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Ashley Jensen - Biography

Ashley Jensen is the small town Scottish actress who's made it big in Hollywood

Ashley Jensen - Biography
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Who is Ashley Jensen?

Born on 11th August 1969, Ashley Jensen is a renowned Scottish actress and narrator. She garnered immense popularity and an Emmy nomination for her brilliant performance in the television series 'Extras,' where she featured from 2005 to 2007. J

Jensen has had a notable presence in several acclaimed American television series, including ABC's 'Ugly Betty' and the short-lived CBS sitcom 'Accidentally on Purpose.' Additionally, she has lent her acting prowess to the lead role in the comedy-drama detective television series 'Agatha Raisin.'

Early life

Jensen's career in drama was first nurtured at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Her maiden significant television role was as Clare Donnelly in the 1993 BBC drama 'Down Among the Big Boys.' Thereafter, she was seen in a variety of roles, including eccentric secretary Rosie McConnichy in the BBC comedy 'May to December' and as Fiona Morris in 'EastEnders.'

Career highlights

Jensen's career received a massive boost when she co-starred alongside Ricky Gervais in the acclaimed BBC Two/HBO television programme 'Extras.' Her portrayal of the socially inept Maggie Jacobs earned her numerous accolades, including best television comedy actress and newcomer awards at the 2005 British Comedy Awards, two British Comedy Awards and a BAFTA nomination in 2006. Her performance in the 2007 Christmas Special further secured her an Emmy Award nomination.

Breaking into Hollywood

In September 2006, Jensen embarked on a new journey in American television with her role as Christina McKinney on the ABC series 'Ugly Betty.' Originally an American character, the show's producers were so charmed by Jensen's accent that they decided to keep McKinney Scottish. However, Jensen had to exit the show in 2009 due to production relocation from Los Angeles to New York.

In January 2009, she starred in 'No Holds Bard,' a BBC Scotland special comedy shown on Burns Night, marking Robert Burns' 250th birthday. Jensen also lent her voice to narrate Channel 4's 'Embarrassing Illnesses' and 'Embarrassing Bodies.' Later, from September 2009 to May 2010, she was seen in the sitcom 'Accidentally on Purpose' as Olivia.

BBC's comedy 'Nativity!' saw Jensen playing Jennifer Lore, a Hollywood producer's secretary, in 2009. The following year, she starred in the one-off/pilot BBC comedy drama 'Accidental Farmer.' Later in 2011, she voiced Nanette the frog in the animated production 'Gnomeo & Juliet' and also starred in the ITV drama 'The Reckoning.'

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.' This was followed by an eight-part series on Sky1 that aired in June 2016.

Jensen also acted in 'Catastrophe,' a comedy series for Channel 4 from 2015 to 2019, and with Susan Calman in Calman's BBC Radio 4 comedy series 'Sisters.' She also starred in a six-part TV series for BBC TV, 'Love, Lies & Records,' portraying the gritty life in Leeds Registry Office.

Her most recent endeavours include reuniting with Ricky Gervais in the Netflix black comedy series 'After Life' and a role as Debbie Dorell in the second series of BBC TV drama 'Trust Me.' In November 2022, she was announced as the new lead in the BBC drama 'Shetland.'

Personal life

In her personal life, Jensen is the mother of one son from her marriage to actor Terence Beesley. The couple first met in 1999 while working on a stage production of 'King Lear.' Sadly, Beesley passed away in November 2017, leaving a profound impact on Jensen's life. Her journey through this personal tragedy further underscores her resilience, both on and off the screen.

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