14 Weird And Wonderful Facts You Probably Didn’t Know About Miriam Margolyes

The Bafta-winning Harry Potter star has certainly lived an eventful life.
Miriam Margolyes on This Morning in 2023
Miriam Margolyes on This Morning in 2023
S Meddle/ITV/Shutterstock

From playing Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter franchise to her always-outrageous TV interviews, Miriam Margolyes is an undisputed national treasure.

Not only did the British-Australian actor earn a Bafta for her role in Martin Scorsese’s 1993 film The Age Of Innocence, but she’s appeared in everything from critically-acclaimed dramas to family comedies and more.

Now aged 82, Miriam is as popular and in-demand as ever. We’ve taken a look back through her career to bring you the facts you never knew about the true showbiz icon…

Her on-screen credits go back to 1965

Miriam pictured in the early years of her acting career
Miriam pictured in the early years of her acting career
Radio Times via Getty Images

After starting out in theatre, Miriam’s first TV role credit was the 1965 British anthology series Theatre 625, in which she appeared as Rita in the episode Enter Solly Gold.

Her first ever big screen role came a few years later, when she played a minor role in the 1969 British comedy A Nice Girl Like Me.

She competed on University Challenge long before she was famous

Miriam Margolyes on University Challenge in the early 1960s
Miriam Margolyes on University Challenge in the early 1960s

The Cambridge alum appeared on the long-running university quiz show’s first series back in 1963 to represent Newnham College.

In typical Miriam fashion, the future Bafta winner dropped an F-bomb in frustration when she botched an answer, which she has long claimed to be the first case of anyone doing so on the BBC.

Then, of course, she dropped another f-bomb on the BBC almost 60 years later

Miriam has earned herself a reputation of being a delightfully unpredictable interviewee over the years.

On BBC Radio 4’s Today programme last year, she bluntly said that she wanted to say “fuck you, bastard” to the newly-appointed chancellor Jeremy Hunt, who appeared in the hotseat just before her, not realising she was broadcasting to the nation.

She later admitted that she didn’t exactly see the funny side after her explicit blunder, which came after she swearing yet again on ITV’s This Morning earlier in the year… only to do it again last month.

She was in the original cast of Wicked

Miriam with her Wicked co-stars
Miriam with her Wicked co-stars
Dave M. Benett via Getty Images

Miriam appeared in the original London production of Wicked opposite Idina Menzel, Helen Dallimore, Adam Garcia and The Young Ones actor Nigel Planer.

The iconic retelling of The Wizard Of Oz opened at the Apollo Victoria Theatre in September 2006, with Miriam appearing as headmistress Madame Morrible. On opening night Miriam praised the “wonderful” talent in the cast that she was “lucky enough to share the stage with”.

She’s made more than one audio sex tape (well, sort of)

While making another eventful appearance on This Morning back in 2021 – during which she said she really was trying to be on her best behaviour – it didn’t take long before Miriam brought out one of her trademark saucy anecdotes.

Discussing her various voice acting roles with presenters Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby, she recalled being asked to make the original Cadbury Caramel bunny “sexier”.

Phillip then quipped: “Didn’t you possibly get that job out of a couple of other tapes that you might have done before that were slightly less family orientated?”

After scolding the presenter for his mischievous prompt, Miriam confessed: “I did a couple of sex tapes. Sexy Sonia: Leaves From My Schoolgirl Diary, that was one of them.

“But I have to stress, they were audio tapes. They were not visual. And they were very exhausting, because when you’re simulating orgasm, as all of you out there know, it’s tiring, and you get a headache. It’s not a question of having a headache at the beginning, you get a headache at the end.”

There was also one other particularly interesting voice acting gig…

She’s not just a thespian of the stage and screen – Miriam once voiced an advert for pile ointment Anusol.

The striking ad used the knotted top of a pink balloon and a doughnut to represent the anus, making for a memorable commercial gig for the actor. Give it a listen for yourself here.

She once did some creative thinking to cheer up an exhausted Martin Scorsese on the set of Age Of Innocence

Miriam with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder in The Age Of Innocence
Miriam with Daniel Day-Lewis and Winona Ryder in The Age Of Innocence

It seems that truly nothing could phase Miriam. When she was starring in her Bafta-winning role as Mrs Mingott in The Age Of Innocence, opposite Daniel Day-Lewis, Michelle Pfeiffer and Winona Ryder, she decided to make light of a particularly long morning on set.

