Keeley Hawes is one of Britain’s most popular and in-demand TV actresses, whose award-winning performances are known for their depth, power and charm.
She is equally adept at playing a cool seductress, a powerful politician or a woman on the brink – and sometimes all at once (see Bodyguard).
In her most recent roles, she appears in Honour as real-life DCI Caroline Goode, who led the investigation into the real-life ‘honour killing’ of Banaz Mahmod; in Russell T. Davies’ racy It’s a Sin as a dowdy, narrow-minded mum in denial about her son’s sexuality in the time of AIDS; and brings her impeccable comic timing to the fore as a frantic premature widow in the darkly satisfying Finding Alice.
The following selection showcases her extraordinary range and versatility.
What will you watch next?
Finding Alice (2021)
Simon Nye and Roger Goldby’s acclaimed six-part drama for ITV is a blackly comic journey of grief, love and starting afresh. For Alice (Keeley Hawes), Harry (Jason Merrells) and their daughter Charlotte (Isabella Pappas), moving into their new home should have been a dream come true. Harry designed the weird and wonderful smart house with every state-of-the-art contraption you could imagine, but when Alice discovers Harry dead at the bottom of the stairs the night they move in, her sense of loss and panic is heightened by the fact she can’t work the lights, flush the loo or find the fridge. Alice soon discovers that Harry’s business was deep in debt – and this isn’t the only secret he kept hidden from her... Joanna Lumley and Nigel Havers also star as Alice’s distinctly unstable parents.
It's a Sin (2021)
“A poignant masterpiece.” Guardian
Queer As Folk creator Russell T. Davies’ hedonistic, proud and intensely moving AIDS-era drama for Channel 4 is a story of friends, lovers and families set to a thumping soundtrack of the gay scene of the 1980s. Ritchie (Olly Alexander), Roscoe (Omari Douglas) and Colin (Callum Scott Howells) move to London, and together with Ritchie’s best friend Jill, (Lydia West), throw themselves into every freedom the city has to offer. Keeley Hawes is flawless as Ritchie’s judgemental, disbelieving but loving mum.
The Durrells Series 1-4 (2016-19)
Keeley Hawes leads the cast in Simon Nye’s gorgeous ITV adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s much-loved Corfu trilogy. In the ever-popular fictionalised autobiography, sparky widow Louisa Durrell (Hawes) makes the radical decision to seek out a new destiny for her family when her options in late 1930s England seem limited to either struggling on or marrying a wealthy but dreary older man. This beautifully-shot series follows the family as they adjust to their new life, face a whole new set of challenges and meet new friends, rivals, lovers – and animals.
The Bodyguard (2018)
“An intoxicating and addictive television cocktail.” IndieWire
Richard Maddon and Keeley Hawes star in Jed Mercurio’s blockbuster BBC political thriller. Troubled war veteran David (Maddon) is assigned to protect controversial and ruthlessly ambitious politician Julia (Hawes) – who may be the target of a terror plot following her support of a controversial new surveillance bill. Meanwhile the bodyguard’s army experiences have left him harbouring deep-seated resentments – which may make him a threat to the politician he is meant to be protecting.
Wives and Daughters (1999)
In Andrew Davies’ widely praised 1999 BBC adaptation of Elizabeth Gaskell's unfinished novel, the decision of long-time widower Mr Gibson (Bill Paterson) to remarry has repercussions for daughter Molly (Justine Waddell), who resents the arrival of her stepmother (Francesca Annis). However, Molly also acquires a stepsister, Cynthia (Keeley Hawes), with whom she forms a close bond. But their friendship is put to the test when they both set their sights on the same man.
Tipping the Velvet (2002)
“Pride and Prejudice with dirty bits.” Andrew Davies
Andrew Davies’ powerful adaptation of Sarah Waters’ acclaimed novel is a frank depiction of lesbianism and a moving account of a young woman searching for her heart. Starring Rachael Stirling, Keeley Hawes and Anna Chancellor, the three-part BBC drama is set amidst the lesbian subculture of 1890s England. In the first episode Nan (Stirling) meets male impersonator Kitty Butler (Hawes) and begins her first affair. Episode two finds Nan voyaging into a sexual underworld where she is drawn under the wing of licentious society widow Diana Lethaby (Chancellor). The final episode sees Nan destitute again, and preparing to make the most important decision of her life.
