Veteran British actor Miriam Margolyes is known from television, film and stage as diverse as Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, Madame Morrible in the original West End cast of Wicked and Nell in Complicite’s 2009 production of Endgame (she won Whatsonstage.com Awards for both of these productions).

In 1989 she premiered her one-woman show, Dickens' Women, at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, before playing it in cities around the world. The show is currently touring nationally as the flagship production of Dickens 2012, the international celebration of the bicentenery of the writer's birth. It is the first time the production has toured the UK.

Co-devised and directed by Sonia Fraser, the Olivier Award-nominated piece explores some of the most colourful female characters in Dickens' novels, including many based upon real women from the writer's life. It tours the UK until 13 October.

Date & place of birth?
Oxford, UK. 18 May 1941.

Lives now in?
Clapham, South London

What made you want to become an actress?
There was no choice.

What else might you have done professionally?
I could have been a laywer, an estate agent or a probation officer

First big break?
The Girls of Slender Means on TV in 1976

Career highlight so far?
Receiving the BAFTA for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for The Age Of Innocence

Favourite co-star?
Dame Eileen Atkins

Favourite playwright?
Chekhov

What was the first thing you saw on stage that had a big impact on you?
Aladdin at New Theatre Oxford in 1948

And the last?
Mark Rylance in Jerusalem

What's the best advice you have ever received?
“Play the opposite” (Max Stafford-Clark) and “murder your darlings” (Peter Hall)

And the worst?
“Give up the stage” (John Harrison)

Would you ever return to Wicked?
No

What's your favourite book?
Little Dorrit

Favourite holiday destination?
Tuscany

Why did you want to get involved with this production?
It’s been my life’s task to bring Dickens to a modern public.

Summarise Dickens' Women in five words
Unexpected, revealing, hilarious, moving, mesmerizing.

Who is your favourite Dickens woman?
Miss Havisham (Great Expectations)

Which town are you most looking forward to visiting on tour?
Hull; because I have an aged relative there.

What have you got lined up next?
An Aussie TV series called Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries