Who is actor Daisy Haggard: star of dark comedy Boat

Boat Story’s standout star Daisy Haggard, praised for her ‘brilliant’ performance in the gritty dark comedy, has a string of acting credits under her belt (but you might not have known her name!)

  • Daisy Haggard, 45,  is currently starring in popular BBC one drama Boat Story
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Lovers of the small screen have been sharing their delight at BBC drama Boat Story, which has been branded ‘incredible’ and a ‘masterpiece’ by fans.

The violent thriller, laced with black humour, is currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer, with some fans saying they ‘watched the whole show’ in one go – and comparing it to Quentin Tarantino films.

Created by Harry and Jack Williams, the brothers who created The Missing and its spin-off Baptiste, the show tells the story of how Samuel (Peep Show’s Paterson Joseph) convinces Janet (Breeders’ Daisy Haggard) they should steal the drugs, sell them and split the proceeds. 

Those praised include Daisy Haggard, 45, who has been acting for more than 20 years, and whose face will be instantly recognisable to some – but they may just struggle to name her. 

A talented writer and stage actor as well as veteran of the screen, Daisy has been a stalwart when it comes to television creativity, playing a key artistic role in some major productions, and yet she has seemingly avoided going down the celebrity route, focussing more on her increasingly impressive portfolio of work than fame. 

Daisy Haggard is currently starring in highly-acclaimed BBC drama Boat Story, which has been compared to the black comedy of Quentin Tarantino. But she has a vast portfolio of work many people are unfamiliar with

Among some of her more high profile roles are a one-off spot in a 2016 Episode of Black Mirror (Bets) and she played the voice of the Ministry Lift in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

And perhaps her most well-known performance is in trans-Atlantic comedy Episodes, which stars Matt Le Blanc, Tamsin Grieg, and Stephen Mangan. In it, Daisy plays acerbic comedy head Myra Licht, in a much-loved performance in which the star is barely recognisable thanks in no small part to her impressive accent transformation.

Daisy comes from impressive creative pedigree: the daughter of film director Piers Haggard and his wife stained glass artist Anna Sklovsky. 

With such parentage, its unsurprising Anna has followed in their creative footsteps. It’s been reported that she always knew she wanted to act, and would spend her childhood, growing up in London creating dance performances, and acting shows.

Despite – or perhaps because of – his involvement in the industry, Daisy’s father was reportedly not keen for his daughter to become an actor.

However, when she was 15 years old, he reluctantly gave her a part in one of his productions: she played a teenage murderer in an episode of The Ruth Rendell Mysteries.

When the time came to apply to drama school, she struggled to get in anywhere. The second time she applied, she took up a place on the two-year course at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art. 

For almost a decade after graduating, she barely worked in the industry, and made a living largely from bit work, temporary positions in retails and the like, while starting to earn roles in productions.

2004: The Lenny Henry Show 

Daisy Haggard (pictured left) poses with Lenny Henry (pictured, centre) and Simon Farnaby (pictured, right) in a promo shot for The Lenny Henry Show

A notable early acting job for Daisy was appearing in two episodes of The Lenny Henry Show, in 2004 and 2005.

The programme featured a range of well-respected talented, including Alison Steadman and Hugh Laurie.

Other big names involved included Tamsin Greig and Sheridan Smith – as well of course as the eponymous star. 

The show, which was a revival of the star’s previous format, featured a range of sketches and recurring storylines, as well as stand-up. In it, Daisy played the part of Detective Sargent Anderson.

2005: Man Stroke Woman   

One of Daisy’s (pictured, bottom left) earlier parts was the sketch show Man Stroke Woman, alongside actors like Nick Frost and Amanda Abbington

Another of Daisy’s earlier notable roles was in the BBC3 sketch show Man Stroke Woman.

There were two series of the British television comedy programme, with the first airing in 2005, and the second in 2007. 

Directed by Richard Cantor and produced by Ash Atalla, it featured a range of recognisable faces including Amanda Abbington, Meredith MacNeill, Nicholas Burns and Nick Frost. 

According to the programme description: ‘Some people think men are from Mars and women from Venus. Well, this show pits the two together and turns it into sketch comedy. 

‘Acted by a troupe consisting of 20- to 30-somethings, the situations all strike close to home, but with a more extreme and comedic bent.’ 

2010: The Persuasionists

Daisy Haggard (pictured second left) had started to appear more and more on the small screen by the mid and late noughties

In between Man Stroke Woman and The Persuasionists, Dairy made appearances in a significant number of shows.

These included an appearance in one episode of Steve Coogan comedy Saxondale in 2006, after the first series of Man Stroke Woman, as well one 2009 episode of Ashes to Ashes.

She won a main role in the 2010 comedy The Persuasionists, acting alongside Adam Buxton and Simon Farnaby among others.

This programme was a comedy, which was set in the offices of fictional ad company HHH & H. 

While not a major hit, the show won some critical praise, and some audience approval, though it was seen as dated for the genre by some.

2020: Breeders

British actor Martin Freeman (pictured, left) starred alongside Daisy Haggard (pictured, right) in black comedy Breeders

Another black comedy, Breeders, became a small screen vehicle for Daisy’s talents.

In it, she stars alongside Martin Freeman (who also created the show with Chris Addison and Simon Blackwell).

Based partly on the life experiences of Martin Freeman, the programme shows two people struggling with parenthood. 

It ran for four seasons. The first premiered in March 2020 on Sky, with the second coming a year later.

The third instalment followed in March 2022, with the fourth and final series debuting in July this year.

2021: Back to Life

Daisy Haggard in Back to Life, which she co-wrote, and which was seen as an impressive achievement by many television fans

One of the high points of Daisy’s impressive career so far is, no doubt, the drama Back to Life, which she co-wrote with Laura Solon and which she stars in as lead character Miri.

According to the show description: ‘After 18 years behind bars, Miri Matteson returns home and stumbles back into adult life in the claustrophobic coastal town she once knew in this half-hour comedy series.’ 

While narratively and tonally different to Fleabag, Back to Life has been mentioned in the same draft as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s phenomenally successful show thanks to some similarities.

In the words of the New York Times: ‘But like that show, it stars a gifted actress in a role purpose-built to showcase her charm and abilities. As Miri, Haggard screams, she sings, she scowls, she flirts. She cuts her own hair and uses novelty balloons as a weapon and somehow makes it all seem natural.’

With what seems like universal praise from critics, it finally appears that this talented actor, who has graced the screens with quality performances for so many years, may now gain the recognition her talent deserves. 

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