Cherie Lunghi





4/4/1952 , Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, England

Birth Name

Cherie Mary Lunghi




Cherie was born in Nottingham on the 4th April 1952. Her mother, Gladys, [commonly known as Gypsy] was from Newcastle and her father [Alessandro] was born in Fermignano, Italy.

An only child, Cherie was raised by her mum in post-war London in a boarding house in Kensington. Cherie describes her neighbours at the time as extended family - people who were always ready to baby-sit whenever necessary. They would tell stories of the Blitz, how they survived the bombing of London and how American servicemen would arrive with bottles of Scotch and nylons. Stories lapped-up by the young Cherie.

She was a bridesmaid at the wedding of two of her fellow lodgers at the boarding house and there was also a former pilot who would read Alice in Wonderland to her. These are just two of the many people Cherie remembers affectionately. Originally, Cherie wanted to be a ballerina, but at the age of 11 she was enrolled at the Arts Educational Trust School in Hyde Park, London - a stage school attended by fellow pupils: Nigel Havers, Jenny Agutter and Jane Seymour. Cherie describes the school as having a rich creative atmosphere without pretensions, unlike "pushy showbizzy stage schools". She remembers the people who ran the school: "three old-fashioned English ladies with a vocation to teach us". She recalls that the school had a fine academic record and that you "only got to work professionally if you worked hard at your lessons".

Hard work lead to her getting her first professional work at the age of 13 when she played Alice in a radio version of Alice in Wonderland. After leaving the Arts Educational Trust School she attended drama school, spending three years at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

Even though her parents divorced when she was very young, Cherie regularly saw her father. She remembers how he would take her out for tea or to the cartoon cinema in Baker Street. She says she had a very happy childhood and was not the "depressed child of divorced parents".

On 15th February 1975, Cherie married a South African actor called Ralph Lawson. However, this was no ordinary marriage, this was a marriage of convenience to allow Lawson to stay in the U.K. Lawson was legally entitled to stay in the country as he was a student, but when his student status ended, he was legally obliged to leave the United Kingdom. They never lived together as husband and wife. In 1982, Cherie petitioned for divorce. Lawson had returned to South Africa and was living with his 'close companion' Murray Lapan.

Cherie joined the Royal Shakespeare Company at the age of 24 where she spent two years working alongside Dame Judy Dench and Sir Ian McKellen. Her big break came when she played the part of Guenevere in Excalibur. Many parts followed on television throughout the 80s and in 1989 she starred in The Manageress - arguably the TV role which made her name. Cherie's daughter, Nathalie, was born in 1986. Her father is film director Roland Joffe. Nathalie has followed her mother's career path into the world of acting. Something mum Cherie is proud of; she sees Nathalie as continuing the "family business". Cherie spent some time living and working in Los Angeles, but returned to England where work continued to come her way, playing character's in programmes as diverse as Eastenders and The Brief. She has also appeared in films. Two notable performances include the part of Guenevere in John Boorman's Excalibur [1981] and Carlotta in The Mission [1986 - directed by Roland Joffe].

Acting doesn't take up all of her time... she is a keen and talented painter and spent a month in Florence where she studied painting and enjoying the experience of going to school every day to learn.

In 2001, at the age of 49, she appeared in the magazine FHM, tastefully modelling lingerie. When asked if she was overawed to be appearing alongside younger women, her reply was assured - "not at all! The best ten years of a woman's life start between 39 and 40".

Cherie continues to work regularly in television. She played the part of Eva Luckes in the BBC1 series Casualty 1906/1907. She also turned her hand (or should that be leg?) to dancing when she took part in the 2008 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

  • © BBC
  • © 2008 BBC
  • © 2008 BBC
  • © 2008 BBC