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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 February, 2001, 16:21 GMT
Julie Walters: British acting treasure
Julie Walters in The Wife of Bath
Walters caused a stir in The Wife of Bath
Julie Walters' success at the 2004 Bafta TV Awards further endorses her credentials as one of Britain's best-loved actresses.

Her award for the lead role in The Wife of Bath, one of BBC2's recent updates of Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales, is only the latest recognition of her acting talents.

Despite two Oscar nominations, several Baftas wins and six nominations, Walters has consistently turned her back on Hollywood.

Her ability to do both drama and comedy on stage and on the big and small screens has ensured her career has never become stale.

Walters' was nominated for best supporting actress Oscar in 2001 for her role as the dance teacher in Billy Elliot.

The award eventually went to Marcia Gay Harden for Pollock, the second time Walters has lost out at the Academy Awards.

Julie Walters and Victoria Wood
Walters starred as Mrs Overall in Victoria Wood's Acorn Antiques

In 1983, the Birmingham-born ex-nurse was up for a best actress Oscar for her performance as a Liverpudlian hairdresser in Educating Rita, a role she had created on stage.


The prize went to Shirley MacLaine, but Walters was subsequently inundated with lucrative offers from the Hollywood studios.

Instead she returned home to continue her work in TV and theatre with such longtime collaborators as Victoria Wood and Alan Bleasdale.

Angela Baker, Julie Walters, Helen Mirren and Tricia Stewart
Walters (second left) was a hit in Calendar Girls
Awarded an OBE for services to drama in 1999, Walters is recognised as one of this country's most gifted character actresses.

She was recently voted favourite British actress of all time and is widely regarded as a "national treasure".

Among her comedy credits are Dinnerladies, Acorn Antiques and Pat and Margaret, all with Wood.

But there is also the ability to play more serious roles including Boys from the Blackstuff, GBH, Buster and Girls' Night.

Angela Baker, Julie Walters, Helen Mirren and Tricia Stewart
Walters (second left) was a hit in Calendar Girls

She has recently gained a new generation of fans after appearing as Mrs Weasley in Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

Career break

She will be given even bigger exposure in the second instalment, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, which is due for release at the end of 2002.

Walters' career almost ended in 1991 when she discovered her three-year-old daughter Maisie was suffering from leukaemia.

Maisie has since recovered, but Walters chose not to tread the boards for nine years.

Julie Walters at the Baftas

The 52-year-old was last year voted the greatest British movie actress of all time as she picked up a string of award nominations for Billy Elliot, eventually winning a Bafta Film Award.

Her 2002 Bafta best actress success was for her performance in the ITV1 drama My Beautiful Son, which saw her play a downtrodden mum whose adopted dying son returns to find her.

The bittersweet tale of a family reunited, also starring Paul Reiser, was watched by 8.3m when it aired in November 2000.

Walters starred alongside British stalwart Helen Mirren in the film Calendar Girls, a comedy about a group of 11 Women's Institute members who strip for a cancer-charity calendar after one of their husbands dies from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.

The film - like the original calendar - was a sensation both in the UK and the US.

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