Upstairs, Downstairs (2010-12)
One of the best-loved television series of all time is reimagined with a stellar cast. It’s 1936, and the house at 165 Eaton Place has stood empty for six years until the doors are flung open by new owners, diplomat Sir Hallam Holland (Ed Stoppard), his wife Lady Agnes (Keeley Hawes), and, back from the Raj, his domineering mother Maud, Lady Holland (Eileen Atkins). Housemaid Rose Buck (Jean Marsh) recruits a colourful new ‘downstairs’ crew including highly strung butler Mr Pritchard (Adrian Scarborough), cook Mrs Thackeray (Anne Reid) and chauffeur Harry Spargo (Neil Jackson). Soon both the elegant upstairs world and the downstairs staff have built their own labyrinths of secrets, lies and scandal, amid tremors of royal and political upheaval and the ominous threat of war.
Line of Duty Series 1-5 (2014-16)
“One of television’s most gripping blockbusters.” Guardian
The BBC’s most popular police procedural, written by Jed Mercurio and starring Martin Compston, Lennie James, Gina McKee, Keeley Hawes, Vicky McClure, Neil Morrissey and Adrian Dunbar. Lives and careers are on the line in this thrilling drama about corruption on the force. Returning cast members are joined as the series unfolds by the likes of Mark Bonnar, Jessica Raine, Leanne Best, Will Mellor and Thandie Newton. It all kicks off when DS Steve Arnott (Compston) is transferred to anti-corruption unit AC-12, and finds his target is the city’s top detective, Tony Gates (James), and Arnott has to engage in a cat-and-mouse struggle to uncover Gates’ secret.
The Missing (2016)
“A studious drama of humanity.” IndieWire
This double DVD features all 16 episodes from the first two series of the BBC drama. In the first, Tony and Emily Hughes (James Nesbitt and Frances O’Connor) travel to France with five-year-old son Oliver (Oliver Hunt). But their family holiday turns into a nightmare as Oliver is abducted on a crowded street, and Tony takes matters into his own hands and begins his own private investigation. In the second, Julien Baptiste (Tchéky Karyo) is drawn into another missing persons case when Alice Webster (Abigail Hardingham), who was missing for more than a decade, returns home out of the blue. But her now-estranged parents Gemma and Sam (Keeley Hawes and David Morrissey) struggle to come to terms with the young woman their daughter has become.
Mrs Wilson (2018)
“Mrs Wilson belies its prosaic title, just as its subject does: more outlandish than any soap plotline, but based on true events. Superb viewing.” Independent
Ruth Wilson stars in this formidable three-part drama inspired by her own grandmother’s extraordinary memoir. Set in London in the 1940s and 1960s, and in India in the 1930s, the series follows Alison Wilson, who believes she is happily married until her husband Alec dies and a woman turns up on the doorstep claiming that she, Gladys, (Elizabeth Rider) is the real Mrs Wilson. Alison is determined to prove the validity of her own marriage – and Alec’s love for her – but is led into a world of disturbing secrets, and discovers the existence of a third wife, Dorothy (Keeley Hawes).
Year of the Rabbit (2019)
An unlikely crime-fighting trio take on the baddies of London’s East End during the Victorian era in Channel 4’s joyfully foulmouthed spoof detective drama. Written by Kevin Cecil and Andrew Riley, whose previous work includes Veep and and Black Books, Matt Berry stars as booze-driven DI Eli Rabbit, with Freddie Fox as his rookie partner Wilbur. They are shadowed by chief inspector’s daughter Mabel (Susan Wokoma), who has ambitions to become the Met’s first female cop. Keeley Hawes’ Lydia is leader of the secretive women’s association The Vision, while Sally Phillips pops up as the scheming Princess Juliana of Bulgaria, who has kidnapped her brother in a desperate bid to rule her homeland…
“Hawes excels in the role, which takes her from tearful vulnerability to steely resolve.” Radio Times
Keeley Hawes stars in ITV’s hard-hitting true crime drama as DCI Caroline Goode, who led the investigation into the real-life ‘honour killing’ of Banaz Mahmod. The 20-year-old Londoner was murdered by her father and uncle after she left her abusive husband and fell in love with another man. DCI Goode was awarded the Queen’s Police Medal for her lengthy investigation that eventually brought the killers to justice.
