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Ashley Jensen
Ashley Jensen June 2016.jpg
Jensen in 2016
Born (1969-08-11) 11 August 1969 (age 54)
Annan, Dumfriesshire, Scotland
Occupation Actress and narrator
Years active 1988–present
Spouse(s)
Terence Beesley
(m. 2007; died 2017)
Kenny Doughty
(m. 2023)
Children 1

Ashley Jensen (born 11 August 1969) is a Scottish actress and narrator. She is best known for her roles as Maggie Jacobs in Extras (2005–2007, for which she was nominated for an Emmy Award), Christina McKinney in Ugly Betty (2006–2010), Agatha Raisin in Agatha Raisin (2014–present), and DI Ruth Calder in Shetland (2023–present).

Career

Jensen trained in drama at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.

Her first significant television role was as Clare Donnelly, daughter of Glasgow criminal Jo-Jo Donnelly (played by Billy Connolly) in the 1993 BBC drama Down Among the Big Boys. In 1994, she played eccentric secretary Rosie McConnichy in the final series of BBC comedy May to December, as a replacement for the character of secretary Hilary (Rebecca Lacey), and Heather in Roughnecks, a BBC television series about workers on a North Sea oil platform. Jensen had a small role in a Dangerfield episode "Contact" as the mother of a young girl with meningitis. She then appeared as Fiona Morris in EastEnders. She also appeared in the 2003 BBC drama Two Thousand Acres of Sky.

Jensen co-starred alongside Ricky Gervais in the BBC Two/HBO television programme Extras as the socially inept Maggie Jacobs. For her work on the first series, she received best television comedy actress and newcomer awards at the 2005 British Comedy Awards. In 2006, Jensen received two British Comedy Awards and a BAFTA nomination for her role in Extras. Her role in the 2007 Christmas Special earned her an Emmy Award nomination. In January 2006 she starred in the short-lived drama series Eleventh Hour on ITV. Later that year she played Steve Coogan's agent in A Cock and Bull Story. In 2007, she provided the narration for the film Taking Liberties.

In September 2006, Jensen's first major role on American television came when she took the role of regular character Christina McKinney on the ABC series Ugly Betty. Her character was originally an American, but when she met the show's producers they liked Jensen's accent and changed the nationality of the character, keeping McKinney Scottish. Production of Ugly Betty moved to New York from Los Angeles in mid-2008, causing a conflict for Jensen, who was unable to relocate from Los Angeles and left the show in 2009 near the end of the third season but made a return guest appearance in 2010 during the fourth season.

Ashley Jensen
Jensen at the 60th Annual Emmy Awards, 21 September 2008

In January 2009, Jensen starred in No Holds Bard, a BBC Scotland one-off special comedy shown on Burns Night as part of a line-up of special programming to mark the 250th birthday of Robert Burns. She is the narrator of Channel 4's Embarrassing Illnesses and Embarrassing Bodies. She also narrated an advertising campaign for Bank of Scotland and Persil detergent adverts for both television and radio. From September 2009 to May 2010, she appeared in the sitcom Accidentally on Purpose as Olivia. Jensen starred in the 2009 BBC comedy Nativity! as Jennifer Lore, a Hollywood producer's secretary and the love interest of Paul Maddens, played by Martin Freeman.

..... In 2011, she voiced Nanette the frog in the animated production Gnomeo & Juliet. She starred in the ITV drama The Reckoning in April of that year. In October 2012, she appeared as a guest on the BBC cookery programme Saturday Kitchen.

In 2014, she played the eponymous lead character in the television film adaptation of the M. C. Beaton novel Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death for Sky1. She also starred in the eight-part series that first aired on Sky1 on 7 June 2016.

From 2015 to 2019, Jensen acted in Catastrophe, a comedy series for Channel 4, and with Susan Calman in Calman's BBC Radio 4 comedy series Sisters.

In 2017, she starred in a six-part TV series for BBC TV, Love, Lies & Records, depicting the gritty life and entwined storylines working in Leeds Registry Office. In March 2019, Jensen reunited with Gervais in the Netflix black comedy series After Life, a role she continued for all three series. In April 2019 she played Debbie Dorell in the second series of BBC TV drama Trust Me. When an injured soldier discovers patients in his hospital ward dying, he attempts to investigate the suspicious deaths. Also in 2019, she played the voice of Jacqueline in Lady and the Tramp.

In November 2022 she was announced as the new lead in the BBC drama Shetland.

Jensen also appeared in the 2022 Christmas film Christmas On Mistletoe Farm for Netflix. Working on this project marked her reunion with Nativity! director, Debbie Isitt.

