Miriam Margolyes: From Harry Potter to This Morning - her rise to national treasure

As the outrageous actor and TV presenter poses nude for Vogue aged 82, we look back at her colourful career.

Miriam Margolyes during the filming for the Graham Norton Show at BBC Studioworks 6 Television Centre, Wood Lane, London, to be aired on BBC One on Friday evening. (Photo by Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images)
Miriam Margolyes has graced the cover of Vogue at the age of 82. (Getty Images)

Miriam Margolyes has posed nude for British Vogue's Pride issue at the age of 82.

This will come as no surprise to anyone familiar with the Harry Potter star - famous for her hilarious comedy performances, outrageous statements and proud openness about her sexuality.

Margolyes' life is a colourful rainbow from a pot of comedy gold.

Read more: Miriam Margolyes, 82, poses nude for British Vogue (People, 3 min read)

We look back at how she rose from supporting character actor of stage and screen to Vogue cover star.

Shocking TV debut

Actress Miriam Margolyes interviewed for the BBC Radio Radio 4 play 'Afternoon Theatre - The Bashful Canary', as well as the BBC Radio 2 soap opera 'Waggoners' Walk', October 26th 1972. (Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times via Getty Images)
Miriam Margolyes began acting with the Cambridge Footlights at university. (Getty Images)

Margolyes grew up in Oxford and attended Cambridge University. There she became a member of the famous Cambridge Footlights comedy troupe, whose famous alumni include Monty Python star John Cleese and Stephen Fry.

Read more: Miriam Margolyes claims she knew Phillip Schofield was gay

She competed on University Challenge in 1963 and claims to be the first person to ever say "f***" on British television, using the word out of frustration as she grappled with a tricky question. The show was broadcast live at the time.

Big character

THE TONIGHT SHOW STARRING JOHNNY CARSON -- Pictured: (l-r) Actress Miriam Margolyes, host Johnny Carson on November 10, 1989 -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images)
Miriam Margolyes on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson in 1989. (Getty Images)

Margolyes began her acting career playing the owner of a guest house in 1969 film A Nice Girl Like Me.

This was the start of a successful career in theatre, film and TV playing supporting comedic roles, often much older than she was herself at the time.

On stage these included the Matchmaker in Fiddler on the Roof and the Wife of Bath in the Canterbury Tales, and she played the Dental Nurse on Little Shop Of Horrors.

Out and proud

Actress Miriam Margolyes interviewed on the BBC Breakfast show Monday 24th July 2006 (Photo by Jeff Overs/BBC News & Current Affairs via Getty Images)
Miriam Margolyes came out in 1966 and has been with her partner for over 50 years. (Getty Images)

Margolyes came out as a lesbian in 1966, when homosexuality was still against the law in the UK.

She has been in a relationship with Australian professor Heather Sutherland since 1968 and they have a civil partnership and share homes in London, Kent, Australia and Italy.

The actor told Vogue she had never had “any shame about being gay."

Read more: Miriam Margolyes opens up about self-isolating without partner of 52 years

She added: “I knew it wasn’t criminal because it was me. I couldn’t be criminal.”

Margolyes said she does regret coming out to her parents as it had hurt them.

But she said: "And I like being gay. I wouldn’t want to be straight for anything."


Actress Miriam Margolyes in a scene from episode 'Beer' of the BBC television series 'Blackadder II', July 7th 1985. (Photo by Don Smith/Radio Times via Getty Images)
Miriam Margolyes as puritanical Lady Whiteadder in Black Adder II. (Getty Images)

Margolyes had several supporting roles in 1980s historical sitcom Blackadder, including that of the flirtatious Spanish Infanta in series one. And in the second season she played Blackadder's Puritan aunt Lady Whiteadder who sat on a spike and only ate raw turnips, considering any comfort to be "wicked".

She continues to be a popular character actor on the big and small screen, playing the Nurse in Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet and Aunt Sponge in Disney's James and the Giant Peach in 1996.

She has also had a successful career as a voice actor, as the Cadbury's Caramel Rabbit and in family films including Fly the sheep dog in Babe.

Sprouting stardom

Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets GB 2002 / Chris Columbus Professor McGonogall (MAGGIE SMITH), Professor Sprout (MIRIAM MARGOLYES), Albus Dumbledore (RICHARD HARRIS) Regie: Chris Columbus aka. Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
To a generation of Harry Potter fans Miriam Margolyes will always be Professor Sprout. (Warne Bros/Alamy)

In 2002 she made her debut in the Harry Potter movies as herbology teacher Professor Sprout, and became beloved to a generation of Harry Potter fans around the world.

Read more: Miriam Margolyes reveals how much she was paid for Harry Potter role

Other notable acting roles since then have included Sister Mildred in hit BBC Sunday night drama Call The Midwife.

On the road

Miriam Margolyes and Alan Cumming drove around Scotland in a campervan for their travel show. (Channel 4)
Miriam Margolyes and Alan Cumming drove around Scotland in a campervan for their travel show. (Channel 4)

Margolyes branched out into presenting travel documentaries, starting with The Real Marigold Hotel on BBC in 2016. Based on the film The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel she travelled around India with other older celebrities, experiencing adventure and celebrating their age.

Her stand-out success in that series has led to her fronting several more BBC travel shows, following her adventures around the world. And she also teamed up with Alan Cumming for several series of a Channel 4 series Lost In Scotland, travelling together in a camper van.

Morning Madame

Miriam Margolyes shocked This Morning hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby by breaking wind in front of them.The 80-year-old Harry Potter star appeared on the ITV show as a guest agony aunt, offering life advice to callers, and left the presenters struggling for words after she broke wind in the studio during an advert break.Schofield laughed: "Professionally I should pull myself together but Miriam's just done the most enormous fart!"</p>
Miriam Margolyes is a popular guest on This Morning and always makes an impact. (ITV)

When Margolyes appeared on the This Morning sofa as a guest her humour and frank speech was an injection of adrenalin into the fluffy, light entertainment show.

She would break wind on air, use foul language and innuendo, and generally have hosts Phillip Schofield and Holly Willoughby in hysterics.

She has became a regular contributor on the show to liven up a quiet morning.

Read more: Harry Potter star Miriam Margolyes calls abuse aimed at JK Rowling over trans debate 'misplaced'

Margolyes has never been afraid to share her opinions, regardless of how outrageous they may be.

From admitting she'd like then Prime Minister Boris Johnson to "die" during the coronavirus pandemic, to calling Leonardo DiCaprio "stupid" for dating younger women.

One thing is for sure Margolyes never holds back - and that is why her fans love her.

Watch: Miriam Margolyes confesses something she hates about herself