WCW: Lindsay Duncan

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Lindsay Duncan! This Scottish actress has done tons of theater (winning two Olivier awards and one Tony) as well as TV and movies. She’s also been in a number of historical TV shows and films! She specializes in a kind of quiet, subtle performance that I particularly love in baddie roles. Let’s appreciate her many frock flicks:

 

Dick Turpin (1980)

A TV series loosely based on the early 18th-century highwayman, Dick Turpin. Duncan plays “Catherine Langford” in one episode.

1980 Dick Turpin

Loving those bangs!

 

Reilly: Ace of Spies (1983)

A TV series starring Sam Neill as real-life British spy Sidney Reilly, who was active in the 1910s. Duncan guests in one episode as “The Plugger.”

1983 Reilly- Ace of Spies

 

Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1985-87)

Okay, it’s a stage production, but it’s too fabulous! Duncan played the Marquise de Merteuil against Alan Rickman’s Valmont in the Royal Shakespeare Company AND Broadway productions, willing an Olivier award in the process.

Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1985-87)

I mean, how much money would you pay to see this?

1985 Les Liaisons Dangereuses

There are clips on YouTube!

 

 

The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1997)

A TV miniseries adaptation of the Henry Fielding novel. Duncan plays Lady Bellaston, society lady and Tom’s lover.

Peter Capaldi, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling (1997)

With a very foppy Peter Capaldi.

 

An Ideal Husband (1999)

Duncan plays Lady Markby, who is friends with the conniving Mrs. Cheveley, in this Oscar Wilde adaptation.

1999 An Ideal Husband

Interesting use of a menswear-style tie!

 

Mansfield Park (1999)

The feature film adaptation of the Jane Austen novel. Duncan plays TWO roles, Fanny’s aunt, the rich and pampered Lady Bertram, as well as Fanny’s mother, the poor Mrs. Price. The two characters are sisters.

1999 Mansfield Park

PUG.

1999 Mansfield Park

Lady Bertram is pampered and stoned out of her gourd on laudanum.

1999 Mansfield Park

As Mrs. Price, she’s almost unrecognizable.

 

Oliver Twist (1999)

A British adaptation of the Charles Dickens novel. Duncan plays Elizabeth Leeford, estranged wife of Edwin, who is Oliver’s father.

1999 Oliver Twist

 

The Queen of Sheba’s Pearls (2004)

A drama set in post-World War II Britain, in which a mysterious woman arrives on a family’s doorstep looking much like a family member who died several years prior. Duncan plays Audrey, I think the matriarch of the family?

2004 The Queen of Sheba's Pearls

 

Poirot: The Mystery of the Blue Train (2005)

She plays Lady Tamplin in this episode of the 1930s-set mystery series.

2005 The Mystery of the Blue Train Poirot

 

Rome (2005-07)

One of her finest roles! Duncan plays the evil, plotty Servilia of the Junii with quiet, lethal force in the HBO series.

2005-07 Rome

SUCH excellent bitchiness!

Rome (2005-07)

 

Lost in Austen (2008)

As Lady Catherine de Bourgh, snobby aristocrat and nemesis of Amanda, in this play on Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.

Lost in Austen (2008)
2008 Lost in Austen

I love the glam she adds to the character.

 

Alice in Wonderland (2010)

Duncan plays Helen Kingsleigh, mother of Alice, in this feature film adaptation of the Lewis Carroll novel.

2010 Alice in Wonderland

This is the straightforward historical part of the film.

 

Marple: The Mirror Crack’d from Side to Side (2010)

As Marina Gregg in one episode of the 1950s-set Agatha Christie mystery series.

2010 Marple- The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side

 

The Sinking of the Laconia (2010)

A TV series about the famous British ship sunk by the Germans during World War II. Duncan plays “Elisabeth Fullwood.”

2010 The Sinking of the Laconia

 

Christopher and His Kind (2011)

A TV miniseries about novelist Christopher Isherwood (Matt Smith), who moved to Germany during the 1930s and fell in love while experiencing the rise of Nazism. Duncan plays Isherwood’s mother.

2011 Christopher and His Kind

 

Merlin (2011-12)

A British fantasy TV series loosely based on the King Arthur legends. Duncan played “Queen Annis” for two seasons.

2011-12 Merlin

Ah yes, head necklace, triangle pendant, fur…

 

The Hollow Crown: Richard II (2012)

Duncan played the Duchess of York in this Shakespeare adaptation.

2012 The Hollow Crown- Richard II

Rocking that veil!

 

Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016)

Duncan reprises her role as Alice’s mother.

2016 Alice Through the Looking Glass

 

Churchill’s Secret (2016)

As Winston Churchill’s wife, Clementine, in this story about Churchill’s stroke and recovery in 1953.

Churchill's Secret (2016)

 

Close to the Enemy (2016)

Per IMDB, “A British intelligence officer has to ensure that a captured German scientist helps the British develop jet aircraft.” Set just after World War II, Duncan plays “Frau Bellinghausen.”

2016 Close to the Enemy

Great hat!

