Doctor Doctor Who Guide

Julia Sawalha

Last updated 20 April 2015


Julia Sawalha - Image Credit: Getty Images
Image Credit: Getty Images (this image appears for illustrative purposes only and no attempt is made to supersede any copyright attributed to it)

Julia Sawalha

Born: Monday 9th September 1968 (age: 51)

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Julia Sawalha is an English actress known mainly for her role as Saffron Monsoon in Absolutely Fabulous. She is also known for portraying Lynda Day, editor of the Junior Gazette, in Press Gang and Lydia Bennet in the 1995 television miniseries of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Additionally, she played Dorcas Lane in the BBC's costume drama Lark Rise to Candleford and Carla Borrego in Jonathan Creek.

Sawalha was born in London, the daughter of Roberta Lane and actor Nadim Sawalha. She was named after her grandmother, a Jordanian businesswoman who had received an award from Queen Noor for enterprise. She is of Jordanian, English, and French Huguenot ancestry. As part of an acting family, Sawalha's father Nadim appeared in the James Bond movies The Spy Who Loved Me and The Living Daylights, while her sister Nadia starred in the soap EastEnders and is now a television presenter and chat show host.

Sawalha made her debut in the 1982 BBC miniseries Fame is the Spur and in 1988, played a small role in Inspector Morse on the episode "Last Seen Wearing". She first gained attention for her starring role in the Bafta award-winning ITV teenage comedy/drama Press Gang, which ran from 1989 to 1993.

In 1992 she starred in episode "Parade" (S2 E4) of "Bottom" as Veronica Head, a beautiful young barmaid at the Lamb and Flag, whom Richie tries to woo by boasting of his false adventures in the Falklands.

From 1991–94, she starred in the ITV family comedy Second Thoughts and continued with her character, Hannah (Lynda Bellingham's daughter), in the British Comedy Award-winning Faith in the Future (1995–98). In 1994, she played Mercy (Merry) Pecksniff in the BBC production of Martin Chuzzlewit.

From 1992 to 2012, Sawalha played strait-laced daughter Saffron Monsoon in the BBC sitcom Absolutely Fabulous alongside Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley. She starred in the 1995 BBC adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice as Lydia Bennet, co-starring opposite Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth. She also voiced Ginger in DreamWorks/Aardman's Chicken Run. In addition, on Christmas Eve, in The Flint Street Nativity, she played Dawn "the wise man".

In 2000, she appeared as Janet, the Australian barmaid ("Built for bar work; it's instinct... instinct!!") in the first series of the British sitcom Time Gentlemen Please. The following year, she became Alan Davies's co-star in Jonathan Creek after Caroline Quentin left, appearing in a Christmas Special ("Satan's Chimney"). She returned for a series between 2003–2004.

In 2006, she participated in the third series of the genealogy documentary series Who Do You Think You Are? tracing her family's roots, which are Jordanian Bedouin on her father's side, and French Huguenot on her mother's. She also appeared in the pilot of BBC 1's A Taste of my Life presented by Nigel Slater. After a two-year break, she was back on screen in May 2007, competing in the BBC dog training celebrity reality show The Underdog Show. She then returned to acting in two successive BBC costume dramas; as Jessie Brown in 2007 series Cranford, followed by Lark Rise to Candleford in 2008.

Sawalha lived with Press Gang co-star Dexter Fletcher, and subsequently comedian Richard Herring. She also had a relationship with Patrick Marber. She reportedly had an affair with actor Keith Allen.

On 1 January 2004, it was alleged in the tabloid newspapers that she had married boyfriend Alan Davies, her co-star in the television series Jonathan Creek. Both she and Davies, who avoided discussing their private lives in public, denied this, and took legal action against the reports.

After she met Rich Annetts at the Glastonbury Festival in 2005, the couple moved to Bath, Somerset, and lived in a flat close to the Royal Crescent. Sawalha started growing her own vegetables, attending yoga lessons and studying for an Open University English degree. Sawalha and Annetts have since split up.

Biography from the wikipedia article, licensed under CC-BY-SA