Lindsay Duncan, star of Channel 4‘s Truelove, has led a remarkable life that has even inspired an award-winning film.

In Truelove, Lindsay plays Philippa “Phil” Leach, a former police detective who is bored out of her mind in her retirement. She makes a pact with her friends that finally returns the meaning to her life.

Here’s everything you need to know about Lindsay, her career, and how her life inspired that film.


Lindsay Duncan as Phil in Truelove (Credit: Channel 4)

Who is Lindsay Duncan?

Lindsay Vere Duncan CBE is a Scottish actress, well known for multiple roles across screen and stage. Over the course of her career, she’s received two Olivier Awards and a Tony Award, as well as four BAFTA nominations. She is currently starring in Channel 4’s Truelove.

She received a CBE for services to drama in 2009.

Lindsay Duncan is originally from Edinburgh where she was born to working-class Scottish parents. As a child, she also lived in Leeds and Birmingham. She attended the independent King Edward VI High School for Girls in Edgbaston on a free grant.

Her father, who served in the British army before becoming a civil servant, died in a car accident when Lindsay was a teenager. Her mother later suffered from Alzheimer’s disease and passed away in 1994.

The relationship Lindsay shared with her mother inspired a play, The Winter Guest, which was borne of conversations she shared with co-star Alan Rickman while they were working together on the RSC’s production of Les Liaisons Dangereuses. Alan Rickman went on to direct the play when it premiered in 1995.

Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law in The Winter Guest
Emma Thompson and Phyllida Law in The Winter Guest, the film inspired by Lindsay Duncan’s relationship with her mother (Credit: Cover Images)

Alan Rickman then directed the film adaptation of The Winter Guest in 1997, which starred real-life mother and daughter Phyllida Law and Emma Thompson. The Winter Guest won several awards at film festivals, including the Brussels International Film Festival Audience Award, Chicago Film Festival’s Gold Hugo – Best Film Award and multiple awards at the Venice Film Festival.

How old is Lindsay Duncan?

Lindsay was born on November 7, 1950. As of January 2024, she is 73 years old.

Lindsay Duncan and Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun (2003)
Lindsay Duncan and Diane Lane in Under the Tuscan Sun (Credit: Cover Images)

All the films Lindsay Duncan has been in

Lindsay began her film career in the 1984 British film Loose Connections. She portrayed Sally, a feminist on a roadtrip with a chauvinist played by Stephen Rea.

She went on to have roles in Prick Up Your Ears (1987) and Manifesto (1988). That was followed by an award-winning turn in 1990’s The Reflecting Skin.

In 1999, Lindsay portrayed Lady Markby in An Ideal Husband and Lady Bertram in Mansfield Park.

Edinburgh Film Festival award-winner AfterLife (2003) came next, in which she played the lead role of May Brogan. That same year, Lindsay starred in romcom Under the Tuscan Sun.

She played Audrey Pretty in post WWII-drama The Queen of Sheba’s Pearls in 2004, followed by Rose in Starter for 10 (2006).

Roles in Last Passenger (2012), About Time (2013) and Le Weekend (2013) followed. She then starred in the Academy Award Best Picture winner Birdman (2014), playing theatre critic Tabitha Dickinson.

She also starred in Gifted (2017), Blackbird (2019), November 1st (1999) and Made in Italy (2020).

Lindsay Duncan in Channel 4's Truelove
Lindsay Duncan as Phil in Truelove (Credit: Channel 4)

What TV shows has Lindsay Duncan been in? Lindsay’s BAFTA nominations

Despite being more famous for her film and theatre work, Lindsay’s done quite a lot of TV! And for her major roles, she seems to favour political dramas. Her first major TV role was in Channel 4 political drama G.B.H., written by Alan Bleasdale. Lindsay portrayed wealthy older woman Barbara Douglas, who manipulates the series lead Michael Murray (Robert Lindsay). For this role, she was nominated for a BAFTA for Best Actress.

She was nominated again in 1999 for her role as library manager Marilyn Truman in Shooting the Past. Her next nomination came for her role in the 2001 family drama Perfect Strangers.

Lindsay Duncan and Sandra James-Young in Channel 4's Truelove
Lindsay Duncan as Phil and Sandra James-Young as Jean in Truelove (Credit: Channel 4)

What other TV shows has Lindsay Duncan been in?

She also played Servilia of the Junii in HBO historical drama Rome (2005-2007). Sevilia was a Roman noble, the mother of Brutus (Tobias Menzies) and estranged mistress of Julius Caesar (Ciarán Hinds).

Next she portrayed historian Lady Elizabeth Longford in television film Longford (2006). The film told the story of Lord Longford and his campaign for the parole of Moors Murderer Myra Hindley.

In 2009, she had yet another major role in a political drama. She played the titular role in Margaret, which dramatised Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher‘s fall from grace. She received a nod for a Scottish BAFTA for this role.

Lindsay appeared in the third and fourth seasons of BBC‘s Sherlock (2014-2017), portraying Lady Smallwood. Lady Smallwood was an associate of Mycroft Holmes (Mark Gatiss) and member of the Cabinet Office.

She appeared in BAFTA-winning political thriller The Honourable Woman (2014) and as Winston Churchill’s wife Clementine in 2016’s Churchill’s Secret.

In the 2020s, Lindsay’s had roles in the legal drama The Split (2022), The Morning Show (2023) and playing Rosamund Pike‘s sister in Wheel of Time (2023).

And of course, in 2024 she’s starring in Channel 4’s Truelove!

Lindsay Duncan in Channel 4's Truelove
Lindsay Duncan as Phil in Truelove (Credit: Channel 4)

Lindsay Duncan’s role in Doctor Who

Yes, Lindsay appeared in one of David Tennant‘s final episodes as the Tenth Doctor (before returning in 2023, of course). In the 2009 special, ‘The Waters of Mars’, Lindsay portrayed Captain Adelaide Brooke, the leader of a human colony on Mars in 1959. She proved to be an important character in Doctor Who lore, as her death inspires her granddaughter Susie Fontana Brooke to become a space exploration pioneer.

Who is Lindsay Duncan’s husband?

Lindsay is married to fellow Scottish actor Hilton McRae. The pair met in 1985 while working for the Royal Shakespeare Company. Lindsay Duncan has one son with Hilton, Cal McRae, who is in his 30s.

The cast of Channel 4's Truelove
The cast of Truelove: Ken (Clarke Peters), Phil (Lindsay Duncan), Tom (Karl Johnson) Marion (Sue Johnston) and David (Peter Egan) (Credit: Channel 4)

Truelove on Channel 4

A new take on older age, Truelove explores a group of retirees who make a pact to engineer a dignified death if one of them begins to suffer from poor health.

When a young police officer learns there is something strange about these 70-year-old friends, a thrilling game of cat and mouse ensues.

The cast also includes Clarke Peters, Karl Johnson, Sue Johnston and Peter Egan.

Truelove airs tonight (January 11) on Channel 4 at 9pm.

Read more: Celebrity Gogglebox viewers rejoice as legendary TV husband and wife reunite to join new series

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