awkward and fun-loving nature that, for me, is the essence of Miranda Hart.

Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess of Grantham in "Downton Abbey". (Photo: Courtesy of ©Carnival Film & Television Limited 2011 for MASTERPIECE

British Actresses You Should Know: The Great Dame Maggie Smith

The great Dame Maggie Smith celebrates the anniversary of her birth on December 28, and since she herself is a treasure that deserves to be celebrated basically every day of the calendar year, it seemed fitting to include her in our guide to British Actors You Should Know. (Many happy returns, Dame Maggie! We love you!)

Obviously, we’re pretty sure that you in fact do know who Maggie Smith is. She’s such an accomplished performer that it would be hard to have missed her completely. But, whether you know her primarily as Downton Abbey’s acid-tongue matriarch or Harry Potter’s awesome Transfiguration teacher, Smith has a back catalogue of work that’s well worth checking out if you haven’t seen the bulk of it before.

A few favorites are below – and this list is in no way comprehensive of everything she’s done, just warning y’all about that up front.

British Actresses You Should Know: The Many Faces of Catherine Tate

Normally when we do these British Actors You Should Know installments, Lacy or I choose a talented British performer and then introduce you, the readers, to a sampling of their TV and film work. This time I’ve selected Catherine Tate as my featured actress.

Sure she’s played my favorite Doctor Who companion Donna Noble, appeared as James McAvoy’s mother in the delightful comedy Starter for 10 and even crossed the pond to join the cast of the American Office for their final two seasons. But I’ve elected to highlight her sketch comedy work from The Catherine Tate Show. This wide range of characters display Tate’s talents for memorable catchphrases, comic timing and a hilarious ability to transform into characters of any age, class or gender. Let’s meet a few, shall we?

British Actresses You Should Know: Tamsin Greig

The British actresses I like to watch most are the funny ladies. I have an affinity for British comedy anyway, but comediennes tend to show that awkward, less- than-perfect side that make them endearing; the type of woman you’d befriend rather than consider a rival.

The actress I’m introducing you to today is one of those funny ladies who isn’t afraid to look a little clumsy or less than lady-like. It just so happens I’ve copied her trademark pixie-esque hairstyle more than once. Odd how I never look anything like her afterwards…

Her name is Tamsin Grieg, and you may not know who she is. But she's an actress who's worth checking out.

British Actresses You Should Know: Romola Garai

Thought it might be time to spotlight another woman during our British Actors and Actresses You Should Know series, so here’s a look at a one of the most interesting up and coming ladies in the field, Romola Garai. You’ve probably seen here in something, whether it was her star turn in news drama The Hour, her role in Best Picture-nominated film Atonement or her dance moves in sequel Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights. (It’s also possible you heard about her speech at the 2013 BAFTA Awards, which got really personal, really quick about the recent birth of her child and made more than a few headlines.)

But, regardless of how much or how little you know about this actress, her career to date is so varied that it’s likely you’ve missed a few of her projects along the way. Here’s a look at some of them – and why they’re worth your time.

British Actresses You Should Know: Olivia Colman

Welcome to a new series we’ll be doing here at Telly Visions – introductions to some of our favorite British actors and actresses and their work. (Yes, this means a Cumberbatch post along these lines is absolutely going to show up at some point in the future. But you probably already knew that.) This also marks Carmen’s first Telly Visions post, so stop in and say hello!

As a binge watcher of British television I’ve come to appreciate many fine actors who are unfamiliar to most American TV viewers. As a person who writes about British television, I’m eager to share my “discoveries” with like-minded Anglophiles. I have always been, first and foremost, a fan. Be warned! I have a tendency to gush, sometimes to an embarrassing degree, when discussing my favorites.

So for my very first Telly Visions post ever, I’d like to highlight a most brilliant and delightful actress, one I think every telly fanatic should know - Olivia Colman. If her name sounds familiar, you may have read about her recent double win at the 2013 BAFTA Television awards where she picked up one statuette for a comedic role and the other for a dramatic one.

If she hasn’t made an impression on you yet, no doubt she will she will very soon. Colman’s most recent project, the popular ITV crime drama Broadchurch, aired this spring in the UK and will be coming to BBC America in August. She co-stars with David Tennant, Arthur Darvill (Doctor Who’s Rory Williams) and Andrew Buchan (Garrow’s Law). I can’t wait!

But I digress…

If I’ve piqued your curiosity, you might want to watch some of the television shows and film clips provided below. They serve as my introduction to the talented and versatile, Olivia Colman.