Alex Jennings

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Alex Jennings
Alex Michael Jennings

(1957-05-10) 10 May 1957 (age 67)
Upminster, Essex, England
Years active1978–present
Known for The Queen (2006)
The Lady in the Van (2015)
The Crown (2016–2017)
Victoria (2016–2019)
A Very English Scandal (2018)
Mr Bates vs The Post Office (2024)
SpouseLesley Moors (m. 2012)

Alex Michael Jennings CBE (born 10 May 1957) is an English actor of the stage and screen, who worked extensively with the Royal Shakespeare Company and National Theatre. For his work on the London stage, Jennings received three Olivier Awards, winning for Too Clever by Half (1988), Peer Gynt (1996), and My Fair Lady (2003). He is the only performer to have won Olivier awards in the drama, musical, and comedy categories. [1] [2] [3]


He is known for his film work, in particular for his performance as Prince Charles, in Stephen Frears' film The Queen (2006) opposite Helen Mirren. His other film appearances include The Wings of the Dove (1997), Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason (2004), Babel (2006), Belle (2013), and The Lady in the Van (2015) starring Maggie Smith.

Jennings won acclaim for his performances in television including for his portrayal of Edward VIII, the Duke of Windsor, in the Netflix series The Crown acting opposite Claire Foy. [4] He also starred in the ITV series Victoria (2016–2019) opposite Jenna Coleman, as well as Stephen Frears' A Very English Scandal (2018) alongside Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw, and most recently Steve McQueen's Small Axe: Mangrove (2020) starring Letitia Wright.

Early life

Jennings was born in Romford, Essex, the son of Peggy Patricia (née Mahoney) and Michael Thomas Jennings. He attended Abbs Cross Technical High School in Hornchurch and studied English and Theatre studies at the University of Warwick, graduating in 1978. He said he saw his first theatre while in high school and went to the Old Vic Theatre, which inspired him to be an actor. [5]

He trained as an actor for two years at the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. [6]



In the early 1980s, Jennings began his career in regional repertory theatre. In 1985, playing a range of roles including Maximilien Robespierre in The Scarlet Pimpernel . Jennings met director Nicholas Hytner during this production and has worked with him many times since. [1] For his performance as Gloumov in Too Clever by Half at the Old Vic, he won the Olivier Award for Best Comedy Performance in 1988. He was nominated in the same category the following year for portraying Dorante in The Liar . He has performed for the Royal National Theatre in a number of plays, including Leontes in The Winter's Tale and the title role in Albert Speer .

Jennings' work in television includes appearances in The State Within , Smiley's People , The Franchise Affair , Inspector Morse , Lewis , Alfonso Bonzo , the title role in Ashenden , Dead Poets Society , Inspector Alleyn , Hard Times , Bad Blood, and Peter Ackroyd's London. His many radio credits include Casino Royale , The Way of the World , Strange Meeting, Vorbis in Small Gods , and The Old Curiosity Shop .


His Royal Shakespeare Company roles include the title role in Peer Gynt (for which he won an Olivier Award 1995-06 for Best Actor), the title role in Richard II (opposite Anton Lesser as Henry Bolingbroke), Theseus/Oberon in A Midsummer Night's Dream (UK, American tour and Broadway), [7] Angelo in Measure for Measure , and the title role in Hamlet . [8]

He also appeared in War Requiem , the RSC's film version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat (1999). Jennings also appeared as Lord Mark in the romantic drama film The Wings of the Dove starring Helena Bonham Carter, Elizabeth McGovern, Charlotte Rampling, and Sir Michael Gambon. The film received great acclaim and many awards nominations including four Academy Award nominations and five British Academy Film Award nominations.


In 2002, he appeared in the Cameron Mackintosh/Trevor Nunn revival of My Fair Lady at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane and won an Olivier Award as Best Actor in a Musical. He was an Associate Artist at the Royal Shakespeare Company. [7] That year he also appeared in The Four Feathers (2002) as Colonel Hamilton alongside Heath Ledger, Kate Hudson, and Michael Sheen.