“A rollicking ride of double-crosses and deception.” Guardian
Channel 4’s riveting period spy thriller stars Emma Appleton, Keeley Hawes and Luke Treadaway. World War II is over and Britain, America and Russia are vying for control of the new world order. Twenty-something aristocrat Feef Symonds (Appleton) was trained to spy in wartime, but never given the chance to test her skills. When she lands a job in the British civil service in the aftermath of a shock Labour election victory, fanatical American agent Rowe (Michael Stuhlbarg) targets her to spy on her own country. Her mission: to root out suspected Soviet penetration of the British government. Hawes is Priscilla Garrick, a high-ranking official in the Cabinet Office and Feef’s superior, and Treadaway plays Labour MP and Tank Regiment veteran Hugh Fenton.
Under the Greenwood Tree (2005)
Nicholas Laughland’s breezy feature-length adaptation of Thomas Hardy’s classic novel for ITV stars Keeley Hawes, James Murray, Ben Miles and Steve Pemberton. Set in a rustic English village in the middle of the 19th century, it tells the story of poor young chorister Dick Dewy (Murray), who falls for middle-class schoolteacher Fancy Day (Hawes), and chronicles his attempts to win her over, against the rival claims of landowner Mr Shinar (Pemberton) and Parson Maybold (Miles).
High Rise (2015)
You will be thrilled – and repulsed – by this bold, faithful adaptation of Ballard’s ever-prescient picture of First World strife.” Empire
Tom Hiddleston stars in Ben Wheatley’s action feature based on J.G Ballard’s classic dystopic novel. Hiddlestone plays rich young doctor Robert Laing, who joins a closed high-rise community designed by renowned architect Anthony Royal (Jeremy Irons), where the floor you live on depends on your status and affluence. Sienna Miller, Luke Evans, Keeley Hawes and Elisabeth Moss co-star, Hawes as Royal’s snobbish wife Ann, who is set for her comeuppance as law-and-order disintegrates and violence becomes the norm.
Our Mutual Friend (1998)
This epic BBC adaptation of Charles Dickens’ last completed novel interweaves a rich array of characters in a complex tale of greed, passion and death in Victorian London. John Harmon (Steven Mackintosh) is betrothed to the beautiful-but-spoilt Bella Wilfer (Anna Friel), who only wishes to marry for money. Then Harmon disappears, apparently drowned, but he has in fact assumed a new identity and found work with his late father’s former employees the Boffins (Peter Vaughan and Pam Ferris). Impoverished Lizzy Hexam (Keeley Hawes) is the story’s moral metronome as she is forced to choose between the selfish Eugene Wrayburn (Paul McGann) and the obsessive Bradley Headstone (David Morrissey).
Summer of Rockets (2019)
“A genuine triumph.” Observer
Stephen Poliakoff’s latest drama for the BBC is a semi-autobiographical Cold War tale set in the late 1950s. Russian émigré and businessman Samuel Petrukhin (Toby Stephens) is determined to integrate his young family into the British establishment. When he meets the captivating Kathleen Shaw (Keeley Hawes) and her husband Richard (Linus Roache), an MP and war hero, he’s dazzled by their upper-class glamour. But then MI5 agents blackmail Samuel into spying on them, and he’s drawn into a dark web of deception. Are these shadowy government operatives guiding him into a deadly trap? Are the Shaws really involved in a plot to betray their nation? The country’s future is shrouded in doubt, and Samuel must decide who he can trust – if anyone.
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