The phrase ‘star of stage and screen’ is something of a cliché but one which fits Hannah Waddingham perfectly. Having forged a career in musical theatre during the noughties, she has made a successful move to screens big and small, appearing regularly in TV comedy and drama and on film over the past decade.

This month will see the 48-year-old actress’s stock rise even further. First the third series of her hit comedy Ted Lasso comes to a conclusion; then a new reimagining of Henry Fielding’s Tom Jones – in which Waddingham plays the lusty Lady Bellaston – arrives on ITVX; and finally she takes to the stage in Liverpool to co-host the 2023 Eurovision Song Contest, an event watched by around 180 million TV viewers around the world.

While her profile will certainly spike, this is no overnight success story for the statuesque blonde actress and singer. She has been a regular on TV for more than 20 years, while boasting a stage career in the West End which earned three Olivier Award nominations, including one for the lead role of Lili/Kate in the 2012 revival of Kiss Me, Kate - watch her performance of Wunderbar with Alex Bourne below.

Neither nod was converted into a win, but she did earn the ultimate accolade from Olivier organisers the Society of London Theatre when she was selected to host the 2023 awards, beginning with a stunning opening number alongside the stars of more than a dozen top West End shows.

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After starring in stage musicals such as Spamalot, The Beautiful Game, Into the Woods, The Wizard of Oz and Kiss Me Kate, Waddingham moved into TV roles, stealing the scene wherever she appeared. Away from acting, she appeared as a guest judge on season 4 of Ru Paul’s Drag Race UK.

She has also found the time for movie roles, beginning with a role as a factory worker in the 2012 adaptation of Les Miserables and coming soon in the next Mission Impossible film and a movie reboot of 80s action show The Fall Guy.

Here is our selection of her top 5 film and TV roles.

Sofia Marchetti – Sex Education

Hannah Waddingham as Sofia Marchetti in Sex Education Netflix

Waddingham was a regular in the first two seasons of Netflix drama Sex Education, playing Sofia, one of two mothers to Moordale School head boy and swimming champion Jackson (Kedar Williams-Stirling).

A former competitive swimmer herself, pushy mum Sofia drives Jackson to train ever harder. She is fiercely protective of her adoptive son, treating Maeve (Emma Mackey) with caution, in contrast to her wife Roz (Sharon Duncan-Brewster), who is much more welcoming towards her son’s girlfriend.

Sofia is insecure about the fact that she isn’t Jackson’s biological mother, especially after she discovers that he wasn’t enjoying swimming, the activity that she thought had brought them a closer bond. In one memorable scene below, they confront the issue. 

Sofia features less in season 3, but in one key scene Jackson confides in his mother over his feelings for non-binary student Cal, and they discuss her own sexuality.

Watch seasons 1-3 of Sex Education on Netflix.

Sex Education season 4: will this be the last series of the Netflix drama?

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Septa Unella - Game of Thrones

Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella in Game of Thrones HBO

Waddingham only appeared in eight episodes of the long-running fantasy drama, but her role of zealous clergywoman Septa Unella has left a long-lasting legacy across social media in the form of the ‘Shame Bell’ meme.

Unella, a devoted follower of sect leader the High Sparrow (Jonathan Pryce), is determined to make the imprisoned Cersei Lannister (Lena Headey) confess her sins, offering her a ladle of water to draw out the confession. Eventually Cersei confesses to adultery and is allowed to leave her cell on the grounds that she complete the walk of atonement.

Unella accompanies Cersei – now stripped naked and with her hair chopped short – on the walk, crying out ‘Shame’ while ringing a bell to attract the attention of the people of King’s Landing.

Cersei later turns the tables on Unella, imprisoning the septa and leaving her to be tortured by the brutal Gregor Clegane, crying ‘Shame!’ herself as she walks away from the cell.

The ‘Shame Nun’ GIF now regularly appears on social media, and Waddingham has a souvenir of the infamous scene  – she kept the prop bell when she left the HBO drama.

Watch seasons 1-8 of Game of Thrones on Sky Atlantic with NOW.

Game of Thrones: 5 ways the epic fantasy drama changed TV forever

Rebecca Welton – Ted Lasso

Jason Sudeikis and Hannah Waddingham in Ted Lasso Apple TV+

Waddingham’s biggest role to date is as Rebecca Welton, owner of fictional English soccer team AFC Richmond.

Having seemingly gained ownership of the Premier League club in her divorce settlement with philandering ex Rupert Mannion, Rebecca is determined to run Richmond – the only thing Rupert even really loved – into the ground by replacing the manager with naive US college football coach Ted Lasso (Jason Sudeikis).

Despite her sabotage scheme, Rebecca warms to the ever-cheerful Ted and despite early setback on the pitch, the pair form a firm partnership which helps Ted win the support of players and supporters and Rebecca start to put her doomed marriage behind her – although the scheming Rupert (Anthony Head) is never far away.

The role has earned Waddingham no fewer than five major acting awards, including a Screen Actors Guild Award, the Critics’ Choice Award and a Primetime Emmy.

Watch Ted Lasso on Apple TV+

Joanne Hill - Winter Ridge

Hannah Waddingham as Joanne Hill in Winter Ridge Phoenix Worldwide Entertainment

Waddingham plays a key role in this British psychological thriller about a young detective who is dealing with the personal tragedy of his wife in a coma at the same time as he’s attempting to track down a serial killer who appears to be targeting the vulnerable and elderly.

Waddingham’s character Joanne Hill is a counsellor specialising in dementia who hosts a group for local people living with Alzheimer’s.

It’s the film’s study of dementia that sets it apart from standard serial killer movies, and Waddingham brings a sensitive performance alongside that of Alan Ford, whose character Dale is visibly struggling with the onset of the illness.

Co-starring Matt Hookings, Olwen Catherine Kelly, Michael McKell and Ian Pirie, Winter Ridge won a host of independent film awards on both sides of the Atlantic, including a Best Supporting Actress award for Waddingham at the International Film Festival of Wales.

Watch Winter Ridge on Prime Video.

Tonya Dyke – Benidorm

Hannah Waddingham as Tonya Dyke in Benidorm ITV

Nouveau-riche beauty therapist Tonya wreaked havoc on the Costa Blanca when she arrived at the Solana Hotel with hen-pecked husband Clive and children Tiger and Bianca in series 6 of the sun-drenched sitcom.

Already annoyed at Clive (Perry Benson) for booking them into the run-down hotel, mouthy Tonya is furious when she sees him flirting with Janice Garvey (Siobhan Finneran) and tensions rise between the families when Tiger gets their son Michael into trouble and Tonya leaves Janice to pick up the bill at the hotel spa.

Armed with Derren Litten’s waspish script – “I wouldn’t kennel my dog in this place” - Waddingham’s comic skills flourish in her one-season stay on the show, none more so than when she gets pulled into a slanging match with the equally sharp-tongued Madge (Sheila Reid).

Sadly Tonya checked out of the Solana after just one season after find out Clive was having an affair.

Watch seasons 1-10 of Benidorm on ITVX and seasons 1-9 on Netflix and Prime Video.

Stream Tom Jones on ITVX from Thursday 4 May.

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