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Phoebe Nicholls
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Phoebe Nicholls

Phoebe Nicholls (born 1958 in London, England), is an English actress best-remembered for her performance as Lady Cordelia Flyte, the youngest child of the Marchmain family, in the classic TV miniseries Brideshead Revisited .

She is the daughter of thespians Anthony Nicholls (died 1977) and Faith Kent, and is the younger sister of Kate Nicholls, who was also a stage actress in England in the 1970's and 1980's. As a child, she appeared frequently in movies with her parents under her given name Sarah Nicholls, including The Pumpkin Eater , Our Mother's House, and Dr. Terror's House of Horrors, and at 12, she had a minor role as Oliver Reed and Glenda Jackson's daughter in Women in Love.

An undiagnosed dyslexic, she was mainly educated by a governess before attending school. She attended the Central School of Speech and Drama in London, and first attracted attention co-starring with Tom Conti in the original stage production of Whose Life Is It Anyway? (1979) A year later, she again appeared with Conti in the Dennis Potter telepic, Blade on the Feather, where she portrayed a character that would become a staple of her career: that of a snotty, arrogant rich girl who eventually receives her comeuppance. She also portrayed Joseph Merrick's mother in the David Lynch film, The Elephant Man (1980).

In 1979, she was cast in what was originally intended to be a made-for-television movie based on Evelyn Waugh's classic novel, Brideshead Revisited. Shortly after filming started, a labor action shut down the set for several months, leading to the hiring of a new director, Charles Sturridge, whose decision to reshoot the production as a miniseries would change the course of television history, as well as extending the production for two years. Nicholls drew notice in that illustrious cast for portraying her character from pre-adolescence into early-spinsterhood, and drawing out a role that seemed little more than an afterthought in the book. During the production, Sturridge and Nicholls fell in love, and were married in 1985.

After Brideshead, which was followed immediately thereafter by her first significant film role in The Missionary (1982), Nicholls seemed destined for international stardom, but a series of poor movie choices, a seeming unwillingness to break free from being typecast as the beautiful, spoiled aristocrat, and the gradual disappearance of an independent British film scene in the 1980's conspired against her, although she has carved out a distinguished career in West End theatre. She recently made brief but memorable appearances in Prime Suspect 6, Second Sight, and Hawking. She has also appeared in several of her husband's later movies, including the splendid adaptation of Gulliver's Travels (1996), Fairy Tale: A True Story (1997) and more recently, as the title character's long-suffering wife in Shackleton (2002).

She and her husband live in West London, where they have three children, Tom, Matilda and Arthur. Tom Sturridge, her oldest son, recently appeared opposite Annette Bening in Being Julia (2004), where he received outstanding reviews portraying the son of an English stage diva.

Note: This profile was written in or before 2005.

Phoebe Nicholls Facts

Birth NameSarah Nicholls
BirthplaceLondon, England, United Kingdom
Height5' 5" (1m65)  How tall is Phoebe Nicholls compared to you?

Selected Filmography

Not available.