5 Greatest British Acting Families - Anglophenia Ep 11

5 Greatest British Acting Families – Anglophenia Ep 11

America has the Barrymores, the Coppolas, and the Fondas, but who are the British acting families of note? Siobhan Thompson rummages through the UK’s family trees in search of the greatest British acting dynasty.

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Britain has produced more than its fair share of accomplished actors from icons of the past like Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh to the Great's of today like Dame Helen Mirren and Colin Firth but for many of the UK's great performers acting was not only their craft it was their birthright for instance it's not so surprising that Benedict Cumberbatch is such a gifted actor because he's the son of two other talented actors Timothy Carlton and Wanda Ventham what other surprise connections are waiting for us in Britain's vast family trees let's find out as we countdown Britain's top five greatest acting dynasties hi I'm Siobhan Thompson and this is I'm Lavinia at number five we have the Smith Stephens family Dame Maggie Smith may be best known by today's viewers as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter movies or as the Dowager Countess in Downton Abbey but the actress also has a storied 60-year career during which she won two Oscars and helped to create one of the UK's most important acting families in 1967 she married Robert Stephens an actor so well regarded that at one time he was considered the natural successor to C Laurence Olivier he played Sherlock in the private life of Sherlock Holmes directed by Billy Wilder considered by some to be the best Sherlock film ever Maggie and Robert had two sons both of whom were working actors Toby Stephens and Chris Larkin Toby Stephens appeared as the Bond villain Gustav graves in Die Another Day and as mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre meanwhile Chris Larkin played hermann goering in the film Hitler the rise of evil and Charles Darwin in PBS's evolution and that ladies and gentlemen is what you've called range the Chaplin family in 1885 a music-hall entertainer who went by the stage name Lily Harley was married to fellow performer Charles Chaplin four years later their son Charles Spencer Chaplin was born young Charles went by the name Charlie and became globally famous as a silent film comedian he went on to direct and star in movies such as the gold rush city lights and modern times all considered enduring comedy classics what is less well known is Chaplin's other legacy he was married four times and had a lot of children he had two kids with his second wife Charles Spencer Chaplin jr. and Sydney Chaplin both of whom were actors Sydney even appeared alongside his legendary father in the movie limelight Charlie Chaplin linked up with one of theatres greatest families when he married his fourth wife Oona O'Neill the disowned daughter of playwright Eugene O'Neill they had eight children four of whom were actors and one became a circus performer and it doesn't stop there many of Charlie Chaplin's grandchildren also became actors maybe the best known of them is Oona Chaplin who played to Lisa on Game of Thrones and also Marni on BBC America's the hour the McGann brothers Claire McGann a teacher and Joe McGann a metallurgist had six children four of whom turned to acting this Liverpool couple must have been blessed with superb genes as they produce none commonly talented set of sons Britain's answer to the Baldwin brothers Paul McGann is of course the most famous of before he saw two renowned in the dark comedy with nel and I and was the 8th doctor in the 1996 Doctor Who movie he was also seen opposite Idris Elba in BBC America's Luther Paul's older brother Jose scored a leading role as Charlie in the upper hand a British adaptation of the u.s. sitcom who's the boss and Paul's two younger brothers Mark and Steven have also had extensive careers mark began has appeared in films such as Shackleton and endgame and Steven McGann can currently be seen playing dr. Turner in call the Midway you can see all four McGann brothers in the miniseries the hanging gale in which they play four sons struggling as farmers during the Irish potato famine it's great if you love potatoes and cry when they die as for the next generation of the gans whirlpool son Jake is a prolific voice acting in the dr. Hugh audio plays so stakes raised Baldwin's the foxes are British acting royalty theatrical agent Robin Fox and his wife actress Angela Worthington had three sons two of whom are actors Edward Fox's biggest role was in day of the jackal while his little brother James Fox was in performance and A Passage to India Edward Fox along with actress Joanna Dave had two children who became actors Emilia and Freddie Emilia Fox played miss Darcy alongside her mother in the BBC Pride and Prejudice miniseries starring Jennifer Ehle and Colin Firth she was also married for some time to Mad Men star Jared Harris son of the legendary Irish actor Richard Harris Freddie Fox also appeared opposite Benedict Cumberbatch in HBO's parade's end meanwhile James Fox had five children three of whom became actors Lawrence Fox is best known as detective Hathaway in the British TV series inspector Lewis and he just so happens to be married to Billie Piper who plays Rose Tyler in Doctor Who Lawrence's sister Lydia Fox is in the film submarine and is also married to that movie's director comedian and co-star of the IT Crowd Richard I awadhi and Jack Fox has appeared in NBC's Dracula so among the geek set the foxes are clearly Britain's first family but there is one British acting dynasty who exceeds all others on whose very name is synonymous with great acting ladies and gentlemen I present to you the red graves this family's unparalleled reputation dates back to the late 19th century when stage actor Roy Redd brave married fellow performer Margaret Scudder more their son Sir Michael Redgrave became an icon of stage and screen and appeared in films such as Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes Sir Michael married another great Shakespearean actor Rachel Kempson and they had three children all of whom have had very successful and diverse acting careers eldest daughter Vanessa Redgrave has won pretty much every acting award known to man including a Best Supporting Actress Oscar for Julia Corin Redgrave performed in films like a man for all seasons and Four Weddings and a funeral meanwhile their sister Lynn Redgrave starred in the classic Georgy girl for which she received her first Oscar nomination in 1962 vanessa married Tony Richardson the oscar-winning director of Tom Jones you may recognize Joe Lee Richardson from the TV show nip/tuck their other daughter Natasha Richardson won a Tony in 1998 for her role in cabaret and also starred in movies such as The Parent Trap Natasha has a connection to our previous family the Foxes through her marriage to producer Robert Fox but they divorced and she married Liam Neeson in 19 eighty-four sadly she died in 2009 following a skiing accident one of Karen's five children entered the family business his daughter Jemma Redgrave is best known to Doctor Who fans as Kate Stewart the daughter of the beloved companion the Brigadier so if you're looking to become a respected thespian you can work hard and hone your craft or just be born into one of these very talented families you know I just wanted to give you a couple of options thanks for watching be sure to subscribe read more about this on the Anglophone 'ya blog and let us know in the comments who your favorite acting family is if you love these videos just watch another one go on


