The Voysey Inheritance National 2006 Honor Voysey
The Shadow Box Southwark Beverley
Musik London 2005 Else Reissner
Rose Bernd London 2005 Frau Grolisch
The Solid Gold Cadillac West End 2004 Amelia Shotgraven
Cloud Nine Sheffield 2004 Betty/Edward TMA Theatre Award nomination, Best Supporting Actress
Glengarry Glen Ross Royal Court 2004 (reading of all-female version)
Electra The Gate, London 2003 Electra
Teeth ’n Smiles Sheffield Laura
Harvest Southwark Muriel Harpin
Outside Edge New Vic Ginnie
Don Juan Sheffield 2001 Charlotte
Keepers London 2000 Maggie
The Winter’s Tale Southwark 2000 Paulina/Dorcas
As You Like It Sheffield & Lyric Hammersmith 2000 Phebe (with Victoria Hamilton)
Spike 1999 Verity King
All That Trouble That We Had Birmingham 1999 Margot
Fooling About Oxford Miranda/Princess
The Rivals Nottingham Lucy
Othello Newcastle 1998 Desdemona
Henry IV Parts 1 & 2 English Touring Theater 1996-97 Lady Percy/Doll Tearsheet
Emma Edinburgh Jane Fairfax
The Entertainer Birmingham 1996 Jean Rice
Syme Birmingham 1993 ensemble
The Tempest Salisbury 1993 Miranda
The Venetian Twins Oxford 1993 Rosaura
Broken News 2005 Sam Henman/Consultant
Poirot, ep. “The Hollow” 2004 Beryl Collins
Bodyshock: The Man Who Ate His Lover 2004 narrator
Bodies, ep. 6 2004 Nicola Quinn
Prince William/Fathers and Sons 2002 Tiggy Legge-Bourke
Shadow Play Gemma Harding
Nurses 2001 narrator
The Bill, eps. “Long Shadows Pt. I” 2001 Helen Thompkins; "Love's Labours Lost" Sarah Beecham
Beast, ep. “Frightening Shorts” 2000 Briony’s friend
Wives and Daughters 1999 Lady Alice (with Barbara Leigh-Hunt)
Unfinished Business ep. 3 1998 policewoman
Imogen’s Face 1998 Janet
Dangerfield, ep. “The Lost Boy” 1998 Adele Griffiths
Game On 1998 Lulu Glenister (with Crispin Bonham-Carter)
Casualty 1996 Joanna
Only You 1995 Marnie
The Ten Percenters, ep. “Feud” 1994 Sarah
Red Dwarf, ep. “Holoship” 1992 Harrison
Screaming 1992 Jennifer
Unnatural Causes 1992 Liz Marley
The Brittas Empire, ep. “Two Little Boys” 1992 Wendy
The Blackheath Poisonings 1992 maid
Boon, ep. “MacGuffin's Transputer” 1992 Maggie
A Masculine Ending 1992 student
The Children of Men 2006 TV Reporter
Love,  Death, and Jewelry 2004 estate agent
Perks 2003 Sarah (with Lucy Scott)
The Anorak
Half-Sisters 2007 reader
The Making of a Marchioness 2007 Emily Fox-Seton (with Joanna David)
The Recruiting Officer 2005 Melinda
The Woman in Black 2004 Stella
Mary, Mary 2001 Mary Bennet
Between the Ears narrator
Daughters of Brittania Lady Mary Wortley Montagu (with Lucy Robinson)
Henry IV Parts I & II Lady Percy/Doll Tearsheet
Last of the Barsetshire Chronicles
A-OK? narrator
Without Rights narrator
Audio Books
Silas Marner
Lucy Briers portrait
Lucy Briers
Mary Bennet

Pride and Prejudice featured six young actresses who had acting parents, some of them well-known names. One of these was Lucy Briers, whose father, Richard, is one of Britain’s best-loved television stars. In the mid-seventies he headlined a popular sitcom called The Good Life in which he played a suburbanite on a back-to-the-land kick. Young Lucy couldn’t understand why her school friends didn’t realize that her father was acting. “I was constantly asked daft questions such as, ‘How many goats do you have in your garden?’” she recalled years later. “To which I would reply wearily, ‘We don’t have any goats, we live in Chiswick.’ At seven I assumed they were all terribly stupid not to understand the concept of TV.”

