Lesley Manville was married to fellow star Gary Oldman, who walked out on her when their son Alfie was just three months old
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Veteran actress Lesley Manville has spoken about her successful life on stage and screen – and says she owes it all to the sudden collapse of her marriage.

The 66-year-old was married to fellow star Gary Oldman, who walked out on her when their son Alfie was just three months old.

But the Oscar-nominated actress tells Desert Island Discs’ Lauren Laverne that becoming a single parent made her more determined to pursue her own acting dreams.

Ms Manville, who is currently winning rave reviews playing Princess Margaret in The Crown, tells Desert Island Discs today: ‘I had always imagined being married to Gary for a long time.

‘We were having the most amazing time together and we loved each other. We got married. I got pregnant on my honeymoon. We were having the best time, but then the rug was very severely pulled from under my feet.’

Lesley Manville was married to fellow star Gary Oldman, who walked out on her when their son Alfie was just three months old

Lesley Manville was married to fellow star Gary Oldman, who walked out on her when their son Alfie was just three months old

Lesley Manville was married to fellow star Gary Oldman, who walked out on her when their son Alfie was just three months old

Manville and Oldman met in 1984, married three years later and divorced in 1990 – the same year he wed Pulp Fiction star Uma Thurman.

Manville says: ‘I thought we’d be together for ever – we’d have a big family. But maybe if that had have happened, maybe I wouldn’t have the career I’ve got now.’

She says of the split: ‘I wasn’t going to fall apart. There was absolutely no question about it for me. I was going to carry on working. And I was also going to be the most brilliant mother. Somehow, I did it. It made me incredibly disciplined about my work.’

Ms Manville fights back tears speaking about her late sister Brenda, who died of a brain tumour. Describing Brenda’s ‘really difficult life’, she explains: ‘Unbeknown to her she got married to a man who was carrying Huntington’s [disease], which doesn’t present until you’re an adult. He tragically died. And, of course, the most awful thing was that her two daughters inherited it. So, my nieces died as adults and Brenda had to live through that, watch it.’

Ms Manville adds: ‘For all of that tragedy in her life she never put it upon you. She’d never make me feel guilty that I had a healthy, robust child. She would celebrate Alfie, celebrate my life.’

lDesert Island Discs is on BBC Radio 4 today at 11.15am.

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