Nicola Coughlan: Her journey since BCU

UNIVERSITY NEWS LAST UPDATED : 03 AUGUST 2023

Nicola Coughlan, star of Bridgerton and Derry Girls, graduated from Royal Birmingham Conservatoire’s School of Acting in 2011.

Originally from Galway in Ireland, Nicola studied at BCU before moving to London.

Here’s a look at some of her best-known roles so far!

Derry Girls

Nicola’s breakthrough role was in the Channel 4 comedy, 'Derry Girls', which ran for three series.

Filmed in Northern Ireland, the show was written by Lisa McGee, who used her own experiences to create a candid, one-of-a-kind, family-centred comedy set against the spectre of The Troubles in the early 1990s.

Derry Girls followed a group of Northern Irish teens growing up and has received huge critical acclaim, becoming the most-watched TV series in Northern Ireland since modern records began in 2002.

Nicola played the role of Erin’s best friend, Clare Devlin, described as a clever and ambitious goodie two-shoes.

Of Derry Girls, Nicola said: “Birmingham School of Acting really helped me embrace my individuality as an actor and I never felt the need to fit into any specific box. I hope that will come through in ‘Derry Girls’ and I feel incredibly lucky to be part of a Channel 4 show that has four strong, comedic female leads.”

Barbie

While the actress was busy with other filming commitments for most of this year, Nicola did make a brief appearance as Diplomat Barbie in Greta Gerwig’s hit movie 'Barbie'.

Coughlan told her 2.5m Instagram followers, “When I found out [Greta] wanted to have me be part of [Barbie], and then that I probably wouldn’t be able to make it work because of my schedule I was firstly elated and quickly heartbroken. So when I was asked if I wanted to pop into Barbieland even briefly my answer was an immediate, and very emphatic yes.”

Bridgerton

Nicola is probably best known for her role as Penelope Featherington in Netflix’s popular period drama, 'Bridgerton'. Set in the regency era, the show is known for its Gossip Girl-like narrator, Lady Whistledown, Penelope’s secret alter-ego.

Daughter of Lord and Lady Featherington, Penelope is presented to society alongside her two older sisters in season one. Close friends with Eloise Bridgerton, Penelope quickly became infatuated with her brother, Colin Bridgerton.

In the upcoming third series of Bridgerton, the alumna will be the lead star thanks to the season following her romance with Colin. We can’t wait to see her in action in her biggest on-screen moments so far.

Series three is due to land on Netflix later this year.

Other works

Bridgerton was not Nicola’s first period drama, as she played Hannah Dalton in 'Harlots' on Hulu, which was based on the book 'The Covent Garden Ladies' by Hallow Rubenhold.

Nicola also co-created the podcast ‘Whistle Through the Shamrocks’. The six-part comedy series featured a star-studded cast including 'Bridgerton' co-star Ben Miller, Stephanie Beatriz (Brooklyn Nine-Nine) and Jonathan Van Ness (Queer Eye), and tells the story of a family in Ireland whose livelihood is being threatened by an evil landlord.

Nicola has also appeared on RuPaul’s Drag Race, The Great British Bake Off and starred in Sam Mendes’ ‘Oliver Twist’ series on Audible alongside Kit Connor (Heartstopper) and Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out).

Upcoming work

Nicola is set to star alongside Nick Frost (Shaun of the Dead) and Aimee Lou Wood (Sex Education) in historical comedy, ‘Seize Them!’, due to be released in October 2023.

Making a return to Channel 4, Nicola will also be starring in the new comedy ‘Big Mood’, alongside Lydia West (It’s a Sin). The six-part series will follow two best friends, Maggie and Eddie, whose decade-long friendship is put to the test when faced with serious mental illness. ‘Big Mood’ was written and created by fellow Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Alumna, Camilla Whitehill.

We really are proud to call Nicola an Alumna and can’t wait to see what exciting things she does next in her career!

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