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Who is Stay Close's Poppy Gilbert? Actress plays Barbie, but not the doll

Yasmine Leung January 5, 2022
Netflix Media Center

Stay Close is Netflix’s latest major series, featuring newcomer Poppy Gilbert as Barbie and Hyoie O’Grady as her Ken. They play a musical theatre couple, but they’re definitely not as harmless as the dolls.

Netflix’s fascinating thriller Stay Close premiered on 31 December 2021 and fans have been binge-watching the show to uncover the identity of the serial killer in DS Michael Broome’s cold case.

Based on the 2012 novel of the same name by Harlan Coben, the eight-part series stars Cush Jumbo, James Nesbitt, Richard Armitage and Sarah Parish, who find themselves connected by an eerie death.

Poppy Gilbert plays the role of Barbie alongside Hyoie O’Grady as Ken, which viewers have dubbed creepily brilliant.

Spin-off show anyone?

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Meet Poppy Gilbert

Gilbert is a relatively new face, having appeared in only five productions, so we’ve got you covered.

Born on 14 September 1998 in London to Camilla and Nigel Gilbert, the British actress is 23 years old. She also has a sister, Darcy.

She graduated from the Guildhall School of Music & Drama in 2019, where she participated in several plays and musicals, including Oklahoma! That’s right, she can sing as well as act.

Before Stay Close, you may have seen her as Lesley Pike in season 9 of Call The Midwife – her first on-screen job.

She then played Thomasina Tuckerton in Agatha Christie’s The Pale Horse in 2020 and Kelly Kirk-Lees in Midsomer Murders.

The actress’ biggest roles to date have been in Stay Close and Leonardo, a series recounting Leonard da Vinci’s life starring Aiden Turner.

You’ll see her next as the titular Chloe in BBC and Amazon Prime’s upcoming thriller, set to be released in 2022.

Keep up to date with Gilbert on Insta

The 23-year-old has about 3,000 followers on her Instagram page but after Stay Close her supporters are definitely going to sky-rocket.

Since her professional career only began in 2020, her profile is filled with glimpses of everyday life prior to fame.

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Check out the documentary about Barbie and Ken

There is a real-life horror story connected to the names Ken and Barbie. Active during the 1990s in Canada, Paul Bernardo and his wife Karla Homolka were dubbed the “Ken and Barbie killers“.

You can find out more about the disturbing case in Discovery+ documentary Ken and Barbie Killers: The Lost Murder Tapes.

The Stay Close characters aren’t based on a real-life killer couple, but some fans claim to have identified similarities. However, author Harlan Coben actually revealed to Radio Times the inspiration behind his bizarre characters:

“At half-time in NFL football games in the 70s and 80s there used to be group called Up With People, who would perform this really wholesome act,” he explained.

“They would sing all these Kumbaya-type songs and they had these fake painted smiles on. I’m sitting there going, ‘There’s got to be more behind those fake painted smiles.’ So I decided, wouldn’t it be cool if two of them were kind of psychotic killers?”

That sounds terrifying already.


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Yasmine is a third-year Anthropology and Media student at Goldsmiths University with a new obsession with League of Legends, despite being really bad. She's always on social media keeping on top of the latest news and trends and is HITC’s expert in Korean pop culture. She also loves music, TV and fashion - her favourite things to write about.