2011: The Year of Romola Garai..

Crouching over a tin potty relieving yourself on national television may not be everyone’s idea of a good time. But actress extraordinaire Romola Garai is making a career out of being the most fearless and forward thinking gal on the BBC block.

Her tin-toilet-going days catapulted her from TV extra-dom and small time film success to Queen of the TV drama in The Crimson Petal and the White earlier this year. Garai played Sugar, a well-read but streetwise prostitute from the streets of Victorian London. The young girl can’t believe her luck when her best customer offers to put her up in a plush pad as his own personal sex toy, but Sugar’s emotions take a battering when she finds herself unable to separate business from pleasure. Garai gave her most critically acclaimed performance to date alongside the likes of Shirley Henderson and Richard E. Grant in this miniseries and there is no doubt that it brought her to the serious attention of audiences and casting directors alike.

Watch her encounter with the upturned nose of Lady Bridgelow below:

The flame-haired lovely most recently played pioneering female news producer Bel Rowley in BBC One’s The Hour. This BBC drama seemed hell bent on replicating the glamour and panache of HBO’s hit vintage drama, Mad Men. But somehow it got lost along the way. The series may have been met with mixed reviews, our Romola pulled off the ambitious Bel Rowley with her trademark combination of intelligent sassiness.

And let’s face it, smoking might be bad for you but Romola looks chuffing cool in this fifties get-up..

She may be ascending through the ranks of the BBC’s drama department but everyone has skeletons in their closet. And Garai has some real horrors lurking in the back of her armoire. Who would ever believe that Dirty Dancing 2 would be a good idea? Then transport the whole cringeworthy affair to Havana and give the leading lady a dodgy American accent (“I didn’t wanna mess up your jarrbâ€?). What were you thinking Romola?

I might add that Jon Slattery off of Mad Men also makes an inexplicable appearance in this 2004 vom fest..

Brush a few more mothballs away and we enter the realm of Garai’s first leading film appearances. I Capture the Castle saw the young actress play the role of Cassandra in Dodie Smith’s coming-of-age love story. It may not have won any awards but critics were kind to Garai’s earnest performance as the young girl. Coincidentally, this is also where Garai had her first flesh-on-tin encounter when she takes a bath on-screen – and in front of two rather audacious gentleman callers no less!

But, as you would expect, Romola’s silver screen career has not all been angsty teenage averageness. Her role as the grown-up Briony Tallis in the Oscar-nominated 2007 film, Atonement, was an impressive step towards hitting the big time.

Fast forward to 2009 and Romola’s penchant for period drama was confirmed when she appeared in the BBC’s adaptation of Emma. She died her hair brilliant blonde to play the quintessential English Rose. It is unclear whether she had more fun as a blonde, but it is clear that she got nominated for a Golden Globe. Nice one Romola.

With two very promising irons in the fire, Romola is sure to continue flying from strength to strength as a result of her 2011 year of critical acclaim, and despite her shady dirty dancing past. Junkhearts is due to be released on 4 November and tells the story of a troubled alcoholic ex-soldier. Muse, follows the life of a brilliant pianist who has achieved great success but at the cost his family and friends. Both period dramas, both starring Romola. Guaranteed success stories? We think so.