Pauline Perpetua Quirke (born 18th July 1959) is an English actress best known for her role as Sharon in the comedy series Birds of a Feather, alongside her lifelong friend and frequent acting partner Linda Robson. Currently, she is well known as the character Hazel Rhodes in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale.
Pauline began her career as a child actress aged eight with an appearance in Dixon of Dock Green. She has appeared in many movies and TV shows since that time.
As a teenager in the 1970s, she hosted three children’s TV series: You Must Be Joking (1975), Pauline’s Quirkes (1976) andPauline’s People (1978–79) (which also featured Linda Robson). She also had a small role in the movie The Elephant Man in 1980, along with Emmerdale colleague Lesley Dunlop.
Her career really began to take off in 1989, when she began playing the part of Sharon Theodopolopodus in the BBC sitcom Birds of a Feather opposite Linda Robson and Lesley Joseph. She became a household name and remained with the series until it ended in 1998 after 9 series and over 100 episodes.
In 1996, she starred in the BBC television adaptation of The Sculptress by Minette Walters, receiving much critical acclaim for her performance. As Birds of a Feather was ending she began playing DI Maisie Raine in Maisie Raine a drama series on BBC1. It ran for 2 series from 1998 – 1999. From 2000 to 2003, she starred alongside Warren Clarke in the BBC series Down To Earth.
She made a return to sitcom in 2001 when she starred alongside Neil Stuke, Robert Daws and Pippa Haywood in BBC sitcom Office Gossip. After a promising start with over 6 million viewers the ratings dropped and it was cancelled after just one series. Quirke however, did win an award for Most Popular Comedy Performer at The National Television Awards.
In 2002, she starred alongside Nitin Ganatra in 6 episodes of Being April, a comedy drama for BBC One. She appeared in Carrie’s War in 2004 and in 2005, played a major role in The Bill as Cath Wilson, wrongly convicted of murdering a child.
In 2006, Quirke played Colleen McCabe in The Thieving Headmistress and in 2008, she made a one off appearance in an episode of My Family as Joan the Bank Robber.
Quirke has frequently been seen in the audience of the hit show Strictly Come Dancing and has appeared on its companion show It Takes Two more than once to talk about how much she enjoys it. She was a contestant on BBC’s Celebrity MasterChef in June 2007.
In 2009 and 2010, she played the lead role in BBC daytime drama series Missing as DS Mary Jane “MJ” Croft, head of a Missing Persons Unit in Dover, Kent.
In May 2010, it was announced that Quirke would be joining the rural soap opera Emmerdale. Quirke said of joining the soap “I’ve never done anything like this before so it’s something different for me and I’m very happy to be a part of it”.
She has two children and is married to producer Steve Sheen; they live in Penn, Buckinghamshire. On The Paul O’Grady Show in 2007 she told of how she suffers from severe stage fright and nerves and she usually refuses to appear on live TV shows. In 2009 she was diagnosed with osteoarthritis and underwent a hip replacement operation.