In Spotlight: Gillian Anderson’s best TV shows – from The X-Files to The Crown

Gillian Anderson is certainly no stranger to major TV roles on both sides of the pond. Find out more about her appearances in The X-Files, The Crown and more.

By Becky Gamester-Newton Published: 12 November 2020 - 11.55am

Gillian Anderson has an impressive CV. From her breakthrough role in long-running paranormal drama The X-Files through to her turn as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown, Anderson is recognisable in a variety of guises on our screens.

Born in Chicago in 1968 Anderson spent the first 11 years of her life in London, and split her time between the UK and the US before settling in London in 2002, explaining her natural transatlantic drawl and her ability to switch seamlessly between British and US accents on TV and in interviews. We take a look at her best roles.

The X-Files

David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson in The X-Files Getty

Gillian landed on our screens – and teenagers’ bedroom walls – with a bang when she starred in iconic sci-fi drama The X-Files. As Dana Scully, she and Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) investigate unsolved cases that involve paranormal phenomena. These cases are known as X-Files.

In the show’s first run, it spanned nine seasons between 1993 and 2002, before it was revived for two more seasons in 2016 and 2018. As well as engaging viewers with themes like conspiracy theories and aliens, fans were drawn to Mulder and Scully’s will-they-won’t-they relationship.

Gillian won several awards for the role, including an Emmy and a Golden Globe, and she was lauded for her portrayal of a strong female character.

The X-Files is streaming on Amazon Prime Video now.

Bleak House

Gillian Anderson in Bleak House BritBox

Despite vowing not to return to TV after The X-Files, Gillian was wooed back onto the small screen in 2005 with this period drama.

Starring as the mournful Lady Dedlock in this Dickens adaptation which examines the flaws of the English legal system, the show was a hit. She shared the screen with a strong cast including Denis Lawson, Anna Maxwell Martin, Carey Mulligan and Timothy West.

Gillian’s performance was praised by critics, with the Radio Times saying she was “at the heart of the drama… it’s a magnetic performance in a tremendous piece of television”.

Bleak House is streaming on BritBox now.

The Fall

Gillian Anderson in The Fall BBC

Gillian then turned her hand to The Fall – a psychological thriller and another huge hit. She stars as Met Police detective Stella Gibson who transfers to Belfast to investigate a series of murders which have been carried out by family man and counsellor Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan).

Spanning three seasons, fans loved and were disturbed by the show in equal measure. The relationship between Stella and Paul becomes more fascinating as the series goes on, with Gibson becoming increasingly fascinated by the serial killer.

Fans loved Gillian’s portrayal of the hypnotically cool detective, although whether a fourth season will be made remains to be seen.

The Fall is streaming on Netflix and BBC iPlayer now.

Sex Education

Gillian Anderson in Sex Education Netflix

Light-hearted comedy drama is not Gillian’s usual genre but she’s perfect as sex therapist Dr Jean Milburn in Netflix show Sex Education. Sultry, straightforward and an embarrassment to her schoolboy son Otis, Jean’s honesty about sex makes for awkward but amusing viewing.

Surprisingly, Gillian has revealed that she initially threw the script in the bin after her first reading – but with two seasons released and a third on the way, taking it out of the trash and sticking with the character seems to have been the right decision.

Sex Education is streaming on Netflix now. 

The Crown

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher in The Crown Netflix

Gillian joins the fourth season of hit Netflix drama The Crown, taking on the huge role of Margaret Thatcher as the show moves into the 1980s and 1990s.

Despite playing one of the most vilified prime ministers in history, Gillian manages to bring humanity to her portrayal as well as perfecting Thatcher’s mannerisms and instantly recognisable voice.

Starring alongside Olivia Colman as The Queen and newcomer Emma Corrin as Diana, the role could be Gillian’s best yet in her already-stellar TV career.

Season 4 of The Crown is now available to watch on Netflix.

Watch The Crown seasons 1-3 on Netflix.

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