In 2006, Jennings' made his breakthrough film role as Charles, Prince of Wales opposite Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth II in The Queen . [1] The film was directed by Stephen Frears, and written by Peter Morgan. The film depicts the death of Diana, Princess of Wales on 31 August 1997 and the reaction from the British public and the British royal family. The film was an immense critical and box office success after it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. The film received six Academy Award nominations including a win for Mirren's performance.

In 2007, he played the role of Garry Essendine in Noël Coward's Present Laughter at the NT. [1] Also in 2007, he portrayed the Rev. Hutton in the BBC miniseries Cranford starring Judi Dench. He also played John Le Mesurier in the one-off BBC drama Hancock and Joan . In 2009, he appeared in The Habit of Art as Benjamin Britten.

In June 2008, he made his debut in the Operetta at the ENO in Robert Carsen's production of Bernstein's Candide, in which he played Voltaire and Doctor Pangloss.

He has recorded the audio versions of the books: Sins of the Father by Jeffrey Archer, The Kraken Wakes by John Wyndham, The Horse and His Boy , Out of the Silent Planet , and Perelandra by C.S. Lewis, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne, and Attention All Shipping by Charlie Connelly, which was selected in June 2008 as one of the top 40 audiobooks of all time. In 2006, he recorded an abridgement of A Spot of Bother by Mark Haddon. He is also a regular narrator on BBC Radio 4's Book at Bedtime . He was also a member of the BBC's Radio Drama Company. [9]


In 2010, he played Captain Shipshape in the CBeebies second series of Grandpa in my Pocket and starred in the film Belle . After that, he played Henry Tizard in Castles in the Sky . In 2011, he played Mikhail Bulgakov in the National Theatre's production of Collaborators. In 2014, he played the role of Willy Wonka in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the Musical , which was directed by Sam Mendes and was performed on London's West End theatre district. [2] [10] He took over the role from Douglas Hodge in 2014. [6]

From 2011 to 2014, Jennings played Alan Cowdrey QC in the BBC One legal drama Silk . [11] He has also appeared in the ITV television series Lewis (2012), and Foyle's War (2015).

Jennings portrayed playwright Alan Bennett in the 2015 film The Lady in the Van opposite Academy Award winner Dame Maggie Smith in the title role. [12] The film is directed by Nicolas Hytner, who is a long-time collaborator from the theatre. [1] The film also featured performances from Jim Broadbent, Claire Foy, Frances de la Tour, and James Corden. The film premiered at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival to great acclaim, specifically for Smith's performance. To promote the film Maggie Smith, and Jennings, appeared on The Graham Norton Show , this is Smith's first chat show appearance in over 40 years.

In 2016, he reprised his role as Professor Henry Higgins in the Australian 60th anniversary production of My Fair Lady , directed by Julie Andrews. [13] On television, from 2016 to 2017, he appeared in the Netflix series The Crown alongside Claire Foy and Jared Harris, as Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor, uncle to Queen Elizabeth and great-uncle to Prince Charles (whom Jennings played in The Queen). The series has received widespread acclaim from audiences and critics alike. Jennings also portrayed King Leopold I of Belgium in the ITV/PBS series Victoria (2016–2019) alongside Jenna Coleman.

In 2018, he played Liberal MP Peter Bessell in the BBC One series, A Very English Scandal alongside Hugh Grant, and Ben Whishaw, a miniseries about the Jeremy Thorpe affair directed by Stephen Frears. [14] The film received widespread critical acclaim with a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes with the critics consensus reading, "Hugh Grant and Ben Whishaw impress in A Very English Scandal, an equally absorbing and appalling look at British politics and society". [15] The series also received four Primetime Emmy Award nominations including a win for Whishaw for his performance.

