One of Britain's most esteemed comic and dramatic character actresses, Kathy Burke is a vibrant presence in films, television, and on the stage. Born in Islington, London, in 1965, she got her start with supporting roles in such films as Alex Cox's Sid and Nancy (1986). It was with her comic roles for BBC television that Burke made her first real impact, particularly as magazine editor Magda on the popular Absolutely Fabulous and as various characters on the Harry Enfield and Chums series. In 1993, she received the Royal Television Society's Best Actress Award for her performance in the BBC production of Danny Boyle's Mr. Wroe's Virgins.
Burke gained an introduction to an international audience in 1997 with her astonishing portrayal of an abused, pregnant wife in Gary Oldman's harrowing Nil by Mouth. Awarded the Cannes Festival's Best Actress Award and nominated for a BAFTA, Burke earned some long-overdue recognition for her screen work. The following year, she earned additional recognition with her solid performances in Shekar Kapur's lavishly acclaimed Elizabeth, which cast her as the ailing, vengeful Mary Tudor, and Dancing at Lughnasa, in which she played one of a group of close-knit Irish sisters. Burke then blended comedy and drama in This Year's Love, a romantic ensemble piece that featured her as an airport cleaning woman convinced that anyone who falls in love with her is clearly insane.