Nisha Nayar was born on the 7th June in Oyster Bay, Tanzania, where she spent her formative years 'running around on beaches' before moving at the age of six to Toronto, Canada. Her family then relocated to the UK where she grew up in St. Albans, Hertfordshire.

She attended the Royal Masonic School for Girls and trained at the highly renowned Anna Scher Theatre school in London.

Her first major stage role came in 1991 when she was cast alongside Charlotte Coleman, Jane Horrocks and Kevin Whately in Our Own Kind at the Bush Theatre in London. 

Directed by the highly respected Dominic Dromgoole, Nisha played the part of Naila, a school girl with journalistic ambitions.

The following year she got her first big break in the film industry, playing Ladhu, one of the naughty teenage sisters in the ground breaking british comedy, Bhaji on the Beach, which was directed by Gurinder Chadha.

This was immediately followed by the BBC adaptation of Hanif Kureshi's The Buddha of Suburbia where she played the leading role of Jamila. 

Directed by Roger Michell, the series was nominated for both the BAFTA and Royal Television Society awards for best drama serial in 1993. It continues to be one of Nisha's favourite acting experiences.

Next up, was her first regular television role as twinkly eyed Nasreen in Cardiac Arrest, the BBC's radical and critically acclaimed medical drama.

Written by Jed Mecurio and directed by Sam Miller, the series was nominated for the 1995 best serial award at the Scottish BAFTAS. 

Different for Girls, directed by Richard Spence, was the second feature film Nisha starred in. She played Angela, the very confused girlfriend of Rupert Graves' chaotic Prentice.

This was followed by the BBC drama Holding On in which she played football journalist, Karen Pope, opposite Phil Daniels.

Directed by Adrain Shergold, it won the BAFTA and Royal Television Society awards for best drama serial in 1998.

Sixth Happiness in 1997, provided Nisha with both the opportunity to film in Mumbai, India and the challenge of playing Tina, a character that was deaf and an elective mute.

Her preparation was extensive as she had to master sign language and learn to sing in Hindi backwards in order to lip-synch the fantasy sequences.

In 1999, directed by Robin Shepperd and Douglas Mackinnon, Nisha starred in the BBC six parter Out of Hours, playing the impish, Debra, alongside Dominic West, Toby Jones and Lindsey Coulson.

Also that year, came The Darkest Light, a film shot in Yorkshire, in which Nisha played a character named Nisha, alongside Stephen Dillane and Kerry Fox.

Directed by Simon Beaufoy and Bille Eltringham, she has described it as 'a haunting and beautiful' film.

In 2000, Nisha wrote, produced and directed her first short film, New Found Thing

Shot on location in the Epping Forest woods, it starred a six year old actress, Hayley Bird.

This was also the year Nisha filmed her first of five series' of The Story of Tracy Beaker.

Adapted by the BBC from Jacqueline Wilson's award winning book, it was in this, with her highly entertaining portrayal of the disastrous social worker, Elaine 'the pain' Boyak that Nisha's gift for playing comedy was revealed. 

The show went on to win 5 BAFTAs and become one of the most popular children's programmes ever made. Still running sixteen years later, Nisha appears in most of the episodes.

In 2002, the opportunity came for Nisha to work with one of her most admired directors, Jim Sheridan, when he cast her in his semi autobiographical film, In America. Shot in Dublin and New York, the film was nominated for 3 Oscars.

In yet another controversional film in 2003, Nisha played Olivia in The Principles of Lust. Directed by Penny Woolcock, the film was nominated for the British Independent Film award.

In 2004, Nisha was cast as love sick case worker, Joyce in Rose and Maloney, an ITV production which was shot as three, self contained, two hour films.



Co-starring with two of her favourite actors, Phil Davis and Sarah Lancashire, she also reprised the role in 2005 when the show was re-commissioned.

2005 also saw the BBC rebirth of Doctor Who and Nisha appeared as the feisty female programmer who lost her life trying to save the world from the daleks.

She starred in two episodes directed by Joe Ahearne, entitled Bad Wolf and The Parting of the Ways.

"It was so exciting to be part of such an imaginary world and of course, to be able to look inside the tardis".

Another much welcomed come back was the multi award winning Cracker in 2006.

Written by one of Britain's finest, Jimmy McGovern and directed by award winning, Antonia Bird, Nisha starred as no nonsense detective, Saffron Saleh, alongside Robbie Coltrane and Rafe Spall.

Cracker was nominated for the best television feature in 2007.

With guest lead turns in UK favourites, The Bill and Casualty, 2010 also saw a return to the stage for Nisha in the Sheffield Crucible's critically acclaimed production of Sisters.

Written by Stephanie Street and directed by Ruth Carney, her versitility was highlighted as Nisha portrayed four completely different characters, Shirin, Amina, Husna and Jameela.

Relishing the challenge, she "loved every second of having the luxury of rehearsals, intellgent and interesting material to work with and the thrill of playing live".

Directed by Graham Linehan and playing alongside Steve Delaney and Rory Kinnear, she returned to comedy in 2013 as a character named Ghita in Count Arthur Strong.

In 2014, directed by Jill Robertson, Nisha played feisty lawyer, Namita Cresswell, in ITV's Law & Order: UK.

Back on the London stage between 2014 and 2015, Nisha had a blast playing two characters, Lata and Alison, in Hope, written by Jack Thorne and directed by John Tiffany at the prestigious Royal Court Theatre.

She was busy in 2015, filming on Ian Bonhôte's debut feature film, Alleycats, with Eleanor Tomlinson, and in 2016, playing Professor Nasira Khan in ITV's three-part drama, Midwinter of the Spirit, alongside Anna Maxwell Martin and David Threlfall and on UK18, a british feature film, directed by Andrew Tiernan.

Most recently, Nisha has been filming a semi-regular part on Doctors for the BBC and has just wrapped on André Chocron's latest film, Chronos.

Nisha likes to spend her free time swimming a mile a day and cooking 'experimental' meals for her family and friends. She actively supports Oxfam and the NSPCC and appears to be as enamoured with acting as she ever was.

"I feel really fortunate to have worked with some amazing people and played some wonderful parts and hope that I am lucky enough to continue to do so".

© Copyright Martin Murphy.