WCW: Emerald Fennell


As often happens with these things, there will be an actor who I love in one frock flick, and I wonder, hmm, what else have they done? So I head to IMDB and find out, ohhhh, they did this part and that part that I also love! And so it is with Emerald Fennell, who of course I adore as Nurse Patsy with the sadly too short-lived queer storyline on Call the Midwife. Not only did I find out she’s been in a bunch of other flicks that I enjoy, she’s an accomplished writer with novels and screenplays under her belt — including a Best Original Screenplay Oscar for Promising Young Woman (2020). Oh, and she directed that movie too! No idea if she’ll be focusing on behind-the-scenes work now after such success, but I do hope not because I enjoy her acting as well.



Lottie in Any Human Heart (2010)

Emerald Fennell - Any Human Heart (2010)

She plays the aristocratic but eventually ignored first wife of a novelist, starting in the 1930s.

Emerald Fennell - Any Human Heart (2010)

She shows up again at a funeral in the 1950s — that’s some convincing old-age makeup!



Agnes in Chickens (2011-2013)

Emerald Fennell - Chickens (2011-2013)

A comedy set during World War I about several men in a small village who don’t sign up to fight.

Emerald Fennell - Chickens (2011-2013)

Fennell plays the ‘queen bee’ who takes control in town. She’s one of the ‘chicken’ men’s sister & another’s love interest.



Mrs. Smythe-Willard in Albert Nobbs (2011)

Emerald Fennell - Albert Nobbs (2011)

I think she’s one of the hotel guests.



Princess Merkalova in Anna Karenina (2012)

Emerald Fennell - Anna Karenina (2012)

One of the elegant court ladies in Moscow.



Monica Simmons in Blandings, “Problems With Drink” (2013)

Emerald Fennell - Blandings (2013)

One episode of this 1930s comedy where Fennell plays up her, um, assets.



Odette in The Lady Vanishes (2013)

Emerald Fennell - The Lady Vanishes (2013)

A BBC murder-mystery set in the 1930s.



Issy Quennell in Murder on the Home Front (2013)

Emerald Fennell - Murder on the Home Front (2013)

A two-part murder-mystery set during the London Blitz. LOVE that plaid suit!

Emerald Fennell - Murder on the Home Front (2013)

Smokin’ hot!



Elsa in The Danish Girl (2015)

Emerald Fennell - The Danish Girl (2015)

A small role as a friend of the Wegeners, who sees them at two events.

Emerald Fennell - The Danish Girl (2015)

At this dance, she doesn’t recognize Einar Wegener because he’s dressed in women’s clothes in public for the first time and going by Lili.



Nurse Patsy Mount in Call the Midwife (2013-2017)

Emerald Fennell - Call the Midwife (2013-2017)

There’s the Emerald Fennel we all know! She dyed her hair red for this role, btw.

Emerald Fennell - Call the Midwife (2013-2017)

Nurse Delia Busby (Kate Lamb) had a romantic relationship with Patsy, which the show threw a lot of obstacles at during their seasons.

Emerald Fennell - Call the Midwife (2013-2017)

It was delightful, sweet, & fairly historically accurate (in its closeted-ness, at least) while it lasted.



Lady Lovelace in Victoria, “The Green-Eyed Monster” (2017)

Emerald Fennell - Victoria (2017)

Fennell showed up at Queen Victoria’s court.

Emerald Fennell - Victoria (2017)

As the noted mathematician who worked with Charles Babbage’s early computing device.



Vanessa Bell in Vita & Virginia (2018)

Emerald Fennell - Vita & Virginia (2018)

The English painter, married to art critic Clive Bell, who’s shown to be something of the Bloomsbury Group’s caretaker in this film.

Emerald Fennell - Vita & Virginia (2018)

But she gets her artsy side on too.



Camilla Parker Bowles in The Crown (2019-2020)

Emerald Fennell - The Crown (2019-2020)

While these seasons of The Crown are past our cutoff, I was impressed at how well Fennell captured Camilla’s mannerisms.

Emerald Fennell - The Crown (2019-2020)

And while I’m a total Diana fan, I really enjoyed Fennell’s performance here.




What’s your favorite historical performance of Emerald Fennell’s?

9 Responses

  1. Broni Mitchell

    Thank you for pulling this together. She looks so great in 30s fashions!

    I am wondering why the choice was made to refer to Lili with male pronouns in the caption for The Danish Girl?

    • Trystan L. Bass

      Because the character is still, at that moment “Einar” & hasn’t transitioned to to “Lili” yet. It’s literally a transitional moment in the film. So saying “she doesn’t recognize Einar Wegener because she’s dressed in women’s clothes in public for the first time and going by Lili” doesn’t actually explain what’s going on in the scene.

  2. Heather Ripley

    I simply adored her character in Call the Midwife, and was blown away by her directing the film A Promising Young Woman. Now I have more of Emerald’s performance to watch thanks to this article!

    That golden gown in the second pic for The Home Front looks authentically vintage too. I think she has a great face and persona that really lends itself to a historical productions too.

  3. SarahV

    She also has a wonderfully enjoyable Instagram feed – whenever she dresses up for an award show or event she always adopts a persona to go with the outfit (“Embittered Former 70’s Soap Star,” or “Randy Young Widow on the Hunt “etc.)

    And yes, in the Crown. she actually elicited blips of sympathy from me for Camilla.

    (also, I never really connected her with Call the Midwife – that show is paradoxically a stealth cultural phenomenon. )

    • peacoclaur

      Given what an unsympathetic figure Camilla is IRL (all things considered); that’s both a testament to both Peter Morgan as a writer and Emerald as an actor – it would have been far too easy to have Camilla as a straight forward Soap Opera villain. I can’t help thinking though if Morgan had really been willing to be different he would emphasised what Diana and Camilla had in common rather than their differences – maybe season 5 will cover this (fingers crossed).

      • Trystan L. Bass

        It’s a surprisingly deft portrayal of Camilla. Not sugar-coated at all, but not a villain either — just very different from Diana. I think many of the characters in The Crown come off as pretty nuanced & complicated (maybe more so than the real ppl, who knows!).

    • Colleen

      I feel the same. She actually made Camilla seem somewhat human and just as much a pawn in Charles’ scheme to make his mother wish she’d let him get out of marrying Diana. This is my interpretation based off of the most recent season.

      • Adele

        It’s fiction. Just as much as any Phillipa Gregory – the names may be the same but the conversations didn’t actually happen.