Daily meet celebrity with new activity


Louise Brealey
Brealey in 2009
Born (1979-03-27) 27 March 1979 (age 39)
Bozeat, Northamptonshire, England
OccupationActress, writer, journalist
Years active2001–present

Louise Brealey, also credited as Loo Brealey, is an English actress, writer and journalist. She is best known for playing Molly Hooper in Sherlock.[1]

Other major TV roles include Cass in Back with David Mitchell and Robert Webb, Scottish professor Jude McDermid in Clique and Gillian Chamberlain in A Discovery of Witches.

She is a regular performer in Letters Live,[2] a night of letters which launched in 2015 with a season at the Freemason's Hall in London, where Brealey and Benedict Cumberbatch read World War Two love letters each night and were joined by the likes of Sir Ian McKellen, Kylie Minogue, Oscar Isaac, Danny Boyle, Jarvis Cocker and Tom Hiddleston. Letters Live is next at Alexandra Palace on December 4 2019.


  • 1 Education
  • 2 Writing
  • 3 Producing
  • 4 Acting
    • 4.1 Screen
    • 4.2 Stage
    • 4.3 Audio
  • 5 TV and film credits
  • 6 Theatre credits
  • 7 References
  • 8 External links


Born in Bozeat,[3] Northamptonshire, England, Brealey won a scholarship for Kimbolton School and went on to read history at Girton College, Cambridge. She trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City and with clown teacher Philippe Gaulier in Paris.


Brealey has written on cinema, art and music since her teens, contributing reviews and features for magazines including Premiere UK, Empire, SKY, The Face, Neon, Another and Total Film. She is the editor of Anarchy and Alchemy: The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky (Creation Books, 2007). Until April 2009, Brealey was the deputy editor of Wonderland magazine.[4] A freelance Associate Producer, she has written documentary pitches for BBC Arts. In 2013 her first play Pope Joan[5] was performed by the National Youth Theatre. Her monologueGo Back To Where You Came From was performed as part of Paines Plough Theatre's Come To Where I'm From project in 2018.[6]


In 2012 Brealey produced, co-wrote and co-starred in The Charles Dickens Show, a children's comedy drama for BBC 2 starring Jeff Rawle, Rupert Graves, Neil Dudgeon, Honeysuckle Weeks, Sam Kelly, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Fiona Button and Mariah Gale.



Brealey made her TV debut as Nurse Roxanne Bird in two series of BBC drama Casualty before playing Judy Smallweed in Bleak House. Terry Wogan took Judy and her snaggle-toothed grandfather Smallweed (Phil Davis) to heart, regaling Radio 2 listeners with regular renditions of Davis' catchphrase "Shake me up, Judy!". Brealey followed Bleak House with a comic turn as Anorak, Alistair MacGowan's black-bobbed sidekick, in comedy drama Mayo, described by The Hollywood Reporter as "Agatha Christie does Moonlighting".

Brealey plays pathologist[7] Molly Hooper in all four series of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's television drama, Sherlock.[8]

She is often asked to work in accents, recently playing a doughty Yorkshire doctor in Ripper Street, a Cockney ne'er-do-well in Law & Order: UK, a broken Geordie widow in Inspector George Gently and a ball-breaking Edinburgh academic in Clique.


Brealey has made her name as an accomplished stage actress. Her stage debut was at London's Royal Court in 2001 as 14-year-old Sophie in Max Stafford-Clark's production of Judy Upton's Sliding With Suzanne . The Daily Telegraph called her performance "a perfect poignant study of adolescence".

Her portrayal of child prodigy Thomasina in the Bristol Old Vic production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in 2005 was described as "excellent" by The Mail on Sunday, with The Daily Telegraph saying that "the evening belongs to Loo Brealey's Thomasina".

Brealey worked twice with Sir Peter Hall. First in 2007 on Simon Gray's Little Nell, in which she played the title role opposite Michael Pennington and Tim Pigott-Smith. Based on The Invisible Woman, Claire Tomalin's award-winning biography of Charles Dickens's mistress Ellen Ternan, Little Nell followed Ternan's story from 17 to 44 years of age. Critics described Brealey's work as "excellent" (The Daily Mail), "impressive" (The Stage), "highly compelling" (The Independent) and "astounding" (British Theatre Guide). The following year, Hall cast her as Sonya in his critically acclaimed Uncle Vanya, the inaugural production at London's Rose Theatre. The Telegraph called hers "a name to watch" and The Independent compared her to Joan Fontaine in Rebecca. The Spectator said: "Brealey uncovers the pathetic poetry beneath the indolent superficialities. Her big disadvantage is that she’s too attractive for ‘plain’ Sonya, but she disguises this by suggesting a lack of sexual allure with awkward giggles, squirrelly movements and a stupefied beaming naivety. All brilliantly done..."

