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Olivia Colman's Biography

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Early Life

Olivia Colman was born Sarah Colman on 30 January 1974 and was brought up in Norfolk. Her father was a surveyor and her mother was a nurse.

She went to Cambridge to teacher training college and met Robert Webb and David Mitchell, after she auditioned for the Footlights.

After Cambridge, she went to the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School.

Acting Work

Amongst her earliest and most significant credits was Peep Show, where she starred as Sophie, alongside Mitchell and Webb.

Whilst many of her credits were comedies, such as Green Wing, Black Books and Swiss Toni, Olivia Colman pointed out to The Telegraph: “I’ve always done drama ... But I suppose Tyrannosaur was a bit of a watershed moment for me. It was like when Kathy Burke did Nil By Mouth — suddenly, people were saying, 'oh, she can do that, too’.”

Colman's work on Tyrannosaur saw her win a World Cinema Special Jury Prize for breakout performance at Sundance, and best actress at the British Independent Film Awards and the Evening Standard British Film Awards.

Her other award winning or nominated roles have included playing DS Ellie Miller in ITV’s Broadchurch (BAFTA for Best Leading Actress in 2014), playing Alex Smallbone in BBC Two’s Rev (nominated for Best Female Performance in a Comedy Drama at the 2015 BAFTAs); playing Sally Owen in the BBC's Twenty Twenty (2013 BAFTAs for Female Performance in a Comedy Programme), playing Sue in Accused (Bafta for Best Supporting Actress also 2013).

Olivia Colman's film credits include The Iron Lady, Locke, Cuban Fury and Hot Fuzz. 

In 2016, she was cast as Angela Burr in the BBC's adaptation of John le Carré’s The Night Manager.

In September 2016, Channel Four confirmed there would be a second series of Flowers with Olivia Colman as Deborah.

In 2017 she was nominated for a BAFTA for best female comedy performance for her role in BBC Three's Fleabag.

In the same year, it was revealed that Olivia Colman would play the Queen in series 3 and 4 of The Crown.

In 2018, she received several plaudits for her role as Queen Anne in The Favourites, including winning an Oscar, a Golden Globe and a Bafta.

In 2019, she was awarded the CBE for services to drama.

In January 2020, she won a Golden Globe for best actress in a drama series for her work in the third series of The Crown.

In 2022, she was nominated for an Golden Globe for best actress for her role in Empire of Light.

In 2023, she was cast as Mrs Scrubbit in Wonka. The cast included Hugh Grant and Matt Lucas.

In 2024, she starred in the film Wicked Little Letters.

Charity Work

She is a patron for the anti-domestic violence charity Tender.

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