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Penelope Alice WiltonBorn: Mon 3rd June 1946 (age: 66)
Penelope Wilton, OBE is an English actress of stage, film and TV. Chiefly famous for starring opposite Richard Briers in the BBC situation comedy Ever Decreasing Circles, she has also appeared in Doctor Who and the period drama Downton Abbey, among many other productions. She has twice won the Critics Circle Theatre Award. Wilton has been married to two distinguished actors, Daniel Massey and Ian Holm.
Penelope Alice Wilton was born in Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire, the daughter of Alice Travers, a tap dancer and former actress, and Clifford Wilton, a businessman. She is a niece of actors Bill Travers and Linden Travers and a cousin of the actor Richard Morant. Her maternal grandparents owned theatres. She and her sisters, Rosemary and Linda, attended the convent school inNewcastle upon Tyne at which their mother had previously taught. Penelope had a successful stage career before breaking into television, and her West End debut was opposite Sir Ralph Richardson.
Her television career began in 1972, playing Vivie Warren in Mrs. Warren's Profession opposite Robert Powell. She then had several major TV roles, including two of the BBC Television Shakespeare productions (as Desdemona in Othello and Regan in King Lear).
Wilton's film career includes roles in The French Lieutenant's Woman (1981), Cry Freedom (1987), Iris (2001), Calendar Girls (2003) andShaun of the Dead (2004), Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice (2005), in Woody Allen's film Match Point (2005) and in The History Boys(2006).
However she did not become a household name until she appeared with Richard Briers in the 1984 BBC situation comedy, Ever Decreasing Circles which ran for five years. In it she played Ann, long suffering wife of Martin (Briers), an obsessive pedant 'do-gooder'.
In 2005 Wilton guest starred as Harriet Jones, MP for two episodes in Doctor Who. This guest role was written especially for her by the programme's chief writer and executive producer Russell T. Davies, with whom she had previously worked on Bob and Rose (ITV, 2001). The character of Jones returned as Prime Minister in "The Christmas Invasion", the Doctor Who 2005 Christmas special. In the first part of the 2008 series finale, The Stolen Earth, she made a final appearance, now as the former Prime Minister who sacrifices herself to the Daleks so that the Doctor's companions can contact him. She appeared in four episodes overall.
Wilton has also appeared on television as Barbara Poole, the mother of a missing woman, in the BBC television drama series Five Days in 2005; and in ITV's drama Half Broken Things (October 2007) and the BBC production of The Passion (Easter 2008). In 2010 and 2011, she appeared as Isobel Crawley in the first and second series of the hit period drama Downton Abbey. She was the castaway on BBC Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in April 2008.
She has twice won the Critics Circle Theatre Award – in 1981 for her performance in Much Ado About Nothing, and in 1993 for The Deep Blue Sea. In 2001 she was nominated for the London Evening Standard Theatre Award for her performance in The Little Foxes at theDonmar Warehouse. In 2004 she was made an Officer of the British Empire (OBE) for her services to drama.
Biography from the Wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA