Tuesday, 18 May 2021

I have no secrets

"The curious thing is that I embraced homosexuality with as much joy and delight as I've embraced everything else in my life."

"I'm not the sort of woman men boast of having slept with."

"I may have a talent for acting, but I am incapable of doing anything else."

"I have no secrets. I decided very early on in life that the strongest position was to be completely open."

"I'm not really a practising Jew but I keep a kosher kitchen just to spite Hitler."

One of our ultimate "national treasures", the first person to say "fuck" on British television [when she was in the student team from Newnham College, Cambridge in the first series of University Challenge], the one-woman whirlwind that is Miriam Margolyes is 80 years old today!

As I wrote on the occasion of her 70th [lordy, this blog's been going a long time!]:

She voiced all the female characters in those classic Chinese romps so beloved of my childhood, The Water Margin and Monkey!, was the voice of the Cadbury's Caramel rabbit, appeared in the comedy sketch show A Kick Up The 80s alongside Tracey Ullman and Rik Mayall, guest starred in Blackadder, was Aunt Sponge in James and the Giant Peach, and played to type as Julie T Walters' lesbian lover in the fabulous Life and Loves of a She-Devil. She specialises in character roles, particularly in Shakespeare and in Dickens adaptations, was the Cornish housekeeper in Ladies in Lavender, and is probably most famous internationally as Professor Sprout in Harry Potter - phew!

Miss Margolyes' biggest selling-point over the years has been her mellifluous voice - not only has she made a good living from voice-overs, but she also dedicates a lot of her time to reading audio-books for the visually impaired, as well as for the commercial market. Most successful of these was her Dickens' Women, which she did for the BBC (as well as on stage across the world). My mother loved it.

click to embiggen

Since then, of course, she has continued her remarkable career in both the UK and her adopted Australia [she's been with her Australian girlfriend since 1968] with no sign of slowing down - she notably played "Aunt Prudence" in the faboo Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries from 2012 to 2015 and "Mim" in the weird mother-daughter black comedy series Bucket, as well as character roles in Doc Martin, Merlin and Trollied.

She also appeared alongside Sylvester McCoy, Wayne Sleep, Roy Walker, Rosemary Shrager, Bobby George, Patti Boulaye, Jan Leeming and Sheila Ferguson in the reality TV show The Real Marigold Hotel, is a regular (and outspoken) guest on chat shows including This Morning and Graham Norton, and was most recently on our screens playing "Mother Mildred" in the widly popular 1950s soap/drama series Call The Midwife [her quote about that: “I’m a Jewish lesbian who hates Christmas, what am I doing playing a nun in the most-viewed program on British television on Christmas Day?"]. 

Not content with all that, she's also been busy on stage - indeed, in 2017 we went to see her camp turn as Helena Rubinstein, opposite the marvellous Frances Barber, in Madame Rubinstein [see my post about it]. Phew, again!

Many happy returns, Miriam Margolyes OBE (born 18th May 1941)!

Here's a range of examples of Miss Margolyes' talent:


  • In the 1970s she recorded a soft-porn audio called Sexy Sonia: Leaves from my Schoolgirl Notebook.
  • She won a Best Supporting Actress BAFTA for her role in Martin Scorsese's The Age of Innocence in 1993.
  • She was one of the original cast of the London production of the musical Wicked in 2006, playing Madame Morrible opposite Idina Menzel.
  • On becoming an Australian citizen on Australia Day 2013 she referred to herself as a "dyke" live on national television and in front of then-prime minister Julia Gillard.
  • She was the voice of "Fly the sheepdog" in the movie Babe, one of the PG Tips Chimps, and even voiced a "Right Eyeball" in an episode of Family Guy.


  1. I adore me some Miriam Margolyes!!!! I like her in Call the Midwife...but it's her Aunt Prudence" in Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries that is quite a jewel. She is so proper, yet, wily on there. And that is a excellent show btw...chic very stylish and just enough flirting with Frannie Fisher and the DC inspector.

    1. We haven't watched Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries in an absolute age - the link in the post above was to my tribute to the show back in 2013(!) - but it was "the icing on the cake" to find that Miriam Margolyes was in it! Jx

  2. Adore... have watched all of her appearances on Graham Norton via YouTube. Priceless. No wonder he keeps having her on. She's a hoot. Movies: Love You To Death, Cold Comfort Farm (one of my all-time fave movies), Ed and His Dead Mother, and of course Ladies In Lavender (I even bought the soundtrack). Thanks for this. Kizzes.

    1. She is probably the most candid guest a chat show could wish for! Love her... Jx

  3. Did you see the series (BBC?) about the elderly folk going to India for cheaper surgery? It was like a real-life 'Best Marigold Hotel'
    I love her in anything!

    1. I mentioned it in this post! Jx

      PS Never watched it, though...

    2. How the hell did I not see that Probably too busy laughing at the rest of it.

  4. one-woman whirlwind indeed
    Adorable and adored. I love everything she has done and she reads Shakespeare beautifully.

    1. She does have the most beautiful speaking voice. Jx


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