Jenny Agutter

Jennifer Ann "Jenny" Agutter (born 20 December 1952) is a BAFTA- and Emmy award-winning English actress best known in recent years for her role as Tessa Phillips in the British TV drama series Spooks. She is also known for playing Alex Price in An American Werewolf in London and Jessica 6 in Logan's Run.


Early life

Agutter was born in Taunton, Somerset, the daughter of Catherine "Kit" (née Lynam) and Derek Brodie Agutter, a former British Army officer and live entertainment organizer. As a child, she lived in Dhekelia, Cyprus and Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. She was discovered while at Elmhurst Ballet School when a casting agent was looking for a young English-speaking girl for a film. She did not get the part, but he recommended her to the producers of East of Sudan (1964).


Agutter first came to the attention of television audiences as Roberta in a BBC drama of The Railway Children, and went on to play the same part in Lionel Jeffries's 1970 film of the book. Her quality of ingenuousness had led to an earlier more serious role in what is now regarded as something of a horror cult film I Start Counting (1969). She also won an Emmy for her television role as Fritha in the Hallmark Hall of Fame production of The Snow Goose (1971). Agutter continued a transition to adult roles in Walkabout (1971), playing a teenage schoolgirl who was lost in the Australian outback with her younger brother. She first auditioned for the role in 1967 but funding problems delayed filming until 1969. The delay in production meant Agutter was 16 at the time of filming, and the director took advantage of her new legal status by including nude scenes in the film. She commented during an interview at the 2005 Bradford Film Festival at the National Media Museum that she was shocked by the film's explicitness when she first viewed it, but is still on good terms with director Nicolas Roeg.

Agutter moved to Hollywood at 21 and appeared in a number of films over the next decade, including The Eagle Has Landed (1976), Logan's Run (1976), Equus (1977), Sweet William (1980), and An American Werewolf in London (1981). Since 1990, Agutter has deliberately focused on the upbringing of her son and much of her work focused away from film and television work and rather involved audio recordings and supporting various charities, notably the Cystic Fibrosis Trust, of which she is a patron (she is also a carrier of the disease). Nonetheless, she had a guest role in Series 6 of Red Dwarf, and appeared in the TV series TECX, The All New Alexei Sayle Show, and And The Beat Goes On. In 2000, she made her third appearance in a production of The Railway Children, produced by Carlton TV and this time playing the role of the mother. In 2002, Agutter featured in the BBC television series Spooks and in 2007, she starred in the first episode of the new series of David Jason's ITV television series Diamond Geezer. In 2007, she also guest-starred in the Doctor Who audio drama The Bride of Peladon.


Agutter also attained a reputation for scenes containing nudity in her films during the 1970s. Her first nude scenes - filmed when she was just 16 - came in Walkabout (1971). They included a five minute skinny-dipping scene inter-cut with shots of the aboriginal guide hunting for food which was cut from the original US release, and also some more nude bathing during a flashback sequence at the end of the film. Both of these scenes heavily feature both rear and full-frontal nudity, but a number of the swimming sequences were at a distance, or blurred by the water. The uncut version was originally rated AA (14) in the UK, though has since been rated 12. Walkabout was made before The Railway Children but released after it, and Agutter's nude scene shocked some audiences that associated Agutter with the prim and reserved character she played in that film. It was seen by some as an attempt to break away from the child roles with which she had become associated.

It was five years before Agutter did any more nudity and it came in the form of the PG rated Logan's Run (1976). She has a brief full-frontal nude scene at distance, and it is one of the rare instances of a PG film featuring nudity.

Her most explicit nude scenes came in Equus (1977), in which Agutter attempts to seduce stable boy Peter Firth. There is full frontal and rear nudity from both actors. She followed up Equus with Monte Hellman's China 9, Liberty 37 (1978) which also included a couple of full frontal nude scenes.

Towards the end of the 1970s she also appeared in nude scenes in Sweet William (1980) and An American Werewolf in London (1980) which featured just topless nudity. In the drama series Spooks (2002) she appeared in a sex scene that did not feature any nudity.

Personal life

Agutter remained single during her many years of residence in Los Angeles, and it has been reported she never lived with a man until she was married. In 1989 while attending an arts festival in Bath she met Johan Tham, a Swedish hotelier who at the time was a director of Cliveden Hotel in Berkshire. In 1990, she became pregnant by Tham and they subsequently married on 4 August of that year. Their son Jonathan was born on 25 December 1990. They live in Camberwell, London. For many years Agutter, a big admirer of Cornwall, has owned a second home on The Lizard (the most southerly point in the UK).


Year Title Format Role Other notes
1964 ''East of Sudan Film Debut aged 11
1966 A Man Could Get Killed Film Linda Frazier
1968 Gates to Paradise Film Maud
Star! Film Pamela Roper
1970 The Railway Children Film Bobbie Waterbury
1970 The Great Inimitable Mr. Dickens TV Film
1971 Walkabout Film Girl
1972 Shelley Television Mary Shelley BBC series
1976 Logan's Run Film Jessica 6
The Eagle Has Landed Film Molly Prior
1977 Equus Film Jill Mason
1978 China 9, Liberty 37 Film Catherine Sebanek
The Riddle of the Sands Film Clara
1980 Sweet William Film Ann Walton
1981 Othello Film Desdemona
An American Werewolf in London Film Nurse Alex Price
1984 Secret Places Film Miss Lowrie
1985 Love's Labour's Lost Television Rosaline
1990 Child's Play 2 Film Joanne Simpson
Darkman Film Burn Doctor uncredited cameo
1993 Red Dwarf Television Prof. Mamet
2000 The Railway Children Television Mother ITV
2001 The Parole Officer Film Victor's Wife
2002 At Dawning Escaping woman
Spooks Television Tessa Phillips
2004 Number One Longing, Number Two Regret Kenosha
The Alan Clark Diaries Television Jane Clark BBC TV series
2005 New Tricks, Season 2, Episode 1 Television Yvonne Barrie BBC TV Series
2007 Diamond Geezer Television Vanessa ITV series
Irina Palm Television
2008 The Invisibles Television Barbara Riley BBC TV series


External links

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