In 2019, he played Andrew Aldridge, a Conservative MP, in the American TV miniseries Four Weddings and a Funeral . [16]


In 2020, Jennings appeared in the Small Axe miniseries directed by Steve McQueen, specifically the television movie, Mangrove as Judge Edward Clarke alongside Letitia Wright as physician and British Black Panther Altheia Jones-LeCointe. In Mangrove, the story revolves around the true story based on the Mangrove Nine who were British black activists tried for inciting a riot at a protest, in 1970, against the police targeting of the Mangrove restaurant, Notting Hill, in West London. The film received widespread critical acclaim, with the critics consensus on Rotten Tomatoes reading, "Anchored by strong performances and an even stronger sense of conviction, Mangrove is a powerful indictment of institutional racism." [17]



1989 War Requiem Blinded Soldier
1996A Midsummer Night's DreamTheseus/Oberon
1997 The Wings of the Dove Lord Mark
2002 The Four Feathers Colonel Hamilton
2004 Five Children and It Father
2004 Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason Horatio
2006 Babel Ken Clifford
2006 The Queen Prince Charles
2008 The Disappeared Adrian Ballan
2010Words of the Blitz George Orwell
2013 Trap for Cinderella Chance
2013 Belle Lord Ashford
2014 Castles in the Sky Henry Tizard
2015 The Lady in the Van Alan Bennett
2016 Denial Sir Charles Gray
2021 Munich – The Edge of War Sir Horace Wilson
2021 Operation Mincemeat John Masterman
2022 Your Christmas or Mine? Humphrey Hughes
2023 Your Christmas or Mine 2 Humphrey Hughes


1982Smiley's PeopleP.C. Hall"Episode No. 1.1"
1986Kit CurranPC WoodsEpisode: "A Sick Society"
1988 The Franchise Affair Nevil Bennet6 episodes
1989 The Return of Shelley JeremyEpisode: "The Gospel According to Shelley"
1990 Inspector Morse Victor PreeceEpisode: "The Sins of the Fathers"
1990 Alfonso Bonzo Alfonso Bonzo6 episodes
1991 Ashenden John Ashenden4 episodes
1991 Bye Bye Columbus King FerdinandTelevision movie
1992 Screenplay ByronEpisode: "Dread Poets' Society"
1993 Alleyn Mysteries Sebastian ParishEpisode: "Death at the Bar"
1994Hard TimesBitzerEpisode: "Episode No. 1.1"
1997Liberty! The American RevolutionKing George III6 episodes
1999 The Hunley Lt. AlexanderTelevision movie
2000Too Much SunJulian Edgbaston-Bowles6 episodes
2001 Bad Blood Joe HarkerTelevision movie
2002 Great Britons ChurchillVoice; Episode: "Sir Winston Churchill"
2004LondonStephen SpenderTelevision movie
2005 A Very Social Secretary Alastair CampbellTelevision movie
2005 Riot at the Rite Sergei DiaghilevTelevision movie
2005 Agatha Christie's Poirot Dr RobertsEpisode: "Cards on the Table"
2006 Spooks James AllanEpisode: "Episode No. 5.4"
2006 The State Within James Sinclair6 episodes
2007 Waking the Dead James Andrews2 episodes
2008 10 Days to War VincentEpisode: "Failure Is Not an Option"
2008Fairy TalesRoger BatemanEpisode: "Rapunzel"
2008 Hancock & Joan John Le MesurierTelevision movie
2008 The 39 Steps Captain KellTelevision movie, BBC
2009 The Last Days of Lehman Brothers Timothy GeithnerTelevision movie
2009 Agatha Christie's Marple Inspector CurryEpisode: "They Do It with Mirrors"
2007–2009 Cranford Reverend Hutton7 episodes
2009–2010 Whitechapel Commander Anderson5 episodes
2010Masterpiece ClassicCaptain KellEpisode: "The 39 Steps"
2010 Grandpa in My Pocket Captain ShipshapeEpisode: "Captain Shipshape and a Fish Called Bryan"
2010On ExpensesAndrew WalkerTelevision movie
2012 Being Human Griffin Episode: "Eve of the War"
2012 Lewis Rev Conor HawesEpisode: "The Soul of Genius"
2012 New Tricks Prof. BlakeEpisode: "Body of Evidence"
2011–2014 Silk Alan Cowdrey, QC13 episodes
2012We'll Take ManhattanJohn ParsonsTelevision movie
2013The Lady VanishesThe ProfessorTelevision movie
2015 Churchill's Secret Anthony EdenTelevision movie, PBS
2015 Foyle's War Clive Ord-SmithEpisode: "Trespass"
2016–2019 Victoria King Leopold I 9 episodes
2016–2017, 2022 The Crown Prince Edward, Duke of Windsor Main role (Seasons 12);
Guest role (Season 5)
2017 The Halcyon Lord HamiltonEpisode: #1.1
2018 A Very English Scandal Peter Bessell 3 episodes
2018 Unforgotten Tim Finch6 episodes
2019 Four Weddings and a Funeral Andrew AldridgeMiniseries, Hulu
2019 Gold Digger Ted Day6 episodes
2020 Small Axe Judge ClarkeEpisode: "Mangrove"
2022 This Is Going to Hurt Nigel Lockhart7 episodes [18]
2022 The Undeclared War David Neal5 episodes
2023 Unforgotten season 3
2024 Mr Bates vs The Post Office James Arbuthnot 4 episodes
TBA A Very Royal Scandal Sir Edward Young In production [19]


