ACTRESS Gugu Mbatha-Raw has joined her 'idols' Dame Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith in becoming an Oxford Playhouse patron.

Ms Mbatha-Raw, 35, was born in Oxford and grew up in Witney, attending the Henry Box School.

She first starred at the playhouse aged 11 as a member of the National Youth Theatre, after becoming interested in the theatre at a young age.

The actress is best known for her role in Black Mirror but has also appeared in Doctor Who and last year's film adaptation of Beauty and the Beast.

Ms Mbatha-Raw, who was announced as a playhouse patron as part of the theatre's 80th anniversary celebrations, paid tribute to the theatre on Instagram.

She said: "I first set foot on the Playhouse stage aged 11.

"Those joyous panto and youth theatre experiences were such an influential part of my journey.

"The theatre is where I first found my tribe.

"It is such an honour to join my dame idols Judi Dench and Maggie Smith as Patron of the Oxford Playhouse in its 80th year!"

The Black Mirror star becomes only the 11th playhouse patron and joins other household names such as Michael Palin and Rowan Atkinson.

She will feature in the theatre's 80th anniversary gala performance on Sunday October 21.