Skip to main content

‘Ted Lasso’ Keeps Reminding Me of Hannah Waddingham’s Other Iconic Role

A picture of Hannah Waddingham as Septa Unella in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones has an abundance of characters. Even though cuts were made from George R.R. Martin’s original cast—which is expected when adapting a book filled with weird, similar-sounding names—the series had a massive cast.

And thanks to an explosive combo of acting skills mixed with the incredible power of the internet, some of those characters have become iconic even when spending a very short time on our screens. Yes, of course, we all know and love—or love to hate—Daenerys and Tyrion and Jon and Cersei.

But the fact that, say, Pedro Pascal’s Oberyn Martell was in the show for a grand total of four episodes does not make him any less iconic. Oberyn, I miss you immensely but I’m so glad you left before the Dorne plot collapsed into a garbage fire of nothing.

Pedro Pascal as Oberyn Martell in 'Game of Thrones'
I know we’re not talking about him I just wanted to see his face. I think about him every day (HBO)

The same goes for even smaller roles—like the septa who accompanied Cersei throughout her season 5 walk of atonement. The memes solidified her in our collective memories, and now that Ted Lasso is airing its (likely) final season, I can’t help but think of her very often. And that’s because of the actress who portrays her.

So who played the shame nun in Game of Thrones?

As you’re in the middle of a Ted Lasso episode, it might be hard to reconcile Rebecca Walton’s stylish football club owner image to that of the pious and austere Septa Unella, but the person who brings them both to life is the one and only Hannah Waddingham. I will admit that every time she appears on screen in Ted Lasso I imagine her following Ted around with her shame bell and the image is extremely entertaining to me.

The role of Septa Unella might not have been a massive one, but it certainly was important in the context of season 5, which saw the Faith Militant gain power in King’s Landing around the charismatic figure of the High Sparrow in a colossal backfire for Cersei. You should always be careful when you’re giving power to religious extremists so that you can get rid of your political enemies, especially if you happen to have had three children born of incest waiting for you at home.

Septa Unella might be, according to A Song of Ice and Fire book canon, one of the Most Devout—a council of the highest ranking members of the clergy of the Faith of the Seven, even though it’s still somewhat unclear whether access is limited to the male members of the Faith or if women are also allowed in. 

Margaery Tyrell (Natalie Dormer) and Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham) in 'Game of Thrones'
We all remember her from Cersei’s walk, but Unella was there during Margaery’s arrest, too (HBO)

What’s certain is that she first appears when Margaery Tyrell is arrested, and follows her throughout her time in prison and after—as we see when she stands watch over Margaery’s last conversation with her grandmother, Olenna Tyrell. “Can it move or talk?” asks Olenna of Unella, a perfect description of the septa’s unshakeable demeanor.

As soon as accusations of adultery and incest reach Cersei, Unella becomes one of the women who regularly visits, asking Cersei to confess her sins. And once Cersei does confess, it’s Unella who rings the bell throughout the Queen’s walk of atonement through the streets of the capital. 

It’s something that Cersei remembers very well because if there’s one thing that woman is good at is remembering every single person who wronged her and plotting her revenge to be the cruellest and bloodiest possible. That’s certainly what happens to Unella.

In season 6, Cersei spectacularly blows up the Great Sept of Baelor using wildfire to avoid appearing before the High Sparrow and other members of the Faith for her trial. They all die in the explosion, and so do Margaery and Loras Tyrell, as well as their father. 

Then Cersei visits a captured Unella in the dungeons of the Red Keep—which isn’t exactly the best place to be when in Westeros—and confesses everything about her incestuous relationship with Jaime to the helpless septa, and then leaves her alone with the by-now zombified Gregor Clegane. All we hear are Unella’s screams, and we’re definitely better off for it because I did not want to see whatever it was that the Mountain did to her.

Cersei (Lena Headey) smirks as she walks away, leaving Septa Unella (Hannah Waddingham) in the hands of Ser Gregor Clegane
The way she tells her “This is your god now”? Cersei was so unhinged, what a brilliant character (HBO)

Of course, we all know these pyrotechnics on Cersei’s part end up causing the suicide of her last living child, Tommen, after both Joffrey and Myrcella were poisoned—him at the Purple Wedding and her by Ellaria Sand in Dorne. And it’s because of that that Cersei finishes the season being crowned Queen Regent of the Seven Kingdoms.

(featured image: HBO)

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue:

Benedetta (she/her) lives in Italy and has been writing about pop culture and entertainment since 2015. She has considered being in fandom a defining character trait since she was in middle school and wasn't old enough to read the fanfiction she was definitely reading and loves dragons, complex magic systems, unhinged female characters, tragic villains and good queer representation. You’ll find her covering everything genre fiction, especially if it’s fantasy-adjacent and even more especially if it’s about ASOIAF. In this Bangtan Sonyeondan sh*t for life.