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Brenda Blethyn

Brenda Blethyn

Feb. 20th, 1946
Born in
Ramsgate, Kent, England, UK
5' 2"

Brenda Blethyn's Main TV Roles

Show Character(s)
Vera (UK) TV Show
Vera (UK)
Chance In A Million (UK) TV Show
Chance In A Million (UK)
Mary And Martha (UK) TV Show
Mary And Martha (UK)
Outside Edge (UK) TV Show
Outside Edge (UK)
The Labours Of Erica (UK) TV Show
The Labours Of Erica (UK)

Main Movie Roles

Guest TV Roles

[none found]


After twenty years of hard work on stage and both television and stage, there are not many other actresses who deserved the success, recognition and stardom which Brenda Blethyn has now achieved.

Born in 1946 in Ramsgate in Kent, England, she started her career at British Rail in the 1960s. Saving money during her time there, she took a risk and enrolled herself at the at The Guildford School of Acting in Guildford, Surrey, England and then left her British Rail years behind. Her risk had paid off, by the mid-1970s she was working on stage, eventually joining the National Theatre Company in 1975.

It was the 1980s, however that saw Brenda move onto the small screen when she appeared in a BBC2 Playhouse presentation called "BBC2 Playhouse" (1974) {Grown-Ups (#7.5)}, playing the character Gloria. Other work in television quickly followed and this kept her working throughout the 1980s.

She still remained relatively unknown with the viewing public during the 1980s, despite her consistent work and superb acting abilities. It was not until the dawn of the 90s that her career took off. In 1990, she played the supporting cast member role of Mrs Jenkins in film based on the Roald Dahl novel The Witches (1990), with Anjelica Huston, Jane Horrocks and Mai Zetterling. Film work now became the order of the day in the early 90s, appearing in both A River Runs Through It (1992) and the television film "Screen One" (1985) {The Bullion Boys (#5.8)}. It was then back to a TV series in 1994, with "Outside Edge" (1994), working on this production for its two-year run.

It is without a doubt that 1997 will be remembered as her biggest year to date. She was cast by her old friend Mike Leigh in the film Secrets & Lies (1996) as Cynthia Rose Purley, opposite highly talented Marianne Jean-Baptiste. The film received storming reviews and Blethyn won a BAFTA Film Award and subsequently received an Academy Award nomination for her role, along with Jean-Baptiste.

Although Brenda came home from the Oscars empty handed, her profile in Hollywood and Britain soared as a result of the nomination and her appearance on The 69th Annual Academy Awards (1997) (TV).

Film roles then came thick and fast following Secrets & Lies (1996). Brenda was nothing short of superb in Little Voice (1998). A second Academy Award nomination followed but once again she was the bridesmaid rather than the bride at the Oscars. Since 1996, she has found a new home in film and she has worked consistently in the medium.

  • Took part in the 2002 London Marathon.
  • Is the youngest of nine children. Her father was an engineer.
  • She was awarded the 1981 London Critics' Circle Theatre Award (Drama Theatre Awards) for Best Supporting Actress of 1980 for her performance in Steaming.
  • Nominated for the 1984 Laurence Olivier Award for her work in "Benefactors" (Actress of the Year in a New Play).
  • She was awarded the O.B.E. (Officer of the Order of the British Empire) in the 2003 Queen's New Year's Honours List for her services to drama.
  • Wears a size 3 shoe.
  • Was born with an extra finger.
  • Graduated from technical college and worked as a stenographer and bookkeeper until her late twenties.

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