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John Simm

John Simm
Simm at the European premiere of The Dark Knight in 2008
Born (1970-07-10) 10 July 1970
Occupation Actor
Years active 1992–present
Spouse(s) Kate Magowan
Children 2

John Ronald Simm (born 10 July 1970) is an English actor. He has starred in many television dramas, including Life on Mars, Cracker, The Lakes, Sex Traffic, State of Play, Crime and Punishment, Exile and Prey. He has been nominated twice for the BAFTA Award for Best Actor. An accomplished stage actor, he is a Laurence Olivier Award nominee. His films incude Wonderland, Human Traffic, and 24 Hour Party People. In 2010, he played Hamlet at the Crucible Theatre.


  • Early life 1
  • Career 2
  • Personal life 3
  • Filmography 4
    • Film 4.1
    • Television 4.2
    • Stage 4.3
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Early life

The eldest of three children, Simm grew up in a series of places around North West England, including Blackpool, Burnley, Colne, and Manchester. His father, Ronald, was a musician; and, from the age of twelve, John sang and played guitar with his father on stage in the working men's clubs.

In 1986, Simm enrolled at Blackpool and the Fylde College in Lytham St. Annes for three years, and starred in Guys and Dolls and West Side Story at Blackpool's Grand Theatre. However, he soon decided that musical theatre didn't interest him, so he joined an amateur dramatic group and honed his skills in his spare time, playing the title roles in Billy Liar and Amadeus. He then moved to London to train at the Drama Centre London at the age of 19, where he studied Stanislavski's system of method acting and graduated in 1992.


Independently of his acting, throughout the 1990s, Simm was a founding member, songwriter, and guitarist with the rock band Magic Alex[1] (named after the Beatles self-styled electronics wizard "Magic Alex" Mardas). The group played support on two British tours with Echo & the Bunnymen. Simm plays guitar on the album Slideling by his friend, Echo & the Bunnymen singer Ian McCulloch. Simm also played lead guitar on a few of McCulloch's solo live shows, including one at Wembley Arena as the main support to Coldplay. Magic Alex released one album, Dated and Sexist, before splitting in 2005.

Simm made his professional acting debut in 1992 with the role of Joby Johnson in an episode of the TV series Rumpole of the Bailey (there had been an earlier part in the BBC drama Between the Lines where Simm was in one scene as PC Witty, but the scene was cut). There then followed a variety of roles during which time he honed his craft in front of the camera, including a psycho in The Bill, a lovestruck schoolboy in Heartbeat, and a drugged-up burglar in The Locksmith. He also made two series of the BBC sitcom Men of the World, playing the lead role of Kendle Bains. His next project saw him take the role of Gary Kingston, a deluded murderer, in Chiller.

In 1995, Simm played the troubled teenager Bill Preece in the acclaimed ITV police drama Cracker.[2] This is considered his breakthrough role. He also made his feature film debut in Boston Kickout, beating Dennis Hopper for the Best Actor award at the Valencia Film Festival. In 1996, he made his professional stage debut in the Simon Bent play Goldhawk Road at the Bush Theatre, directed by Paul Miller. In 1997, he won the lead role of Danny Kavanagh in the first series of The Lakes, a BBC series written by Jimmy McGovern. In 1999, he starred in the second series of The Lakes as well as appearing as Jip in the award-winning cult clubbing film Human Traffic and Michael Winterbottom's acclaimed Wonderland. In 2000, he starred in the opening episode of the BBC drama Clocking Off, written by Paul Abbott, with whom he would work again in 2002 when he starred as Cal McCaffrey in the multi-award-winning political thriller series State of Play. Simm also played the lead role of loan shark John Parlour in Tony Marchant's Never Never for Channel 4.

In 2002, Simm featured in another Michael Winterbottom film, 24 Hour Party People, as New Order frontman Bernard Sumner. At a live concert in Finsbury Park that same year, Simm sang the Joy Division song "Digital" onstage with New Order. It was also this year that he played Raskolnikov in the BBC adaptation of Crime and Punishment, adapted by Tony Marchant. Marchant also wrote The Knight's Tale, one of a series of modern reworkings of The Canterbury Tales, in which Simm played Ace. Later that year, Simm starred opposite Christina Ricci and John Hurt in the film Miranda.

