Lancashire-raised John Simm is one of this country’s best loved and most recognisable actors. He is multi-BAFTA nominated and known for his versatility and wide array of TV roles. Most recently he can be seen starring as DSI Roy Grace, the lead detective in ITV’s recurring series ‘Grace’, which will return for a fourth series in 2024.
In 2021 he had a recurring role in the Emmy-winning Britbox/ITVX series ‘Crime’ based on the book by Irvine Welsh and in 2020 he starred as Arthur Fried in the Britbox crime drama series ‘Cold Courage’.
Other major recent roles include playing Labour MP David Mars in the 2018 BBC/Netflix drama series ‘Collateral’, written by David Hare and also starring Carey Mulligan and Billie Piper. In the same year he starred in two ITV dramas; ‘Trauma’ in which he played grieving father Dan Bowker who seeks vengeance against the trauma consultant (played by Adrian Lester) who he blames for his son's death; and ‘Strangers’, starring as Jonah Mulray, a professor whose life comes crashing down when his wife is killed in a car crash. He also had a major role in Shonda Rimes’s comedy drama series ‘The Catch’ for US network ABC, about a female fraud investigator.
One of his most famous roles was playing Doctor Who’s arch-nemesis ‘The Master’ in the third series of Doctor Who in 2007, opposite David Tennant, making a comeback for the 2-part Christmas special in 2009. He returned to the role again in 2017, opposite Peter Capaldi’s 10th Doctor.
In 2011 he starred as Baxter, one of the leads in the hugely successful Sky One drama series ‘Mad Dogs’, about a group of friends who head to Spain for a doomed holiday. The show, which also starred Philip Glenister and Marc Warren, received a BAFTA nomination for Best Serial and returned for three more seasons. Around the same time he was cast as Tom Rondstadt in the BBC One psychological thriller series ‘Exile’, alongside Jim Broadbent and Olivia Colman. The show was praised by critics with the Radio Times writing that it was “as good as TV drama can be” His performance, as a son dealing with his father’s Alzheimers, earned him his second BAFTA nomination for Best Actor.
He is particularly known for starring as time-travelling detective DI Sam Taylor in drama series ‘Life on Mars’ which won the Audience Award at the 2007 BAFTAs, with John receiving a nomination for Best Actor.
In 2004 he starred as Daniel Appleton, a journalist who uncovers a trafficking ring, in the multi-award winning British-Canadian drama series ‘Sex Traffic’ (shown on Channel 4). The show won an incredible 8 BAFTA Awards, including Best Drama Serial. John was nominated for Best Actor in Canada’s Gemini Awards.
His list of TV credits is extensive, with major highlights including; playing John Middleton in ‘The Village’, a 6-part BBC drama set in a Derbyshire village during World War I; playing Alec Jeffreys, the man who discovered DNA fingerprinting, in the 2-part ITV drama ‘Code of a Killer’; and playing Detective Marcus Farrow in the BAFTA nominated 2015 ITV 3-part drama serial ‘Prey’. He also starred as Cal McCaffrey in the multi award-winning 2003 BBC political thriller series ‘State of Play’, opposite Bill Nighy and David Morrissey.
He also has a number of notable film credits including playing Jip in the award-winning cult clubbing film ‘Human Traffic’ (1999), playing New Order frontman Bernard Summer in ‘24 Hour Party People’ (2002) and playing drug smuggler Ian in the Michael Winterbottom directed, BAFTA nominated ‘Everyday’ (2012) which was filmed in real time over five years.
He is a much in-demand stage actor, earning an Olivier Award Best Actor nomination for playing the title role in the Trafalgar Studios West End production of ‘Elling’ in 2007. He starred as an "outstanding" Hamlet in the critically acclaimed 2010 production at the Crucible in Sheffield. He returned to Trafalgar Studios in 2013 in a new production of Harold Pinter's ‘The Hothouse’, directed by Jamie Lloyd. More recently he returned to the West End stage in Jamie Lloyd's staging of ‘Pinter at the Pinter’, a groundbreaking season of Harold Pinter's one-act plays. Following that, in 2019, he played the title role of Macbeth at the Chichester Festival Theatre.
John grew up in Lancashire and has a soft Northern accent. He uses a neutral accent in much of his work.
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