  Lucy Briers in Unnatural Causes
Unnatural Causes, with Bill Nighy

Lucy’s mother, Ann Davies, is also an actress, although her career has been much less successful than her husband’s and she spent much of Lucy’s youth at home with her two daughters (Lucy has an older sister, Kate, who at one point spent some time as a stage manager but is now out of the theater). Lucy, born on August 19, 1967, grew up in Chiswick, west London, and attended St. Paul’s Girls’ School in Hammersmith. While she did sculpture, music, and painting as a child, and once had an ambition to become an underwater sea explorer, she decided at the age of ten to become an actress. She had always loved being taken to the theater, and was convinced that she was born with the need to act. Nevertheless, her parents tried to dissuade her. “I think the reason [they] discouraged me was simply because it is a tough business for women, in some ways it’s harder for women than it is for men: there are fewer parts and there’s this whole age thing with women,” she has said. But when they realized that Lucy was determined, they became very supportive. The three of them even appeared together in 1999 in the play Spike, which was written for Lucy by her friend Simon Day.

Henry VI Pts. 1 & 2, with Paterson Joseph

After graduating from Lancaster University in 1988, Briers enrolled in the Bristol Old Vic Theater School, where her classmates included Helen Baxendale, Jonathan Cake, Raymond Coulthard, the playwright Day, and Olivia Williams. After graduating in 1991 she found work easily, although she resisted being typecast as a comedian like her father and went in instead for serious drama. “I love the theater, theater is my home — although TV is really nice for the money,” she said in a 2004 interview. “TV’s a wonderful medium but you don’t get as involved — you can’t, because there’s no time for rehearsal, you’ve got to do it in two or three takes. Pride and Prejudice was different because we did have time for rehearsal before we started shooting and we were all living in the same place for five months, so that did become like a repertory company, and that was wonderful.”

Musik, with Mariah Gale

TV also offers recognition that can last long past the initial air date. Briers’s 1992 guest shot on the cult sci-fi sitcom Red Dwarf generates fan mail for her even today, and the popularity of Pride and Prejudice inspired a 2001 radio play called Mary, Mary, in which she reprised her role of Mary Bennet. The play retold the story of Pride and Prejudice from Mary’s myopic viewpoint, in which she imagines that all the men, Darcy and Bingley included, were in love with her.

Don Juan, with Kerry Goldman and Tom Hollander

With her “old-fashioned face,” as she has described it, she is often cast in classical roles. Her performance of the dual parts of Paulina and Dorcas in a 2000 production of The Winter’s Tale was called “bracingly intelligent” (Evening Standard) and Paul Taylor of the Independent praised her for “speaking the play’s difficult verse with a thrilling intelligence.” The following year, her account of a peasant girl infatuated with Moliere’s Don Juan was praised by Kate Bassett of the Independent as “a painfully real person not merely a pastoral caricature.” The same critic called her Electra “frighteningly fevered, shaking with rage and zeal.” But she has also found great success in modern works. In Caryl Churchill’s Cloud Nine she played both a woman experiencing an unexpected sexual awakening and the same woman's son in “an absolutely glorious performance” (Alfred Hickling, the Guardian) that won her a nomination for Best Supporting Actress by the Theatre Management Association.

Lucy Briers in The Solid Gold Cadillac  
The Solid Gold Cadillac

Unlike many children of stars, Briers says she has not encountered jealously from her peers because “these days there are so many children of famous actors around it doesn't make you anything special.” Still, it can be “a double-edged sword. You are brought up with a certain amount of success around you and so have high expectations. If you don't live up to these there are moments when you think: ‘I am not as good as my father.’ I have worked through those feelings and decided that it is all right — I can be an actress in my own right.” As she has done more work, she feels that her father increasingly treats her as an equal in terms of being able to talk about the business. Occasionally he’ll even come to her for advice on how to deal with the business as it is now.

Briers married Simon Cox, an actor and director, in 1995. He has directed her in two plays, Harvest and Outside Edge. They live in north London.


 Interview with Lucy and Richard Briers

Photo credits: Henry VI—Colin Willoughby: Arena Images; Don Juan & Musik—Marilyn Kingwill: Arena Images; Solid Gold Cadillac—John Timbers