WCW: Keeley Hawes


Keeley Hawes had standout roles in Wives & Daughters, Tipping the Velvet, and Upstairs Downstairs, but then was in a lot of modern stuff (like voicing Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider video games). I was thrilled to see her pop back up in The Durrells in Corfu, now I just have to go back and watch more than the first episode! Please, more Keeley, costume movie makers?


The Moonstone (1997)

She started off in this adaptation of a Wilkie Collins novel: The Moonstone (1997).

Our Mutual Friend (1998)

Played one of two leads in the snoozeriffic adaptation of Dickens’ Our Mutual Friend (1998).

The Blonde Bombshell (1999)

Played Diana Dors in the bio-TV movie The Blonde Bombshell (1999).


Hung out in depressing 1920s Ireland in The Last September (1999).

Wives & Daughters (1999)

Brought all the glam to the 1830s in Wives & Daughters (1999).

Tipping the Velvet (2002)

ROCKED the vaudeville, cross-dressing, lesbian in 1880s Tipping the Velvet (2002).

The Murdoch Mysteries- Poor Tom Is Cold (2004)

Visited the 1890s in The Murdoch Mysteries: Poor Tom Is Cold (2004).

Agatha Christie's Marple- a Murder Is Announced (2005)

Went to the 1930s for Agatha Christie’s Marple: A Murder Is Announced (2005).

Tristram Shandy- A Cock and Bull Story (2005)

Played a small role in weird, weird Tristram Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story (2005).

Under the Greenwood Tree (2005)

Seemed poised for BBC costume drama stardom in the let-down that was Under the Greenwood Tree (2005).

Upstairs Downstairs (2010-12)

Brought the 1930s GLAM in the rebooted Upstairs Downstairs (2010-12).

The Adventurer- The Curse of the Midas Box (2013)

The Adventurer: The Curse of the Midas Box (2013): I think this could be terrible but appears to have interesting bustle costumes.

The Lady Vanishes (2013)

Went back to the 1930s for the remake of Hitchcock’s The Lady Vanishes (2013).

The Hollow Crown (2016)

Okay so she played Queen Elizabeth in both Richard III and Henry IV Part 2 of The Hollow Crown (2016), but I admit to not being a huge Shakespeare fan.

So yay for her being back in the fun The Durrells in Corfu (2016-18)!


Which is your favorite of Keeley Hawses’s historical roles?


About the author



Kendra has been a fixture in the online costuming world since the late 1990s. Her website, Démodé Couture, is one of the most well-known online resources for historical costumers. In the summer of 2014, she published a book on 18th-century wig and hair styling. Kendra is a librarian at a university, specializing in history and fashion. She’s also an academic, with several articles on fashion history published in research journals.

16 Responses

  1. Daniel Milford-Cottam

    Just a quick heads up that the ITV Marple adaptations are set in the 1950s rather than the 1930s (like the Poirets)

  2. ladylavinia1932

    Went to the 1930s for Agatha Christie’s Marple: A Murder Is Announced (2005).

    “A Murder Is Announced” is actually set in the late 1940s. It is the only Miss Marple story that was set during this period in both television versions.

    • Daniel Milford-Cottam

      It’s tough to tell with the Marples, because you have some that seem to veer right into the early 1960s. They’re certainly circa-1950s-y, but their more specific era is VERY fuzzy. I did actually do some fashion stuff (illustrations of Keeley Hawes’s character) for this exact episode for a partwork dealing with Christie adaptations, so I’d have said AMIA was early 1950s based on some of the dresses they chose for her.

  3. Lady C. Longue

    Wives & Daughters, The Moonstone

    I think she pulls off “modern woman” in a “historical context” infinitely superior than K. Knightley & Co. In short, she can do any era and looks like she belongs. Alas, this is highly uncommon in hollywood. Most actors of both genders have a sharp dividing line whether or not they are suited to contemporary or historical periods. Hawes slips through those lines effortlessly, IMHO.

  4. Karen K.

    Wives and Daughters, hands down, though I did love Fingersmith. And am I the only one in the world that actually liked Tristam Shandy: A Cock and Bull Story? (It was bizarre, though).

  5. Susan Pola Staples

    Loved Wives and Daughters. And I wholeheartedly agree with Lady C Logue she effortlessly fits into both historical and modern clothes.

    • Janette

      No certainly not. It is one of my favourite TV series and the novel is one of my favourite Dickens. OMF is one of those series that I rewatch when I need “warming up”, along with Wives and Daughters.

  6. Janette

    Keeley Hawes is consistently good in whatever she is in, with maybe the exception of Under the Greenwood Tree which was disappointing. She always “looks the part”. She really made Upstairs Downstairs. She can do bitchy, (the banker in Dr Who) angelic (Our Mutual Friend), seductress, (Cynthia) and tired life worn, (the Durrells in Corfu).

    • Sheila

      I agree, she’s good wherever she appears. One contemporary drama she was just eerily creepy and just so compelling was series 2 of Line of Duty. Hands-down my favorite role for her is Wives and Daughters, though.

  7. Charlotte B

    As it happens, I am into both Shakespeare and the Wars of the Roses. I really disliked her casting in Hollow Crown for shallow physical reasons – Elizabeth was very blonde and retained her considerable beauty into later life. But Keeley did a great job with the (small) part.

    The dresses didn’t make me yell at the screen so definitely passed my “good enough for TV” test.

    Nice to see her other work. Tipping the Velvet, whew!


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