 

Around the World in 80 Days (2021)

Duncan will play Jane Digby in the BBC series that just recently premiered. I can’t tell what that role entails, but based on the photo, I’m thinking she’s a British explorer? Watch for our review next week!

2021 Around the World in 80 Days

Somewhere in “Arabia”?

Which is your favorite of Lindsay Duncan’s frock flick roles?

25 Responses

  1. susan l eiffert

    Love love love her! 2. Is it kosher to include her in 1996’s Midsummer Night’s Dream? A wonderful, bawdy film. 3. It’s not old enough, but she (and Broadbent and Goldblum) are terrific in a terrificly quirky film Le Weekend.

    Reply
  2. susan l eiffert

    PS: 4. Hadn’t heard of many of these films and delighted to be turned on to them! Thanks as always.

    Reply
  3. Aleko

    Jane Digby is a genuine historical character who deserves a big-budget series to herself. Born into an aristocratic naval family, she married a Governor-General of India, was divorced amid great scandal after having an affair and two children with a Bohemian prince, then went abroad and had affairs and marriages with King Ludwig 1 of Bavaria; a Bavarian Baron; a Greek count; the King of Greece; a Greek general, a hero of the Greek war of independence; and finally married a Syrian sheikh 20 years younger than her, with whom she spent the last 28 years of her life, alternating between a goatskin-tent encampment in the desert and her palace in Damascus. She was a friend of the equally-scandalous Middle Easter traveller Sir Richard Burton and his wife. One of those people you couldn’t invent.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

      She is fascinating. I wrote about Jane in Scandalous Women. I would love to see a big budget Netflix series about her. Mary Lovell’s biography about her is excellent.

      Reply
  4. Gray

    Not a Frock Flick, but she is THE BEST simmering, subtle, ruthless villainess in the British 1989 miniseries “Traffik”.

    The series is the 1st and best incarnation of the drug drama. NOT the movie versions nor the US miniseries. Check it out.

    Reply
  5. Elizabeth Kerri Mahon

    I was lucky enough to see Lindsey Duncan and Alan Rickman in both Les Liaisons Dangereuses and Private Lives on Broadway.

    Reply
    • Barbara the W

      oh wow! I only saw them in Private Lives! She was stunning in it. You don’t realize how tiny she is until you see her in person.

      Reply
    • Julia

      I tried to book for it when the play was announced for the RSC’s tiny studio theatre at the Barbican, but it sold out almost immediately.

      Reply
  6. Jean Siska

    The photos of Lindsey and Alan Rickman were part of Deborah Harkness’ inspiration when she was creating the character of Ysabeau deClermont in “A Discovery of Witches”

    Reply
  7. Sharon in Scotland

    I have the curse she delivers to Polly Walker’s character at the end of “Rome”, it’s a pip and and a dandy and I aspire to use it one day

    Reply
      • Sharon in Scotland

        not sure where I heard it, but It’s a lovely phrase to use…………….Dickens??

        Reply
    • Susan Pola Staples

      Not entirely a Frock Flick, but I love her Ysabeau de Clermont in Discovery of Witches. I’ve seen the YouTube Les Liasions Dangereux and I want more of it. Ideal Husband is Great. She should play Lady Burton in a miniseries. Fiona Shaw’s portrayal in Mountains of the Moon whetted my appetite for more.

      Reply
  8. Barbara the W

    I regret that I didn’t go see her, Rickman and Fiona Shaw in John Gabriel Borkman in NYC…

    Reply
  9. Allison Rabenau

    She was phenomenal in Rome. I was lucky enough to see her on Broadway in Private Lives and Midsummer, but it’s is one of my great regrets in life that I missed Les Liaisons Dangereuses – I’ve heard so many people talk about it as unforgettable.

    Reply
  10. florenceandtheai

    TBH, I first saw her in a Dr. Who episode (The Waters of Mars?). I had no idea who she was (shame!) but I really enjoyed her performance and I’ve watched her since. I loved her as Servilia. She was funny as Lady Tamplin (Poirot “The Blue Train”) and hysterical in Lost in Austen.

    Reply
  11. Lily Lotus Rose

    I ADORE Lindsay Duncan!!!!! My favorite of her FrockFlick roles is Servilia in Rome. Hands-down. That said, I just KNOW that she and Alan Rickman KILLED IT on stage in Dangerous Liaisons. Also, can I just add as an honorable mention (in my heart, at least), her character from Under the Tuscan Sun? I know it that was a contemporary movie without any period flashbacks, and I haven’t seen in years, but I think her character purposefully dressed in ways that referred back to old Audrey Hepburn films. Whatever the case, she looked fabulous in that movie as she does in everything. Re: Mansfield Park–she did a good job in the dual roles of Mrs Price and Mrs. Bertram. And while I thought it was a very intriguing choice to highlight how poverty can drag down one’s looks while wealth can help to “prop up” one’s looks, I just kept getting pulled into the “gimmick” of the dual roles more so than anything else. She has such talent and presence. GREAT WCW choice!!

    Reply

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