In 2004, he played the researcher and charity investigator Daniel Appleton in the BAFTA award-winning Channel 4 drama Sex Traffic. This two-parter followed the plight of two young Moldovan sisters sold into sexual slavery. After playing Dr. Bruce Flaherty in Howard Davies' production of Joe Penhall's Blue/Orange, Simm starred as Detective Inspector Sam Tyler in the 2006 BBC series Life on Mars, playing a police officer sent back in time to 1973. The show won the Pioneer Audience Award for Best Programme at the 2007 BAFTA TV Awards, Simm was nominated but lost out on the award for Best Actor.[3] He left after the second series, feeling that he had taken the role as far as he could.

His next project, in March 2007, was The Yellow House for Channel 4, a biographical drama produced by Talkback Thames, based on the book of the same name by Martin Gayford about the turbulent relationship of artists Vincent van Gogh (Simm) and Paul Gauguin (John Lynch).[4] In the same year, Simm also returned to the theatre as the title character in Paul Miller's acclaimed Bush Theatre staging of Simon Bent's version of Elling, a comedy about two men just out of a psychiatric hospital adjusting to normal life and to each other. Following positive press reviews and an extended, sell-out run, the production was transferred to the Trafalgar Studios 1 in July 2007[5] and Simm was nominated for an Olivier Award for his performance.

In 2007, Simm was chosen by Russell T. Davies to play The Master, the nemesis of The Doctor in the long-running BBC series Doctor Who. He appeared in the final three episodes of series three: "Utopia", "The Sound of Drums", and "Last of the Time Lords". He reprised the role in the 2009 two-part special The End of Time.[6][7] In 2008, Simm played Edward Sexby in The Devil's Whore, a four-part English Civil War epic for Channel 4. He performed at the Royal Variety Performance with Alexander Armstrong and Ben Miller, and starred in the film Skellig, broadcast on Sky1 in April 2009.

Simm became involved in an ongoing project with director Michael Winterbottom called Everyday, to be filmed in real time over five years. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in September 2012, and is in competition at the 2013 London Film Festival. Simm returned to the west end stage in autumn of 2009 to critical acclaim, starring in the Andrew Bovell play Speaking in Tongues at the Duke of York's Theatre. In September 2010, Simm played Hamlet at the Sheffield Crucible.[8] The production was a sellout and broke box office records for the theatre.

In 2011, Simm starred in Mad Dogs on Sky1. Simm plays Baxter in a project that reunited him with Philip Glenister and Marc Warren along with Max Beesley and Ben Chaplin. Mad Dogs became a critical and ratings success and received a BAFTA nomination for best drama serial, and a second and third series were commissioned. Mad Dogs 2 was shot in Mallorca and Ibiza in late 2011, and appeared on Sky 1 in January 2012, the same time as Mad Dogs 3 was being shot in South Africa. On BBC One in May 2011, Simm starred as Tom Rondstadt in Exile. His performance earned him his second BAFTA nomination for best actor.

From 17 May to 9 June 2012, Simm starred as Jerry[9] in a revival of Harold Pinter's Betrayal at the Crucible Theatre.[10] He plays John Middleton in The Village, a 6-part BBC drama which portrays life in a Derbyshire village during World War I.[11] From May to August 2013, he returned to Trafalgar Studios in London's West End to star in a new production of Harold Pinter's The Hothouse, directed by Jamie Lloyd. The final instalment of Mad Dogs aired in January 2014, and Simm completed work on the three-part thriller Prey, in which he plays detective Marcus Farrow. The mini-series began airing on 28 April 2014 on ITV.

In February 2014, Simm began filming the BBC America eight-parter Intruders in Vancouver. He plays ex-LAPD officer Jack Whelan. The series aired on BBC America in August 2014. In addition to this, he completed the second season of The Village in Derbyshire. Later that year Simm played Alec Jeffries, the man who discovered DNA fingerprinting, in Code of a Killer, a 2 part drama for ITV.

In 2015, he took a break from the screen to concentrate on Theatre. He appeared for the first time at The National Theatre, Playing the role of 'Rakitin" to great acclaim, in Patrick Marber's Three days in the Country, (a version of Turgenev's A Month in the country), And was reunited with Jamie Lloyd for the 50th anniversary production of Harold Pinter's The Homecoming in London's West End.

