Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman

Olivia Colman returns to our TV screens tonight in the fantastic Broadchurch and her brilliant performance has led us to ask whether she’s become not only the most underrated actress in British drama, but perhaps the best on British TV.

A few years ago, it might have been an incredible statement to make, but since she has moved away from exclusively appearing in Channel 4 comedies she’s shown off a range so wide and diverse that it seems barely possible. The best thing of all is that not only has she never once looked out of her depth, Colman’s never anything less than brilliantly assured.

Looking back at her days in comedy though, it was clear her talents were shining through. From playing the downtrodden and hamstrung office worker Harriet in the delightful bonkers Green Wing to the damaged love interest in Peep Show, Colman was always brilliant at bringing out the hilarious from the banal’ A mixture of her trademark dry delivery and wonderfully expressive face helped her perfectly capture the grounded characters that she’d been tasked with playing.

It’s since her switch to the more dramatic though that we’ve really seen her spread her wings.

To put it simply, Colman’s amongst a very select few that can go toe to toe with Meryl Streep on Oscar winning form and not come off looking just a little bit sub-par, with her portrayal of Carol Thatcher (based off of ‘I’m A Celebrity’ tapes according to Colman) being every bit as brilliantly judged as Streep’s.

It’s the wonderful normality that Colman’s able to capture that makes her such a ridiculously welcome screen presence. There’s nothing overly fancy about her characters. They look like normal people, they deliver lines of dialogue how your neighbour across the road really speaks, both of which are crucial factors of how they’re always so emotionally resonant. With the right script, Colman’s able to deliver characters that really do feel as real and concrete as you or me.

Be it in The Iron Lady, Accused or her absolutely astonishing performance in the gripping and heart-rending Tyrannosaur (a performance that rightfully had her showered in awards), she’s created characters that don’t as much leap of the page, but never appear to have lived there at all.

With Broadchurch, she’s not just one of the group in this all-star cast. She’s leading the line right alongside David Tennant and not letting him have the entire spotlight in any way, shape or form in her wonderfully subtle trademark way.

Over the last couple of years you’ve hardly been able to watch anything in Britain without seeing an appearance from Colman. Long may that trend continue.

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk
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