Shadow and Bone

Zoë plays Baghra, a stern teacher, in this major new fantasy series based on Leigh Bardugo’s bestselling Grishaverse novels. Series one and two are streaming now on Netflix.

Criminal Record

Zoë plays the fragile mother of a young detective reinvestigating an old murder case in this crime drama series currently streaming on Apple TV+.


Rare showing of Memento Mori on BBC Four

1 February 2024 16:01

As I type, I’m unsure if these words will appear on or not. Technical problems that followed a PHP upgrade last autumn made updating the website impossible until now (perhaps...). Thanks to fantastic work from my IT support team (otherwise known as my brother, who also built the site), I’ve at least reached the point at which I can try to add news and hope Zoë Wanamaker fans will be able to read it.

Being forced to take a three-month break from this 21-year-old project resulted in a strange sense of loss and grief. So it’s oddly appropriate that the first news article I need to write after that break covers Memento Mori, the 1992 comedy-drama adapted from Muriel Spark’s novel of the same name, in which Zoë stars alongside a host of other fabulous actors – Michael Hordern, Maggie Smith, Thora Hird, Stephanie Cole, Maurice Denham, Renée Asherson (the list goes on)... And don’t worry, the story isn’t half as grim as the title might lead you to expect!

This delightful, poignant programme was produced for the Screen Two series of thought-provoking one-off dramas. On 17 January, BBC Four viewers were treated to a rare showing of it – the first time Memento Mori has been repeated by the broadcaster in all these years. The memento mori (or ‘reminder of death’) takes the form of a series of eerie, bizarre phone calls received by a diverse group of elderly folk in 1950s London. Each call delivers the same message: ‘remember you must die’, though the recipients have rather different reactions to those words. Some are troubled; others brush them off.

Zoë’s character, Olive Mannering, is the attractive, savvy granddaughter of one of the group’s members, rambunctious poet Percy Mannering, who’s barely got a penny to his name. Olive knows one of Percy’s well-off pals has a taste for stockings and French music – and she also knows exactly how to use that knowledge to earn a little money for her granddad. Later in the story, it becomes apparent she’s willing to go to even greater lengths to secure his financial future, as well as her own.

It’s Olive who sums up the group at the heart of Memento Mori best. ‘They can be a bit overwhelming, can’t they, especially when you first meet them? But they sort of grow on you.’ Indeed, I can almost guarantee you’ll care about all of those eccentric, entertaining characters by the end of the programme, while wondering how on earth she puts up with them!

Don’t miss your chance to (re)discover Memento Mori - it’s on the BBC iPlayer for the next couple of weeks.

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