Dame Julie Walters: from TV comedy to award-winning stage and screen roles
Having previously been appointed OBE in 1999 and CBE in 2008, Walters is now being made a Dame.
Julie Walters became one of the nation’s best-loved stars thanks to her consummate combination of wit, an impressive knack for physical comedy, and a sensitive touch with dramatic performances.
Comedy has long been her forte, largely by way of her TV collaborations with the late Victoria Wood, and her many memorable performances are beloved by fans.
But Walters is also a revered stage and film actress and has won a plethora of TV and big screen Baftas, including the coveted Bafta Fellowship, as well as an Olivier Award and other prestigious accolades.
Having previously been appointed OBE in 1999 and CBE in 2008, Walters is now being made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire at 67 for services to drama.
Born in 1950, Walters was raised in Smethwick in the West Midlands, the daughter of a post office clerk and a builder. She worked as a nurse in Birmingham after leaving school, but when her boyfriend went to Manchester Polytechnic to study sociology, Walters quit her nursing job to move in with him and pursue a drama course.
After working with a touring theatrical company, Walters found her place in the hearts of the British TV audience in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
She and Wood struck up a friendship and began working on stage together in the late 1970s before bringing their uniquely hilarious brand of entertainment to the small screen, with their sketch show Wood And Walters airing in the early 1980s.
During her time working with Wood, Walters made several characters her own, including Mrs Overall in soap opera parody sitcom Acorn Antiques.
Walters’ part in Wood’s Victoria Wood As Seen On TV comedy sketch Two Soups – in which she played an ageing, deaf waitress who takes an uncomfortable yet side-splitting amount of time to take an order for two bowls of soup – will go down as one of the top comedy performances in TV history.
Success followed her to the big screen, when she won the starring role in 1983’s Educating Rita opposite Michael Caine, a part that saw her nominated for the best actress Oscar.
Her other notable film appearances include roles in the Harry Potter films, the hit musical Mamma Mia! alongside Meryl Streep, and Calendar Girls.
She won international acclaim for her part in 2000’s Billy Elliot as a kind-hearted but firm dance teacher, another role for which she bagged an Oscar nod.
In 2001, she won the best actress Olivier Award for her part as Kate Keller in a production of Arthur Miller’s All My Sons.
While her earlier years were defined by comedy, her later years have seen her take on more serious parts, including as politician Mo Mowlam in 2010’s TV docudrama Mo and as the wife of an accused rapist in 2016 series National Treasure.