|Born||Cherie M. Lunghi
4 April 1952
Nottingham, England, UK
Cherie M. Lunghi (born 4 April 1952) is an English film, television and theatre actress. She is well known to British audiences, having starred in many TV dramas. International audiences may know her from her role as Guinevere in the 1981 film Excalibur. Her long list of screen, stage and TV credits include football manageress Gabriella Benson in the 1990s television series The Manageress and a memorable series of adverts for Kenco coffee. She also competed in the 2008 series of Strictly Come Dancing. She is the mother of the actress Nathalie Lunghi.
Lunghi was born in Nottingham. Her father, Alessandro Lunghi, was Italian, and her mother, Gladys Lee, was English. After her father returned to Italy, she was brought up in west London by her mother and her aunts.
Educated at the Arts Educational School in London, Lunghi played Hedvig in The Wild Duck and Alice in Alice in Wonderland on BBC radio while still at school. After graduating from Homerton College, Cambridge and London's Central School of Speech and Drama, she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in the late 1970s, taking leading roles such as Perdita, Cordelia and Viola.
Lunghi left the RSC to pursue a career in film, with probably her best known role as Guinevere in the 1981 film Excalibur. She is the mother of Nathalie Lunghi from her relationship with the director Roland Joffé. After the birth of her daughter and the breakdown of her relationship with Joffé she took various short-term parts, including playing the band members' mutual love interest in the music video for Level 42's song "Something About You".
In the mid-1980s she relocated to Los Angeles for eight years, but returned to England to support her mother, and took on the lead role in football drama The Manageress. As a result, in 1995 she was placed 92nd in the "100 Sexiest Women in the World" by the publishers of FHM magazine. In addition to her varied film and television work, she is perhaps best known for appearing in a long-running advertising campaign on British television for Kenco coffee from the late 1990s onwards.
In 2006 Lunghi appeared on television in Casualty 1906, playing Matron Eva Luckes, and had a recurring guest role in the regular Casualty series as Professor Camille Windsor, the mother of junior doctor Toby Da Silva.
In 2008 Lunghi competed in the sixth series of BBC television's Strictly Come Dancing (14-week run), partnered by James Jordan. After her first dance, the Foxtrot on the Ladies Night in Week 2, she scored the highest points of the first two weeks (33).
She beat this score with another series best score of 35/40 for the Rumba to finish week 4 top of the remaining 12 contestants with an average score of 34/40. The score for her third dance, the American Smooth was an impressive 34 to maintain her average, though she slipped to 31/40 for the Paso Doble, and further to 26/40 on her fifth outing, in the Salsa. She returned to form the following week with a Waltz, scoring 36/40 and was joint first on the leaderboard. She was voted off the competition on 16 November 2008, (Week 9) losing by 3 votes to 1 in the dance-off against model Lisa Snowdon after performing a Cha Cha Cha. In the January/February 2009 Strictly Tour Cherie danced an American Smooth and a Rumba with James Jordan.
Lunghi was briefly married to South African student Ralph Lawson after the pair met while studying at London’s Central School of Speech and Drama. The 1975 marriage was one of convenience so that Lawson could remain in the UK. The couple never lived together as man and wife, instead staying in separate digs in Newcastle. Lawson ended up moving back to South Africa two years later after being offered a new job.
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