ACT News


Stage fright as Margolyes ponders turning 'binational' with PM's aid

Famed British actress Miriam Margolyes has graced the stage many times, but there is one performance in Canberra on Saturday that has her particularly nervous.

After a long time love affair with Australia, she is going to ''go legit'', as she puts it and become an Australian citizen at a ceremony with Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

''It's very big for me but I never expected anyone else to be interested - I'm very flattered,'' she said yesterday from her adopted home in Robertson in the southern highlands.

''I'm not a very formal person so the ceremony actually frightens me because I [usually] know what I'm doing on stage - but this is different and it's a bit exciting.''

The 71-year-old Margolyes, who was awarded an OBE by the Queen for services to drama, has a long list of screen credits to her name, including roles in two of the Harry Potter movies.

She bought a house in Robertson while taking part in the film Babe.


But there is something dearer to her heart that has compelled her to become a citizen.

''My partner of 44 years is Australian and she is the main reason for becoming Australian - because I want to be closer to her,'' she said.

''We met in 1968 in London when she was on a research trip to London. Being in Australia makes me happy, my partner is Australian and my home is in Australia and it's ridiculous not to be Australian - it's a logical step to take.''

Margolyes said she would maintain her British citizenship as well as take on Australian citizenship.

''I think I should be described as 'bi' - not bisexual because I'm not - I'm gay - but 'binational' because I retain British nationality and I add to it being Australian, which is like having your cake and eating it,'' she said.

''I am not the sort of person who divests myself of everything that came before I came to Australia. I want to take all the knowledge and experiences I gained when I was in England and put it at the service of Australia, because I have to bring something to Australia, not just money but myself.

''It would be absurd to say I'm not British - you can hear it when I speak.''

Margolyes was born in Oxford and first visited Australia in 1980.

Her interest in her new home was piqued well before, when she was about 12.

''Manning Clark came out on a sabbatical to Oxford and I met his family and was captivated,'' she said.

Margolyes formed a life-long friendship with the family and later encountered more famous Australians at university.

''I became friends with Clive James and Germaine Greer,'' she said.

''They were the most intelligent and glamorous people I had ever met and I thought Australia must be a wonderful place - and it is.''

Margolyes spent last year on a year-long tour with a one-woman show about Charles Dickens' women, to mark the bicentenary of the author's birth. It took her to many places in Australia as well as overseas.