Who is The Sixth Commandment actress Annabel Scholey?

From stage star to BBC darling! The Sixth Commandment actress Annabel Scholey who was raised by a fireman and nurse has become a familiar face in gritty dramas – after making her big break in theatre alongside Kevin Spacey

  • The Wakefield-born actress, 39, stars alongside Timothy Spall in the BBC drama 
  • READ MORE: The Sixth Commandment viewers are blown away by Timothy Spall’s performance as a gay academic murdered by churchwarden – as they demand he wins a BAFTA 

When Annabel Scholey appeared on television screens last night as Ann-Marie Blake in the opening episode of The Sixth Commandment, many viewers would likely have recognised her.

The actress, 39, from Wakefield, Yorkshire, has appeared in many BBC dramas including smash-hit The Split alongside Nicola Walker, with whom she shares a close working relationship – and even a cameo appearance in Dr Who.

However, in addition to captivating audiences in gritty, hard-hitting dramas, Annabel is also a gifted singer and classically trained, having started out on stage.

Eagle-eyed theatre fans may recognise the actress from her stint playing the dark character of Lady Anne in Richard III at The Old Vic in 2011, alongside Kevin Spacey who was artistic director at the time (Spacey has since been charged with sexual assault against four men in the UK and is currently on trial. He denies all charges). 

Outside of her career, Scholey is a mother to daughter Marnie, four, and she now lives in London with her Northern Irish husband, actor and writer Ciarán McMenamin.

Annabel Scholey, 39, is a British actres from Wakefield who is currently starring in gritty BBC drama The Sixth Commandment. Pictured with her husband Ciaran McMenamin

Annabel was born in 1984 to a fireman father and a nurse mother. Her younger sister now works as a teacher. 

Although she didn’t come from a performing background, Annabel decided to pursue the arts and went to the Oxford School of Drama after finishing secondary school, after earning a scholarship. 

In 2018, she told Fabric Magazine that it was her father who suggested she consider drama school after spending her childhood dancing around the house and attending dance classes. 

She added, in an interview with The Big Issue, that her parents had worked ‘tirelessly’ to save money in case their daughter didn’t manage to obtain a scholarship, so they could afford to send her there and pay for her fees as a plan B.

Annabel is currently starring as Anne-Marie Blake in The Sixth Commandment, who is the concerned niece of Anne Moore-Martin 

Annabel’s big break in theatre came in 2011 when she starred alongside the now-disgraced actor Kevin Spacey in Shakespeare’s Richard III at The Old Vic in London

‘I tried so hard to get into drama school and got turned down so many times. It was gutting. I knew what I wanted to do – I didn’t want to take a year out, I didn’t want to wait,’ she said.

Annabel also revealed that she considered law as a back-up career if acting didn’t work out for her – something she began to reflect on after being cast as a divorce lawyer in The Split. 

She revealed that her research for the role of troubled character Nina made her think there was some aspect of her personality which may have been well suited for a courtroom.

Describing her competitive streak and assertiveness as working in her favour if she ever decided to go down that route, Annabel added it was definitely ‘more fun’ to be an actress.

When she first jumped into her acting career and offers of roles flooded in, Annabel joked that she said yes to everything offered to her as she couldn’t bear to turn roles down.

Now, she is able to be more discerning in her jobs and told the magazine she looks for ‘tricky’ parts.

Annabel plays the character of Nina in The Split, another gritty BBC drama about divorce lawyers

Annabel, 39, is fairly tight-lipped about her private life but shares the occasional glimpse into behind-the-scenes antics

She said: ‘I think that it is good to be a bit scared about playing a part, and to know that I am going to have to push myself. I want to get the little adrenaline rush, stomach flip.’

As she discussed her latest projects, Annabel admitted that she would likely watch The Split with her friends and her husband, but joked she would be looking at the screen from ‘behind the sofa’ as she doesn’t enjoy watching herself on TV.

Before Annabel became a familiar face on television screens, she was storming the stage as a highly successful theatre actress who had starred in several Shakespearean plays.

However, she told The Big Issue it was a long time before she felt she was getting somewhere in her career, and recalled weekly tearful phone calls to her mother back in Wakefield where she told her ‘I just can’t do this’ after receiving rejection after rejection.

But looking back, she realises the theatre work was coming in fairly consistently throughout her twenties – and her big break on stage came when she starred as Lady Anne in Richard III, alongside Kevin Spacey as the titular character.

The Old Vic production, directed by Sam Mendes and staged as Spacey’s swan song as he stepped down as the theatre’s artistic director, received rave reviews, with Annabel herself noted as a standout star.

Now, as she takes on big roles in massive BBC dramas, with her latest appearance in The Sixth Commandment alongside Timothy Spall, it is likely Annabel is drawing upon her decade in theatre to inform her on-screen parts.

Starring as Anne-Marie Blake, the concerned niece of Anne Moore-Martin who is a potential second victim of Ben Blake, Annabel told the BBC it was a ‘real privilege’ to play a character who exists in real life and is still alive. 

Annabel previously told The Big Issue she ‘learned loads’ from actors she had starred alongside in stage productions, before she landed her first big TV roles at the age of 30.

Off screen, Annabel lives with her husband, actor and writer Ciaran McMenamin and their daughter Marnie in south-east London.

The family spent lockdown in Sligo, Ireland, after they got stuck when visiting Ciaran’s parents.

However, despite being far from home, Annabel revealed it allowed her to spend time with her ‘proper little friend’ Marnie.

Although she misses Marnie when she is filming projects away from home, Annabel said she is unsure if she will have more children after an uncomfortable pregnancy in which she suffered nausea and carpal tunnel syndrome, which left her feeling ‘annoyed’.

‘I’ve only ever wanted a little girl and I have her,’ she said.

Ciaran, also a well known actor, has previously revealed he had always vowed never to date an actress – until he met Annabel.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph in 2016, he said: ‘Next year I marry an amazing woman and – touch wood – we will be blessed with little folk. I can’t wait to be a dad.’

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