WCW: Gemma Craven


Today we celebrate Irish actress Gemma Craven for her historical costume film and television roles!


The Slipper and the Rose (1976)

We have covered this fairytale with fabulous 18th-century costumes in our review. Gemma is Cinderella and gets a spectacular wardrobe after paying her dues slaving away for her bitchy stepmother.


Pennies From Heaven (1978)

Miniseries about a philandering husband in 1930s England, starring Bob Hoskins (not to be confused with the 1981 film remake starring Steve Martin). I haven’t seen the miniseries, so not sure what Gemma’s housewife character is doing dressed as Theda Bara, but it probably makes sense in context.


East Lynne (1982)

The Shutterstock caption for this identifies the TV movie based on Ellen Wood’s 1861 novel as a “Christmas special” because Victorian women who leave their husbands for deadbeat aristocrats and suffer horribly as a result makes for such a heartwarming holiday story.


Wagner (1981)

Gemma plays Minna Planer, first wife of Richard Wagner, in the miniseries based on the composer’s life. The costumes were designed by Shirley Russell.


Robin Hood (1984-1986) “The Enchantment”

Teased bangs are so 12th-century England. I highly recommend you read the synopsis of this episode here, because I don’t think I could do any better.


The Man Who Cried (1993)

That is allegedly Gemma Craven opposite Ciarán Hinds. Normally I wouldn’t include a photo this ambiguous but we always seem to end up with at least one outraged comment about how we “forgot” to list someone’s favorite role, so here you go. A boring pic of the back of Gemma Craven’s head. Allegedly. Please don’t yell at me.


The Mystery of Edwin Drood (1993)

Another instance of there being no online images of Gemma playing the role of Miss Twinkleton in this early-1990s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ last novel. So … Here, have another a photo of Gemma in The Slipper and the Rose.


The Cazalets (2001)

She’s in this … somewhere.


What’s your favorite historical costume movie or TV role of Gemma Craven’s?


About the author

Sarah Lorraine

Sarah has an undergraduate degree in Clothing & Textile Design and a Master's in Art History and Visual Culture, with an emphasis on fashion history. When she’s not caught in paralyzing existential dread, she's drinking craft cocktails and writing about historical costume in film and television. She's been pissing people off on the internet since 1995.

16 Responses

  1. MoHub

    What about She Loves Me? She was wonderful opposite Robin Ellis.

  2. Mab

    Robin of Sherwood is still the best TV series ever (even with the occasional dodgy 80’s haircut.)

  3. Lee Jones

    The only production I have ever seen her in was “The Slipper and the Rose”.

  4. Orian Hutton

    When I was at university, a friend and I went to ‘The Slipper and the Rose’. An elderly gentleman asked if he might sit with us. Turned out he was a professor and wanted to see the film, but felt embarrassed to go in by himself. Lovely man. Lovely film.

  5. Katie O.

    I watched The Cazalets last year on a whim and found it fairly enjoyable. Actually I’ve been trying to remember the name of it for about a week now but couldn’t so this has helped keep me from going insane with it lol.

    Also I know it’s just a picture of (allegedly) the back of her head in The Man Who Cried, but I will say that I love the hat.

  6. Hooley

    I tried to watch the Cazalets on streaming, but it was too rough even for my iPad. Pity, the books are tremendous, the actors in the series are BIG NAMES, and the author’s personal history really brings the stories home.

  7. Kerry

    I got to see a premiere of “The Slipper and the Rose” at Radio City Music Hall. It is such a fun take on the fairy tale. It is so ridiculously schmaltzy (on purpose) that it never fails to make me laugh. I can’t believe it was released over 40 years ago.

    It is strange that I never saw Gemma Craven in any of these other films. I thought she disappeared after that big release.

  8. Rebecca

    I also love her in that She Loves Me! No other production I’ve seen has ever topped the love I feel for that one!

  9. Lily Lotus Rose

    Never heard of this woman before. The Slipper and the Rose costumes are beautiful. Never apologize for a picture of Ciaran Hinds no matter who is (or isn’t) in the picture with him! Also, I then had to go over to IMDB to see if “The Man Who Cried” was an earlier version of the one I’ve seen starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet! (It wasn’t!)

  10. Alice Shortcake

    She was wonderful in ‘Pennies From Heaven’, one of the best BBC series ever. The Theda Bara image comes from a fantasy sequence in which, dressed in a floaty chiffon gown, she hoovers with a glitter-encrusted vacuum cleaner.

  11. Alice Shortcake

    ‘Pennies From Heaven’ also starred Cheryl Campbell, veteran of many costume dramas. Any chance of a WCW for her?

  12. Roxana

    I totally love Robin of Sherwood but I freely admit there are times when it makes very little sense. Do I care? Heck no! I watch Sapphire and Steel!
    As I recall I loved Lilith’s beaded headdress and her glittery tent and happily ignored the fact that neither belonged in 12th century England, because Magic!

  13. MrsC (Maryanne)

    Rainbows raced around the Room when he danced with me!!!! Shooting stars began to zoom when he danced with me!!! The Slipper and the Rose has my heart <3