Gemma Whelan has become one of the most recognisable faces on our TV screens over recent years due to her starring roles in shows such as ‘Game of Thrones’, ‘Gentleman Jack’, ‘The Tower' and ‘DI Ray’.
She is known for her memorable performance as Yara Greyjoy in the worldwide HBO multiple Emmy-winning phenomenon ‘Game of Thrones’, playing the fierce ruler of the Iron Islands from Season Two through to the show’s conclusion with Season 8 in 2019.
She has recently starred in two major ITV crime drama series, ‘The Tower’ and ‘DI Ray’. In The Tower she played the leading role of DS Sarah Collins, the chief investigator into a tragic fall from a tower block. A second series ‘The Tower: Death Message’ ran in 2023. In DI Ray she played DCI Kerry Henderson, starring opposite Parminder Nagra, with a second series due to air in 2024.
She played Marian Lister, sister of Suranne Jones’s character Anne Lister, in both series of the HBO/BBC One drama ‘Gentleman Jack’. The show won Best Drama at the 2020 Royal Television Society Awards, and was also nominated for two BAFTAs.
She played Kate in all 3 seasons of the BBC Two Shakespearian comedy ‘Upstart Crow’, written by Ben Elton and also starring David Mitchell and Harry Enfield. Her character is the daughter of Shakespeare’s landlady who yearns to become an actress. She also starred in the stage show spin-off of the series in London’s West End in 2020 and 2022.
In 2017 she starred opposite Sheridan Smith in the 2-part BBC mini-series ‘The Moorside’ which was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Mini-Series the following year. She played mother Karen Matthews in the drama which portrayed the hunt for missing schoolgirl Shannon Matthews.
Other major roles include playing; Geraldine Martens, daughter of MI6 chief Carolyn, in the penultimate series of the BAFTA and Emmy winning drama ‘Killing Eve’ in 2020; Ann Eaton in the popular 2020 crime drama ‘White House Farm’ which won Best New Drama at the 2020 TV Choice Awards; and Miss Taylor in the Oscar and BAFTA nominated 2020 film version of Jane Austen’s ‘Emma’ which starred Anya Taylor-Joy, Miranda Hart, Bill Nighy and Callum Turner.
Other notable credits include BAFTA winning BBC comedy series ‘Inside No 9’, BAFTA winning, Emmy nominated Netflix series ‘The End of the F***ing World’, Morgana Robinson’s spoof documentary ‘The Agency’, BBC sitcom ‘Uncle’ and Series 2 of Netflix’s ‘The Crown’. She has also appeared in multiple episodes of children’s TV shows ‘Horrible Histories’ and ‘Hetty Feather’.
She has voiced characters in a number of video games including ‘Warhammer’ and ‘Mass Effect: Andromeda’ as well as the animated CBBC TV series ‘Danger Mouse’.
She has a background in comedy and started her career as a stand-up comedian, winning the Funny Women Variety Award in 2010. She also performed as her popular comedy character ‘Chastity Butterworth’ at the 2013 Edinburgh Festival.
Gemma naturally speaks with a neutral accent. She is originally from Leeds and uses this accent regularly in her TV work, including Gentleman Jack. She also has an excellent Birmingham accent, having lived there for 15 years, which she used in DI Ray. Her accent repertoire is extensive due to her comedic background and sketch work. Her comedy character Chastity Butterworth has a heightened RP accent, which she also uses in Upstart Crow.
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