Lesley spent her formative years in the small town of Irlam, in Lancashire. Daughter of a Scottish GP and a Welsh actress, she discovered early on that accents and being funny were very useful at school, and compensated for fairly shocking results in any subject other than English and Drama. When she was studying for A levels in Manchester she discovered the Library Theatre – became besotted – and gently nagged them, until they employed her at £1 a week. She then spent 3 years at Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the early 70’s and has been acting ever since.
Lesley has enjoyed a hugely diverse career, and this continues to this day. She started her musical career in Jesus Christ Superstar – the first production! – sang her way round the theatres of Great Britain, then found herself in the West End for 3 years playing ‘Rosie’ in Mamma Mia and ‘Kath Casey’ in Our House.
Her television career has encompassed drama and comedy. Perhaps one of Lesley’s strengths is the ability to both make you laugh, and also to move you. When she was in Mamma Mia, fellow actress Anne Reid said to her – ‘You have learnt to put your arms around an audience’.
She plays the beloved 'Mrs. Patmore' in ITV's hugely successful Downton Abbey written by Julian Fellowes and co-starring Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville.
Recent credits include:
A guest starring role in Once Upon a Time for ABC America and the voice of a new character for Disney Television's Doc McStuffins.
Lesley's film career is small but beautifully formed – the multi-award wining UK feature East is East, the sequel West is West and a voice for the forthcoming animated feature Free Birds with Owen Wilson.