Louise Brealey (born 27 March 1979), also credited as Loo Brealey, is an English actress, writer, and journalist. She is best known for playing student nurse Roxanne Bird in Casualty, and Molly Hooper in Sherlock.

Early life and education

Born in Bozeat, Northamptonshire, England, she attended Kimbolton School, proceeding to read History at Cambridge. She then trained at the Lee Strasberg Institute in New York City and with clown teacher Philippe Gaulier.


Brealey has written on cinema, art and music since her teens, contributing reviews and features for magazines including Premiere UK, Empire, Radio Times, SKY, The Face, Neon, AnOther and Total Film. She is the editor of Anarchy and Alchemy: The Films of Alejandro Jodorowsky (Creation Books, 2007).

Until April 2009, Brealey was the deputy editor of Wonderland, interviewing Liv Tyler for the February/March cover. Other features include the Pet Shop Boys and art collective Gelitin. A freelance Associate Producer, she has written documentary pitches for BBC Arts. In 2013 her first play Pope Joan was performed by the National Youth Theatre.


In March 2012 Brealey produced, co-wrote and co-starred in The Charles Dickens Show, a children's comedy drama for BBC 2 starring Jeff Rawle, Rupert Graves, Neil Dudgeon, Nathaniel Parker, Lynda Baron, Honeysuckle Weeks, Rupert Young, Adjoa Andoh, Sam Kelly, Geoffrey Streatfeild, Fiona Button and Mariah Gale.



Brealey made her television debut as Nurse Roxy Bird in two series of BBC drama Casualty. She then played Judy Smallweed in the 2005 BBC adaptation of Bleak House. Terry Wogan took Judy and her snaggle-toothed grandfather Smallweed (Phil Davis) to heart, regaling Radio 2 listeners with regular renditions of Davis' catchphrase "Shake me up, Judy!". Brealey followed Bleak House with a comic turn as Anorak, Alistair MacGowan's black-bobbed sidekick, in the Sunday night comedy-drama Mayo, cancelled by the BBC after just one series. The show fared better on its US release in 2007, with The Hollywood Reporter comparing it to Moonlighting. She auditioned for the role of Rose Tyler in Doctor Who.

She has since appeared in Law and Order UK and the BBC's new 1950's remake of Father Brown with Mark Williams (2013).

Brealey plays pathologist Molly Hooper in all three series of Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss's television drama, Sherlock.


Brealey made her stage debut in 2001 as 14-year-old Sophie in Max Stafford-Clark's production of Judy Upton's Sliding With Suzanne at London's Royal Court. The Daily Telegraph called her performance "a perfect poignant study of adolescence".

Her portrayal of child prodigy Thomasina in the Bristol Old Vic production of Tom Stoppard's Arcadia in 2005 was described as "excellent" by The Mail on Sunday, with The Daily Telegraph saying that "the evening belongs to Loo Brealey's Thomasina".

Next she starred in Dennis Kelly's award-winning two-hander After The End for Paines Plough, which opened in Russia before a hit Off-Broadway run in July 2006.

Brealey has worked twice with Sir Peter Hall. First in 2007 on Simon Gray's Little Nell, in which she played the title role opposite Michael Pennington and Tim Pigott-Smith. Based on The Invisible Woman, Claire Tomalin's award-winning biography of Charles Dickens's mistress Ellen Ternan, Little Nell followed her story from 17 to 44 years old. Critics described Brealey's performance as "excellent" (The Daily Mail), "impressive" (The Stage), "highly compelling" (The Independent) and "astounding" (British Theatre Guide).

The following year, Hall cast her as Sonya in his critically acclaimed production of Uncle Vanya, which opened London's Rose Theatre. The Telegraph called hers "a name to watch" and The Independent compared her to Joan Fontaine in Rebecca. The Spectator said: "Brealey is the only performer who uncovers the pathetic poetry beneath the indolent superficialities. Her big disadvantage is that she’s too attractive for ‘plain’ Sonya, but she disguises this by suggesting a lack of sexual allure with awkward giggles, squirrelly movements and a stupefied beaming naivety. All brilliantly done..."

In 2011 she was the sex-mad, short-frocked daughter of Julian Barratt and Doon Mackichan at the Young Vic in Richard Jones's box-office smash Government Inspector.