Personal life

In April 2004, Simm married actress Kate Magowan in the Forest of Dean; they have a son and a daughter.[12] He is a supporter of Manchester United.[13]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Boston Kickout Phil
1999 Human Traffic Jip
1999 Wonderland Eddie
2000 Forgive and Forget Theo Television film
2001 Understanding Jane Oz
2002 24 Hour Party People Bernard
2002 Miranda Frank
2002 Crime & Punishment Raskolnikov Television film
2004 Nero Caligula
2005 Blue/Orange Dr. Bruce Flaherty
2008 Tu£sday Silver
2009 Skellig Dave Television film
2012 Everyday Ian Filmed in real-time over five years


Year Title Role Notes
1992 Rumpole of the Bailey Joby Jonson Episode: "Rumpole and the Reform of Joby Jonson"
1993 Oasis Posh Robert 7 episodes
1993 Heartbeat Richard Francis Episode: "Wall of Silence"
1993 The Bill Paul Jeffries Episode: "Blind Spot"
1993 Men of the World Kendle Bains Series 1–2
1994 A Pinch of Snuff Clint Heppelwhite
1994 Meat Cecil
1995 Chiller Gary Kingston Episode: "Here Comes the Mirror Man"
1995 Cracker Bill Nash Episode: "Best Boys"
1997 The Locksmith[14] Paul
1997–1999 The Lakes Danny Kavanagh Series 1–2
2000 Forgive and Forget Theo
2000 Clocking Off Stuart Leach Episode: "The Leaches' Story"
2000 Meet Ricky Gervais Himself Episode 6
2000 Never Never John Parlour
2001 Spaced Stephen Edwards Episode: "Back"
2002 Magic Hour Alex
2002 White Teeth Mr. Hero Cameo
2003 State of Play Cal McCaffrey 6 episodes
2003 The Canterbury Tales Ace The Knight's Tale
2004 The All Star Comedy Show Various characters
2004 London Friedrich Engels
2004 Sex Traffic Daniel Appleton
2006–2007 Life on Mars Sam Tyler Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor
2007 The Yellow House Vincent van Gogh
2007, 2009–2010 Doctor Who The Master 5 episodes
2008 The Devil's Whore Edward Sexby
2010 Moving On Moose / Mike Episode: "Malaise"
2011 Exile Tom Ronstadt Nominated – BAFTA Award for Best Actor
2011–2013 Mad Dogs Baxter 14 episodes
2013–2014 The Village John Middleton 12 episodes
2014 Prey DS Marcus Farrow Royal Television Society North West Award for "Best Male Performance"
2014 Intruders Jack Whelan 8 episodes
2015 Code of a Killer Alec Jeffreys 2 episodes


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Goldhawk Road Colin Bush Theatre
2007 Elling Elling Bush Theatre
Trafalgar Studios 1
2009 Speaking in Tongues Leon[15] Duke of York's Theatre
2010 Hamlet Hamlet[16] Crucible Theatre
2012 Betrayal Jerry[9] Crucible Theatre
2013 The Hothouse Gibbs Trafalgar Studios
2015 Three Days in the Country Rakitin National Theatre, London (Lyttelton auditorium)


  1. ^ "John Simm: Clocks and robbers".  
  2. ^ "Best Boys" at the Internet Movie Database
  3. ^ "Victoria Wood scoops Bafta double".  
  4. ^ "Talkback Thames news release".  
  5. ^ "John Simm: The time of his life". London:  
  6. ^ Lewinski, John Scott (4 April 2009). "Simm Returns as The Master in Doctor Who".  
  7. ^ Colville, Robert (11 April 2009). "Russell T Davies Doctor Who interview: full transcript".  
  8. ^ John Simm on playing Hamlet Daily Telegraph , 14 September 2010
  9. ^ a b Made Media Ltd (9 June 2012). "Betrayal at Sheffield Theatres". Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  10. ^ "London Theatre News, Reviews, Interviews and more". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 22 March 2014. 
  11. ^ Press Pack"The Village", BBC Press Office, 19 March 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2013.
  12. ^ Life On Mars star John Simm takes the stage to be near his children
  13. ^ star sits down to reveal his Red credentials, recall bygone eras and cast his vote for United's Player of the Year award...Mad DogsThe
  14. ^ Heritage, Stuart (12 November 2014). "Warren Clarke: A Life in Clips". Retrieved 5 January 2015. 
  15. ^ "Speaking in Tongues, Duke of York's Theatre, London", The Independent
  16. ^ [2], The Independent 23 September 2010. Retrieved on 27 September 2010.

External links

Preceded by
Derek Jacobi
The Master actor
from Doctor Who

2007 - 2010
Succeeded by
Michelle Gomez
as The Mistress
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