Miriam said that she “felt it was my duty to raise their spirits” in her memoir Oh Miriam (per The Independent).

“And without further ado, I pulled up my maroon ‘Dickens’ Universe’ T-shirt and my proud and thrusting breasts, released from any confining brassiere (I have always hated confinement) cascaded out of my clothes, in a snowy Victoria Falls of mammarial magnificence.”

She said the crew were “stunned” before bursting into laughter, insisting that Marty has never forgotten her display.

“Many years later, he said to me, ‘I remember that hair and make-up parade most particularly.’”

She’s not shy about speaking out when it comes to her political views

Miriam has spoken out against the Conservative government on numerous occasions
Miriam has spoken out against the Conservative government on numerous occasions
Fairfax Media via Getty Images

When she’s not turning the air blue during her numerous media appearances, Miriam can be found launching scathing attacks on the government.

She called Boris Johnson a clown back in 2021, and also had strong words for former president Donald Trump, stating: “He is dangerous, I think he’s a fascist, and I think it was obvious from the beginning that he was going to be like that... I just long to see the back of him.”

Her outspoken opinions haven’t always been without controversy, though. In 2020 she sparked 494 complaints to the TV watchdog Ofcom when she admitted on the Channel 4 show that she’d initially wanted then-prime minister Johnson to die when he was hospitalised with coronavirus.

Last year, Miriam also gave her take on Matt Hancock joining I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out Of Here!, describing the former health secretary as a “vile human being” and a “detestable, vile, puny individual”.

She’s also a beacon of body positivity

Not only did Miriam pose nude for Vogue’s Pride issue this summer, but she has long embraced the way her body has changed with ageing.

“When you get old, your skin will wrinkle, your body will droop and your cunt will get dry. You’ve got to have other things on the menu, so to speak,” she told HuffPost UK.

While she’s not always had the most positive things to say about her own weight throughout her life, she described her post-70 renaissance as “absolutely gorgeous”.

She’s not exactly a big fan of Harry Potter, despite starring in the series

While she does play Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter movies, Miriam revealed that’s not a fan of the franchise.

Speaking to a fan in a Cameo video message, she said: “I understand you and Chris are huge Harry Potter fans,” before adding, “Here’s the thing, I’m not.”

She continued: “I’m not against it, I’m just not interested. I’ve never seen a film. I’ve never seen the books, I’ve never read them. I just pocket the money when it comes and I’m very grateful for it.”

She’s voiced many animated TV shows

Miriam’s acting CV is full of roles in various animated shows and films, including Family Guy (voicing Maggie Smith’s eye), Flushed Away and American Dad.

Plus, remember the matchmaker in the 1998 animated Mulan? That was also Miriam.

Her favourite snacks will surprise you

Miriam has shared on numerous occasions that she loves to snack on raw onions. Not only that, but she’ll eat them like an apple – as demonstrated in a video for Vogue, where she revealed that she always carries one in her bag.

She’s also a fan of a crunchy radish, as revealed in a viral video in which she was asked whether she’d prefer one to having sex.

“If it was good sex, then I’d rather have sex, but if it was bad sex, I’d rather have a radish,” she explained matter-of-factly.

Her holds nothing back on her Cameo account

Cameo has gained popularity in recent years, which lets fans purchase messages from their favourite celebs. While many actors will share a brief ‘happy birthday’ or ‘congratulations’ with viewers, Miriam’s has gone wildly off script in the past.

In a message to a London-based German TikTok user last year, Miriam wished her a “glorious, sex-obsessed birthday”, before going on to say: “I think Germany is a fabulous country. I wish it hadn’t had Hitler, I’m sure you do too.”

Then things took a turn: “I’m very political, I’m very much on the left. So if you’re on the right, fuck off cunt-face.”

And, of course, then there was this one…

She’s still ticking impressive new projects off her bucket list

She may be close to 60 years in showbusiness, but Miriam is still ticking off bucket list career moments.

Later this year, she will appear in Doctor Who as the voice of Beep The Meep in one of the show’s 60th anniversary specials, which are set to air on the BBC in November.

In a statement to the BBC, she said: “I’m relieved I got to work on Doctor Who before I died. With sci-fi you never know. Thank you for making an old woman very happy.”


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