In 2011 Brealey was the sex-mad, short-frocked daughter of Julian Barratt and Doon Mackichan at the Young Vic in Richard Jones's Government Inspector. She next played three lead roles – Cassandra, Andromache and Helen of Troy – in Caroline Bird's sold-out production of The Trojan Women at London's Gate Theatre.[8] The Times called her performances "electrifying" and The Guardian said she "pulled off a remarkable treble". Brealey talked about the roles in the Evening Standard[9] and wrote a piece for The Times about the experience of going naked on stage, which went viral.[10][11]

In February 2014 she starred as Julie in August Strindberg's Miss Julie at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow.

More recently she won Best Actress at the Manchester Theatre Awards for her role as Marianne in Constellations, directed by Michael Longhurst and played the lead alongside Anne Marie Duff in Marianne Elliott's Husbands and Sons at the National Theatre.


Brealey is the narrator of Caitlin Moran's How to Build a Girl and its sequel How to Be Famous and Kate Mosse's Number One Bestseller Labyrinth . She was Megan in the audiobook edition of The Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins, which won the 2016 Audie Award for Audiobook of the Year.[12][13]

TV and film credits[edit]

List of roles in television and film
Year Title Role Notes
2002–2004 Casualty Roxanne Bird TV series (95 episodes)
2005 Bleak House Judy Smallweed TV series (8 episodes)
2006 Mayo Harriet 'Anorak' Tate TV series (8 episodes); credited as Loo Brealey
2007 Green Abi TV film; credited as Loo Brealey
2008 Hotel Babylon Chloe TV series (Episode: "Episode #3.7")
2010–2017 Sherlock Molly Hooper TV series (12 episodes)
2011 Law & Order: UK Joanne Vickery TV series (Episode: "Tick Tock")
2012 The Charles Dickens Show Nelly Trent/Scrooge/Tiny Tim TV series
2013 Father Brown Eleanor Knight TV series (Episode: "The Mayor and the Magician")
2014 Delicious Stella
2014 Ripper Street Dr Amelia Frayn TV series (7 episodes)
2015 Containment Sally
2015 Inspector George Gently Jo Parker TV series (Episode: "Gently Among Friends")
2017 Clique Jude McDermid TV series (6 episodes)
2017 Back Cass
2018 A Discovery of Witches Gillian Chamberlain
2018 The Widow Beatrix
2017 Gomorrah Leena

Theatre credits[edit]

List of roles in theatre
Year Title Role Director Theatre
2001 Sliding with Suzanne Sophie Max Stafford-Clark Royal Court Theatre
2005 Arcadia Thomasina Rachel Kavanaugh Bristol Old Vic
2006 After the End Louise Roxana Silbert US and Russian tour, Off-Broadway
2007 Little Nell Nell Peter Hall Theatre Royal, Bath
2008 Uncle Vanya Sonya Peter Hall Rose Theatre, Kingston
2008 Pornography Actor 7 Sean Holmes Traverse Theatre
2009 The Stone Hannah Ramin Gray Royal Court Theatre
2009 The Ones That Flutter Julie Ray Abbey Wright Theatre 503
2010 Country Music Lynsey Lisa Blair & Eleanor While West Yorkshire Playhouse
2011 Government Inspector Mayor's daughter Richard Jones Young Vic
2012 The Trojan Women Cassandra/Andromache/Helen of Troy Christopher Haydon Gate Theatre (London)
2013 The Herd Claire Howard Davies Bush Theatre
2014 Miss Julie Miss Julie Dominic Hill Citizens Theatre
2014 Letters Live[14][15][16] Hay Festival, Wales
2015 Letters Live Freemasons' Hall
Husbands & Sons Minnie Gascoigne Marianne Elliott Co-production between National Theatre,London and Royal Exchange, Manchester