I first noticed Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones, MP, in Doctor Who, where she was smart and funny and had a great storyline through a couple seasons. Then she showed up in Downton Abbey as an excellent foil for the Dowager Countess, and finally I started noticing her everywhere in frock flicks. Like many British actors, she started on the stage and has performed a fair amount of Shakespeare, plus roles in most any British TV show you can imagine. At age 75, she’s still acting in film and TV, so let’s give Dame Penelope Wilton her WCW due!
Rachel Sullens in Country Matters, “The Sullens Sisters” (1972)
Vivie Warren in Stage 2, “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” (1972)
Mrs. Wilson in Joseph Andrews (1977)
Desdemona in Othello (1981)
Regan in King Lear (1982)
Lady Angela Forbes in The Monocled Mutineer (1986)
Lady Ottoline Morrell in Carrington (1995)
Mrs. Hamley in Wives and Daughters (1999)
Delfina / Paulina in The Strange Case of Delfina Potocka: The Mystery of Chopin (1999)
Princess Mary Louise Victoria, Duchess of Kent, in Victoria & Albert (2001)
Mrs. Gardiner in Pride & Prejudice (2005)
Mary in The Passion (2008)
Carrie Louise Serrocold in Agatha Christie’s Marple, “They Do It With Mirrors” (2009)
Mrs. Beddows in South Riding (2011)
Lady Mary Murray in Belle (2013)
Isobel Crawley in Downton Abbey (2010-2015)
Denise Austin in Zoo (2017)
Amelia Maugery in The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (2018)
Isobel Grey, Baroness Merton, in Downton Abbey (2019)
Older Alice in Summerland (2020)
Watch for Penelope Wilton in Downton Abbey: A New Era (March 18, 2022) and a World War II movie called Operation Mincemeat (completed, 2022).
What’s your favorite historical costume movie or TV role of Penelope Wilton’s?
I would love to see some of her earlier work, thank you for this post. She is such a class act and gives a solid performance. Plus I do very much enjoy the banter between Penelope’s character and Violet’s in Downton Abbey.
For me she’ll always be Homily in the 1992 tv series of The Borrowers.
Agreed! Just like Ian Holm will always be Pod.
Came here to say the same!
Never would have known her in that top photo, though, ’60s wow!
And what about Beatrix Potter? What a lovely woman. Someone I would like to have tea with.
I wonder who she could be playing in Operation Mincemeat, which is of course the famous story of the imaginary officer, complete with borrowed body, invented by British intelligence to plant false information in World War II. There was at least one woman on the team who concocted the officer, and of course there’s the Next of Kin of the body who gave permission it be used.
I love her face, she’s just so PLEASANT
” first noticed Penelope Wilton as Harriet Jones, MP, in Doctor Who, where she was smart and funny and had a great storyline through a couple seasons. “
This!!! This a thousand times this!
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is MILD? Lordie it was one of the most harrowing movies I’ve ever watched! It reached right into my chest and tore out my heart. And Penelope was amazing as always. I lovez her.
Huh. I thought it looked really twee and cosy based upon the marketing. Now I want to watch.
It’s about living under Nazi occupation. Hard to make that twee.
Nevertheless, they managed it.
Yep, she portrayed Maria “Mother of Jesus” in 2008s ‘The Passion’, she played a real 3 dimensional character. She is really an actress that gives the best “lived in” character preformances in even bad to mediocre films. Like 2005 ‘P&P and Pigs’ in which she and Mr. Gardiner are just the best married couple there is.
And in 2918 ‘The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’ her reformance as Amelia Maugery “closed off” post WWII grief feels heartwrenchingly real.
I loved her in anything I’ve see her in👌🏻.
Whoa–I would not have recognized her from her younger years. And no, that’s not a euphemism about aging badly. She just looks like a totally different person to me. She’s an EXCELLENT actress. Like many people I know her from Downton Abbey–TV show and film. But I would gladly watch her in anything. I thoroughly enjoyed Belle, but perhaps because I was unaware of Penelope Wilton as an actress, I don’t remember her character well. P&P&Pigs didn’t offend me as much as it seems to have offended everyone else, but once again, I didn’t register Penelope Wilton. Ditto to Trystan’s comments about Carrington, though I don’t think I can stomach that morose movie a second time. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society–what can I say? She was VERY GOOD in a very so-so movie (but then again, the book was very so-so, and a least the filmmakers left out the worst parts of the book).
On a completely different note: Has Paul McGann ever looked bad a day in his life? The movie poster for The Monocled Mutineer has me drooling!
Back to Penelope Wilton, there’s lots here that I haven’t seen, but I’m interested based on her acting skills alone. Thanks for this WCW!
I’m ashamed to say I didn’t realize that was her in Wives and Daughters and Carrington, two of my favorite period films/TV series ever. If you do rewatch Carrington, I’d be curious what you think of the costumes, though what I remember more are the paintings and the houses. But then I don’t have a very good eye for costumes.
And yes, her younger self does look very different.