Colman was born in Norwich, Norfolk, to a nurse mother and a chartered surveyor father.
She was educated at two independent schools, Norwich High School for Girls in Norwich and Gresham’s School in Holt.
Her first role was Jean Brodie in a school production of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie at age 16. She then realised acting was what she wanted to do.
Colman went on to spend a term studying primary teaching at Homerton College, Cambridge. During this time, at the age of 20, she auditioned for the Cambridge University Footlights Dramatic Club and first met future Peep Show co-stars David Mitchell and Robert Webb.
Olivia has won a Golden Globe and has starred in The Iron Lady, Broadchurch, The Night Manager and Marion in Thomas the Tank Engine.