7 Things to Know About Nicola Walker

Actor Nicola Walker as DI Annika Strandhed in the crime series Annika on MASTERPIECE on PBS.

Nicola Walker has a legion of fans who admire the caliber of her work in TV series like Annika and Unforgotten on MASTERPIECE on PBS, Last Tango in Halifax, The Split, and Spooks. You may not need more reasons to love her, but we’ve got seven to consider anyway! Delightfully witty, insightful about the characters she portrays, and really just genuinely charming, Nicola Walker would make a terrific BFF—and has one of her own you’d never suspect.

  1. 1.

    She’s Inhabited Annika Strandhed for 7 Years Already

    Before Annika came to TV on MASTERPIECE, it was a popular radio drama called Annika Stranded, (pun intended), airing 31 episodes on BBC Radio 4 between 2013 and 2020. Walker told 15-minute stories in monologues as Annika Strandhed of the Oslo Boat Patrol, single parent to a son. With the television series, we shift to Glasgow and teenage daughter, Morgan.

    “Our brilliant writer, Nick [Walker, no relation] came up with a really good way of holding onto this very intimate relationship you had with Annika on the radio, that she’s, you know, she’s in your ear. And on television, he’s using breaking the fourth wall to maintain that intimacy,” says Walker (the actor). “You are with me throughout the case. I’m not just talking for the sake of it. I need you to listen to me and I bounce ideas off you.”

  2. 2.

    She Got into Acting to Meet Boys

    The actor confesses that part of the reason she got into acting was for a chance to speak with boys. “I was 13 and went to an all-girls school,” she tells the MASTERPIECE Studio podcast. “How do you meet boys? I tried one [ballet] class and got thrown out because I kept talking and they kept saying I should be talking with my body not with my mouth. They told me there were drama classes upstairs, so I thought I’d be more suited to that.”

  3. 3.

    She’s Got Pipes!

    Walker has demonstrated her singing abilities a few times in her TV and film career, including in Unforgotten, River, and memorably, Four Weddings and a Funeral. The latter was her first film credit in 1994; she played the somewhat irritating folk singer tapping the tambourine and attempting Barry Manilow’s Can’t Smile Without You. With Unforgotten, it was the very first episode as the series launched, with the character of DCI Cassie Stuart endearingly tormenting partner Sunny Khan by singing lyrics from Bobby Hebb’s 1963 hit, “Sunn-ny, yesterday my life was full of pa-ai-inn…”


  4. 4.

    She Has a Pal from the Great British Bake Off

    It’s true—Nicola Walker and British comedian/presenter Sue Perkins are fast friends. They met at Cambridge University when Walker was 19. “In my first week, she was…to be my college mother, look after my moral welfare,” Walker jokes with the MASTERPICE Studio podcast. “She kept me sane. She got me involved with Footlights [comedy society], saying, you know, come and try to do some sketches. …Cambridge is a frightening place to arrive at. …Meeting Sue was perfect because she just opened up this world. I met fantastic people who all wanted to write their own stuff and perform it. And some of it was awful, terrible, dreadfully unfunny, but some of it was glorious.”


  5. 5.

    She’s Terrified of Revealing Spoilers When Interviewed

    Walker jests about a specific anxiety she experiences during press interviews: Giving plot points away. To quell the fear, she often brings a note along, reminding herself not to divulge any details that would ruin the experience for viewers. “You have no idea! There’s a sort of buzzing in my body, because there’s a part of me that thinks I’m going to tell you who the killer is,” she tells the News & Star (UK). “The worst ones are where they put you on the television, and it’s live, and I get this awful sort of nightmare feeling that I’m just going to blurt it!

  6. 6.

    She Plays Cops, But Seldom Reads Crime Fiction

    Walker told the BBC Radio 4 podcast, A Good Read, that she doesn’t often read crime fiction. “I can’t because I spend my whole time working out who the killer is. Lots of readers do, but after years of playing detectives, I’m pretty good, in terms of looking at it as a script, at seeing where [things] are going…what the dramatic arc is.”

  7. 7.

    Her Work Has Been Recognized with Award Nominations and Wins

    While the actor claims she’s not often recognized on the street, her work has certainly been acknowledged. Walker has over a dozen nominations to date from the British Academy Film Awards (BAFTA), British Press Guild Awards, and the Drama Desk Awards, among others for roles in A View from the Bridge, River, Unforgotten, and Last Tango in Halifax. In 2013, she brought home the coveted Olivier Award, Britain’s most prestigious stage honor; it was for Best Actress in a Supporting Role in the play about a math genius, Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time. The drama, adapted from Mark Haddon’s bestselling novel, was nominated in eight categories that year and won in seven.


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