Why we love Nicola Coughlan’s reaction to her new Oliver Twist role

Written by Kayleigh Dray

Kayleigh Dray is Stylist’s digital editor-at-large. Her specialist topics include comic books, films, TV and feminism. On a weekend, you can usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea and playing boardgames with her friends.

Nicola Coughlan – aka the much-loved star of Bridgerton and Derry Girls – has always made a point of remembering her long journey to stardom. 

It’s official; there is yet another star-studded adaptation of Charles Dickens’s Oliver Twist out there for us to sink our teeth into. This time, though, the timeless story has been transformed into an audio drama by Oscar winner Sam Mendes – and it boasts the extraordinary talents of Brian Cox, Daniel Kaluuya, Emilio Villa-Muhammad, Kit Connor, Paapa Essiedu, Julia Davis, Nick Mohammed, Patricia Allison and Diane Morgan.

Best of all, our beloved Nicola Coughlan also stars in the Audible production as the one and only Nancy. 


Easily the most complicated character in the entire story, Nancy is the lover, and eventual victim, of the dangerous thief Bill Sikes. She’s one of the oldest in Fagin’s gang of pickpockets, helping him not just to steal from Londoners, but also to help lure more children into his dubious care.

Perhaps most importantly, Nancy is – despite being presented as a ‘fallen woman’ throughout – unwaveringly kind, and as such becomes Oliver’s only true ally in the backstreets of Dickens’s London.

Nicola Coughlan at Stylist’s Remarkable Women Awards earlier this year.

As such, it has been a “lifelong dream” of Coughlan’s to play the character. And, celebrating today’s release of the Audible Original adaptation on her Instagram, the Bridgerton star made a point of remembering her acting roots.

“Slight upgrade from when I did Oliver in school and played Unnamed Workhouse Orphan Number 4,” she quipped, adding that she is “so delighted” to be a part of the extra-special production.

It is yet another endearing example of Coughlan’s unerring ability to stay grounded in the face of her own phenomenal success. To remember the hard work that she put into becoming an actor. To, above all else, look back on her journey to stardom and acknowledge exactly how far she’s come.

Indeed, in a recent interview with The Guardian, Coughlan explained that she refuses to be swept up by her rapid ascent to fame because she has not been part of the celebrity world long enough to take it for granted.

“Literally, I was working part-time in an optician’s five years ago,” she said. “So for me, if anyone is tuning in, if anyone makes a connection to me – that’s amazing.

“All my life, I feel like I’m a competition winner. Like – how did I end up here?”

NicolaCoughlan at the 2022 Bafta TV awards.

It is for this reason, perhaps, that Coughlan’s post about her new stint as Nancy has already gained almost 70,000 likes on Instagram and she’s been flooded with congratulatory messages. And that so many people, swept up in Coughlan’s obvious enthusiasm for the project, have declared that they, too, are “so excited” for her.

As one person put it: “Congratulations! We love to see it!”

Released today on Audible, Mendes’s adaptation of Oliver Twist was recorded in Audible’s London studio and is said to incorporate the sounds of the city. It also features Foley recordings captured in Dickens’s former London house at 48 Doughty Street, in the very same rooms where the author wrote Oliver Twist.

The audio drama, too, promises to bring “more depth and nuance” to the character of Nancy, according to Coughlan. 

And, as if all that weren’t reason enough to give it a listen, the audiobook features an original score from Dan Gillespie-Sells, lead singer of The Feeling and composer of hit West End musical Everybody’s Talking About Jamie.

Sounds like ideal wintry earphone fodder, right?

Sam Mendes Presents… Oliver Twist is available to download via Audible now.

Images: Getty

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