- Has dyslexia.
- Attended a convent boarding school.
- Made her West End debut in John Osborne's West of Suez opposite Ralph Richardson in 1971; and has acted with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre Company.
- Became a household name in England in the mid-1980s due to her work on the BBC sitcom Ever Decreasing Circles.
- Honored with the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2004; elevated to a Dame in 2016.
- Bestowed with an honorary Doctor of Letters degree by the University of Hull in North Yorkshire, England, in 2012.