  1. Joe McGann is easily my favourite. I watched him in the sitcom The Upper Hand, the soap Night and Day, and the sketch show Harry Enfield and Chums among other shows where he made cameos like in My Family, All Creatures Great and Small, Heartbeat, Merseybeat, Casualty, etc as well as the film Liverpool Nativity. I didn't even know he had any brothers until last year when I was looking for old British comedies from the 1990's that I'd forgotten about.

  2. You could probably add a few more acting families. I thought you would have included the Mill’s. But with so much acting talent in Britain, you’d need much more time.
    Loving your series, always fun and interesting.

  3. Girl, I´m gonna say something that might sound shallow, but you have the most beautiful face gestures I've ever seen. The way you move your eyes, eyebrows, and how your upper lip slightly protrudes when you pronounce the letter F, is just charming. I like your videos.

  4. Also part of the Smith-Stephens is Patricia Quinn aka Magenta from The Rocky Horror Picture Show. she was his second wife after Maggie! And Vanessa Redgrave went out with Timothy Dalton (aka James Bond) for nine years 🙂

  5. There's the Mills, the Troughtons and the Kemps (ex Spandau Ballet). Julie Dench has a daugther Finty by her late husband, Michael Dench, all three, actors .

  6. Sir John Mills and his wife, Mary, were both actors. Their 2 daughters were Juliet and Hayley, and their son, Jonathan, were all actors. Juliet is now married to actor Maxwell Caulfield and her daughter, Melissa, from her 2nd marriage, is also an actor. Hayley was married to British actor Leigh Lawson and is now married to American-Indian actor Firdous Bamji. One of her sons, Crispian Mills, is lead singer of Kula Shaker. Quite a dynasty!

  7. Note that Emilia Fox also played Morgause in Merlin! She was on for more than half of the seasons and played a significant part in Morganna's character development!

  8. What about the Mills family? About stage names, this down to Equity not allowing two actors to have the same name so they make up a name or insert middle names or initials.

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