Last year she appeared with Stephen Mangan in Joe Penhall's Birthday at the Royal Court, directed by Roger Michell; and played three lead roles - Cassandra, Andromache and Helen of Troy - in Caroline Bird's sold-out production of The Trojan Women at London's Gate Theatre. The Times called her performances "electrifying" and The Guardian said she "pulled off a remarkable treble".

Brealey talked about the roles in the Evening Standard and wrote a piece for The Times about the experience of going naked on stage.

In February 2014 Brealey starred in August Strindberg's Miss Julie at the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow. The play ran from the 6-15th of the month, was directed by Dominic Hill and adapted by Zinnie Harris. Harris moved the play to the 1920s, 40 years from Strindberg's original and set in the Highlands of Scotland. Brealey performed opposite Keith Fleming as John (Jean), with Jessica Hardwick as Christine, the only other characters to appear onstage.


July 2008, Brealey played Pompilia Comparini in an adaptation of The Ring and the Book, broadcast as part of the BBC Radio 4 "Classic Serial"

Brealey played the role of Anna in Ed Harris' radio play The Wall, broadcast in February 2011.

On 9 December 2014 Brealey played ‘Zinevra' in a Radio 3 adaptation of 'The Wager' by Giovanni Boccaccio, presented by Terry Jones as a part of the 'Decameron Nights: Ten Italian Indelicacies Remixed from Boccaccio’.

In 2014 it was announced that Brealey will be taking part in the BBC radio adaptation of Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett's Good Omens. In the first episode she played Sister Mary Loquacious.


Brealey read the part of Megan Hipwell in the audiobook edition of Girl on The Train by Paula Hawkins.

TV and film credits

List of roles in television and film
2002–2004CasualtyRoxanne BirdTV series (95 episodes)
2003Tooth Faerie, TheThe Tooth FaerieShort film
2004I Want YouShort film
2005Bleak HouseJudy SmallweedTV series (8 episodes)
2005The English HaremSuzyTV film
2006MayoHarriet 'Anorak' TateTV series (8 episodes); credited as Loo Brealey
2007GreenAbiTV film; credited as Loo Brealey
2008Hotel BabylonChloeTV series (Episode: "Episode #3.7")
2010–presentSherlockMolly HooperTV series (10 episodes)
2010Reuniting the RubinsMiri Rubins
2011Law & Order: UKJoanne VickeryTV series (Episode: "Tick Tock")
2011Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, TheThe Best Exotic Marigold HotelHairdresserCredited as Loo Brealey
2012The Charles Dickens ShowNelly Trent/Scrooge/Tiny TimTV series
2013Father BrownEleanor KnightTV series (Episode: "The Mayor and the Magician")
2014Ripper StreetDr Amelia FraynTV Series, appeared in 7 of 8 episodes of the 3rd Series
2015Victor FrankensteinSexy Society Girl
2015Inspector George GentlyJo ParkerTV series (Episode: "Gently Among Friends")

Theatre credits

List of roles in theatre
2001Sliding with SuzanneSophieMax Stafford-ClarkRoyal Court Theatre
2005ArcadiaThomasinaRachel KavanaughBristol Old Vic
2006After the EndLouiseRoxana SilbertUS and Russian tour, Off-Broadway
2007Little NellNellPeter HallTheatre Royal, Bath
2008Uncle VanyaSonyaPeter HallRose Theatre, Kingston
2008PornographyActor 7Sean HolmesTraverse Theatre
2009Stone, TheThe StoneHannahRamin GrayRoyal Court Theatre
2009Ones That Flutter, TheThe Ones That FlutterJulie RayAbbey WrightTheatre 503
2010Country MusicLynseyLisa Blair & Eleanor WhileWest Yorkshire Playhouse
2011Government InspectorMayor's daughterRichard JonesYoung Vic
2012Trojan Women, TheThe Trojan WomenCassandra/Andromache/Helen of TroyChristopher HaydonGate Theatre (London)
2013The HerdClaireHoward DaviesBush Theatre
2014Miss JulieMiss JulieDominic HillCitizens Theatre
2014Letters LiveHay Festival, Wales
2015Letters LiveFreemasons' Hall
Husbands & SonsLizzie HolroydMarianne ElliottCo-production between National Theatre,London and Royal Exchange, Manchester