TV, film and theatre star Imelda Staunton upgraded from OBE to CBE in New Year honours

After years of hard graft on TV, the West End stage and on film sets across the world, Imelda Staunton is getting a promotion from OBE to CBE.

The actress, 59, was awarded the Order of the British Empire in 2006, but will now be upgraded to Commander as she is honoured for services to drama.

In an interview earlier this year, she said of the OBE: “I just wish my mum had been alive to see it. She would have been so thrilled.”

Imelda Staunton has been honoured

Imelda Staunton has been honoured (Joel Ryan/Invision)


Born in North London to a hairdresser and a labourer, Imelda joined the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) at the age of 18. Her classmates included actors Alan Rickman, Timothy Spall and Juliet Stevenson.

After six years in repertory theatre, she moved on to roles at the National Theatre – where she started gaining attention, earning Laurence Olivier Award nominations for Best Actress in a Musical and Most Promising Newcomer of the Year in Theatre for her performance in The Beggar’s Opera in 1982.

Over the following years, Imelda has picked up 10 Laurence Olivier Award nominations and won two – the gong for Best Actress in a Musical for Into the Woods (1991) and Sweeney Todd (2011).

Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton at the EE British Academy Film Awards

Imelda with her husband, Downton Abbey star Jim Carter, at the EE British Academy Film Awards (Dominic Lipinski/PA)


It was during a production of Guys And Dolls at the National Theatre in 1982 that she met her husband Jim Carter, who is best known for playing butler Mr Carson in Downton Abbey.

Imelda plays Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films

Imelda played Dolores Umbridge in the Harry Potter films (Ian Nicholson/PA Wire)


But despite a preference for the stage, Imelda has not shied away from film and TV roles. Many will know the actress from the Harry Potter films, where she played the evil Dolores Umbridge who temporarily took over as headmistress of wizarding school Hogwarts.

And she has starred in BBC TV series Psychoville and Cranford.

She also drew critical acclaim for starring in the 2004 film Vera Drake, which earned her a number of nominations and awards – including the Bafta Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

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