Personal life

Jensen has one son from her marriage to actor Terence Beesley, whom she met in 1999 while working on a stage production of King Lear. Her husband died in November 2017; an inquest found that he had taken his own life.

In 2023, Jensen married actor Kenny Doughty.

Filmography

Film
Year Title Role Notes
1991 Tickets for the Zoo
1999 Topsy-Turvy Miss Tringham
2005 A Cock and Bull Story Lindsey
2009 Nativity! Jennifer Lore
2010 Sunshine Alison Short
How to Train Your Dragon Phlegma the Fierce Voice
2011 Gnomeo & Juliet Nanette
Hysteria Fanny
Arthur Christmas Bryony Nominated – Annie Award for Voice Acting in a Feature Production
2012 The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate Voice
2013 All Stars Gina
2014 Small Time Gail
2015 The Lobster Biscuit Woman
The Legend of Barney Thomson Detective Inspector June Robertson
2018 Sherlock Gnomes Nanette Voice
2019 How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World Phlegma Voice
2019 Lady and the Tramp Jock Voice
2022 Christmas On Mistletoe Farm Ms. Fletcher
Television
Year Title Role Notes
1990 City Lights 1 episode
1992, 1993 Rab C. Nesbitt 2nd Girl / Sheena 2 episodes
1993 Screen One Claire Donnelly 1 episode
1994 May to December Rosie / Rosie McConnachy 6 episodes
The Tales of Para Handy Catriona MacLean 1 episode
Takin' Over the Asylum Kathleen
1994–1995 Roughnecks Heather 13 episodes
1994, 1997 The Bill Diane Wyre / Kate Selby 2 episodes
1995 The Baldy Man Hairdresser 1 episode
Waiting Amanda Cookson
Temp Eileen TV film
Capital Lives Eileen 1 episode
1996 The Big Picnic Nessie TV film
Bad Boys Morag 6 episodes
Casualty Jess 1 episode
1997 Dangerfield Michelle Thomson 1 episode
1998 Mortimer's Law Naomi Childs 1 episode
1998–2000 City Central PC Sue Chappell 31 episodes
2000 EastEnders Fiona Morris Recurring
2001 Rebus Mhairi Henderson 1 episode
2001–2003 Clocking Off Babs Leach / Babs Fisher 5 episodes
2002 Outside the Rules Dawn Deacon TV film
Breeze Block 5 episodes
2003 Coming Up Rachel 1 episode
Silent Witness DI Becky Metcalf "Fatal Error" 2 episodes
Sweet Medicine Faye Brooks 5 episodes
2004 Casualty Stella 2 episodes
2005 Meet the Magoons Policewoman No.1 1 episode
Taggart Agatha Ferry
2005–2007 Extras Maggie Jacobs 13 episodes
British Comedy Award for Best Newcomer
British Comedy Award for Best Television Comedy Actress (2005)
Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Comedy Performance
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Miniseries or a Movie
Nominated – Broadcasting Press Guild Award for Best Actress
Nominated – British Comedy Award for Best Television Comedy Actress (2008)
Nominated – Rose d'Or Award for Best Sitcom Performance (follower-up)
2006 Eleventh Hour Rachel Young 4 episodes
2006–2010 Ugly Betty Christina McKinney 66 episodes (series regular; 1–3 / guest star; season 4)
Nominated – BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Acting Performance in Television
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2007, 2008)
2007–2015 Embarrassing Bodies Narrator Documentary
2009 No Holds Bard Isobel TV film
2009–2010 Accidentally on Purpose Olivia 18 episodes
2010 Accidental Farmer Erin Taylor TV film
2011 The Reckoning
2013 All Stars
Love and Marriage Sarah
The Escape Artist Kate Burton
2014–present Agatha Raisin Agatha Raisin TV series
2015–2019 Catastrophe Fran
2017 Love, Lies & Records Kate Dickenson 6 episodes
2018 DuckTales Downy McDuck Voice, 2 episode
2019 Trust Me Debbie Dorrell
2019–2022 After Life Emma
2021 Inside The Balmoral: Scotland's Finest Hotel Narrator Documentary series
Summer Camp Island Miss Mary Voice, episodes: "Susie and her Sister Chapter 1: Heathers", "Susie and her Sister Chapter 2: Hot Corn Girls", "Susie and her Sister Chapter 3: Mildred's Friend"
2022 The Airport: Back in the Skies Narrator Documentary series
Mayflies Anna Two-part drama
2023–present Shetland DI Ruth Calder

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Ashley Jensen para niños

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