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‘ postponed from April because of the health crisis.
Helen is equally at the top of her game. The daughter of a Scots-born diplomat, she had a peripatetic childhood, growing up in countries from Norway to Nigeria and being educated at boarding school. She cut her acting teeth with director Richard Eyre at the National Theatre and won her first award aged just 24. Eyre has described her as the real deal, adding: “I’ve never seen her act and not been absolutely captivated.” She is refreshingly down to earth about the numerous awards she’s collected since, claiming to use them as doorstops.
Her TV debut was in 1993’s The Entertainer, alongside Sir Michael Gambon as Archie Rice. She’s since starred in Tolstoy epic Anna Karenina and legal drama North Square, both for Channel 4, BBC1’s Charles II: The Power and the Passion, ITV’s human rights saga Fearless (which was partly shot in Suffolk), and opposite Richard Gere in last year’s BBC2 thriller MotherFatherSon. Over Easter she could be seen as barrister Sonia Woodley in ITV’s Quiz.
Helen has twice played Cherie Blair, first on the big screen in The Queen, and later in HBO/BBC series The Special Relationship. Other film roles include Narcissa Malfoy in three Harry Potter stories, Half-Blood Prince and The
Deathly Hallows Parts 1 and 2, as well as MP Clair Dowar in James Bond’s Skyfall and Jean Hogg in The Woman in Black: Angel of Death.
The role that made her a household name is Aunt Polly in the BBC’s dark gangster drama Peaky Blinders. She had actually started pre- production hair and make-up tests for the much-anticipated sixth series when filming was stopped in March, again due to the pandemic. It is now expected to reach our screens next year.
Ironically, when she was first approached to do the show, she turned it down as she thought its setting in the slums of post-First World War Birmingham would make it a kitchen-sink drama with Any Old Iron as the soundtrack. However, writer Steven Wright changed her mind by explaining that he planned it like a Western and she was hooked: “I’m a gun- wielding, knife-carrying, whisky-swigging matriarch,” she has proudly said.
So what’s next for Mr and Mrs Lewis? They would love to star opposite each other on the West End stage and are hinting at reviving a 20th century classic. Well, as the couple have been described as the new Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, perhaps they could give us a fresh take on their 1960s hit Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Whatever it is, the chemistry between them is bound to be electric.
“I wanted him to go out with a bang. I didn’t expect a hero’s finale because Brody wasn’t a hero – he was a damaged man.”
Damian Lewis on his character in Homeland
  “I’m a gun- wielding, knife-carrying, whisky- swigging matriarch.”
Helen McCrory on her role in Peaky Blinders
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