Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 23 September 2014

Olivia really does have a winning way

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 12: Olivia Colman attends the Arqiva British Academy Television Awards 2013 at the Royal Festival Hall on May 12, 2013 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images)

What is it about Olivia Colman? Everybody likes her. (And quite right too.)

Maybe it's because she's not a glamour puss, has talent and has earned her place in our affections.

For years she was "that woman, you know... that comedian... actress... ach, you'd know her if you saw her".

Now one television smash Broadchurch later and she's picking up BAFTAs and being described as "this generation's Dame Judi".

At this point, a more cynical columnist might be wanting to prick her balloon but, in all honesty, I can't. Like everybody else, I've a soft spot for Olivia. Why? I suspect because, at root, she is "one of us".

Put it like this, she ain't Keira, Sienna, or Kate. She doesn't ooze sexual allure and danger or look like one of the factory line sex-kittens/English roses. She doesn't even act like a "luvvie" – it would be hard to imagine her referring to the public as "civilians". Women identify with her and even men find her likeable (and, if they were to admit it, rather fanciable).

Recently, she talked about her earlier fears that she'd miss out on roles because she wasn't "the archetypal looker". It wasn't the usual PR false modesty, and even her acceptance speech – charming, understated – avoided sounding cheesy. (Like millions, though, you may have missed this because you were glued to her amazing turn as the wealthy mother of a murdered girl in The Suspicions of Mr Whicher over on ITV.)

No wonder, David Tennant describes Olivia Colman – jokingly –as "irritatingly perfect", while Hugh Bonneville said she'd the "natural gift of being loved by everyone she works with".

And it's not just those she works with. Of course, we admire her talent, but that's not the sum of total of her appeal. There is just something about Olivia that makes her very likeable. And that quality is always better than being a here-today-gone-tomorrow 'it' girl.

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