1985 The Scarlet Pimpernel Performer Baroness Orczy Her Majesty's Theatre
1987–88 Measure for Measure Lucio William Shakespeare Royal Shakespeare Company
1988 Too Clever by Half Yegor Dimitrich Gloumov Alexander Ostrovsky Old Vic Theatre, London
1988 The Country Wife Performer William Wycherley Royal Exchange, Manchester
1989 Ghetto Kittel Yehoshua Sobol National Theatre
1990 The Wild Duck Hjalmar Ekdal Henrik Ibsen Peter Hall Company
1990 The Liars Dorante Henry Arthur Jones Old Vic Theatre, London
1990Richard IIRichard II William Shakespeare Royal Shakespeare Company
1992The Recruiting OfficerCaptain Plume George Farquhar National Theatre
1993 The Importance of Being Earnest John Worthing Oscar Wilde Aldwych Theatre
1994 Peer Gynt Peer Gynt Henrik Ibsen Royal Shakespeare Company
1994–95Measure for MeasureAngelo William Shakespeare Royal Shakespeare Company
1996 A Midsummer Night's Dream Oberon/Theseus William Shakespeare Lunt-Fontanne Theatre, Broadway [20]
1996Hyde ParkPerformer James Shirley Royal Shakespeare Company
1996The Taming of the ShrewLucentio William Shakespeare
1997HamletHamlet William Shakespeare
2000 Albert Speer Albert Speer David Edgar Lyttelton Theatre, London
2001 The Winter's Tale Performer William Shakespeare Royal National Theatre
2001The RelapseFoppington John Vanbrugh
2001 My Fair Lady Prof. Henry Higgins George Bernard Shaw
2007 Present Laughter Garry Essendine Noël Coward Royal National Theatre
2009 The Habit of Art Henry Alan Bennett National Theatre of Great Britain
Lyttelton Theatre in London
2011CollaboratorsMikhail Bulgakov John Hodge National Theatre of Great Britain
Cottesloe Theatre in London
2012Hymn/Cocktail SticksPerformer Alan Bennett National Theatre of Great Britain
Lyttelton Theatre in London
2013 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory Willy Wonka Roald Dahl Theatre Royal Drury Lane, London
2016 My Fair Lady Prof. Henry Higgins George Bernard Shaw Sydney Opera House
2019 Hansard Robin Hesketh Simon Woods Royal National Theatre [21]
2019 The Light in the Piazza Signor Naccarelli Elizabeth Spencer Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Los Angeles
Civic Opera House Chicago
2022 The Southbury Child David Highland Stephen Beresford Chichester Festival Theatre
Bridge Theatre, London

Filmed Theatrical Events

Awards and nominations

1988 Olivier Award Best Comedy Performance Too Clever by Half Won [2]
1996 Best Actor Peer Gynt Won
2003 Best Actor in a Musical My Fair Lady Won
2019 British Academy Television Awards Best Supporting Actor Unforgotten Nominated

Jennings was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2024 Birthday Honours for services to drama. [22]

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