David Oakes

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David Oakes
ROMY2011 b07 David Oakes.jpg
Born Rowan David Oakes[1]
(1983-10-14) 14 October 1983 (age 34)
Fordingbridge, Hampshire, England
Alma mater Bristol Old Vic Theatre School
University of Manchester
Occupation Actor
Years active 2008–present
Website www.davidoakes.co.uk

Rowan David Oakes (born 14 October 1983) is an English film, television, and theatre actor known for his roles in The Pillars of the Earth, The Borgias, and The White Queen.

Early life and education[edit]

Oakes was born in Fordingbridge,[2] Hampshire, England, the son of a Church of England canon[3] and a professional musician.

Oakes was head boy at Bishop Wordsworth's School, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, where he was also heavily involved with the Salisbury Playhouse and their youth theatre, Stage 65. He graduated with a first in English literature from the University of Manchester.[3]

He attended the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School from 2005 to 2007.[4]


He played the villainous William Hamleigh in the television miniseries The Pillars of the Earth (2010), produced by Ridley Scott's production company.[5] David was present to accept the Jury Prize at the 2011 Romy Awards in Vienna alongside Donald Sutherland and Natalia Wörner.

The following year, Oakes was cast in the television series The Borgias (2011), airing on Showtime.[6] He played Juan Borgia opposite Jeremy Irons. Whilst shooting the second season, David performed a cameo in the sequel to The Pillars of the Earth, World Without End (2012).

Continuing a career on television playing morally dubious characters, Oakes had a role in The White Queen for BBC One and Starz playing George, Duke of Clarence. It was broadcast in mid-2013.

In an attempt to distance himself from his "TV Period Bad Boy" image, in 2013 David played Mr Darcy in an adaptation of Pride and Prejudice at Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park. He said, "I've been playing bad guys back to back, so Darcy's a bit of an antidote!"[7] He followed this by more stage work, appearing in the world premiere of Shakespeare in Love at the Noël Coward Theatre as Christopher Marlowe.

In a return to TV period dramas in 2015, Oakes guest-starred in both the third season of Endeavour with Shaun Evans and in BBC's limited series The Living and the Dead with Colin Morgan.

The role of Prince Ernest, brother of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert, went to Oakes in 2016 in the ITV series Victoria. The role reunited Oakes with his Trinity co-star Tom Hughes, and Pillars of the Earth co-star Rufus Sewell.

Later in 2017, Oakes will be seen in the film adaptation of Albert Sánchez Piñol's novel Cold Skin, directed by Xavier Gens and co-starring Ray Stevenson and Aura Garrido. He will also star as Thomas Novachek in the London West End premiere of David Ives's play Venus in Fur at the Theatre Royal Haymarket. This production is set to be directed by Patrick Marber and stars Natalie Dormer as Vanda.[8]


Year Title Role Director Channel Notes
2008 Bonekickers Alfred, Lord Tennyson Iain B. MacDonald BBC One Episode 6 "Follow the Gleam"
Walter's War Oswald Hennessey Alrick Riley BBC Four
2009 Henry VIII: The Mind of a Tyrant George Cavendish Channel 4 Episode 3 "Lover"
Trinity Ross Bonham Colin Teague ITV2 Episodes 1, 2, 3
2010 The Pillars of the Earth Lord William Hamleigh Sergio Mimica-Gezzan TV miniseries; Appeared in all eight episodes
2011–2012 The Borgias Juan Borgia Neil Jordan, John Maybury, David Leland, John Amiel, Kari Skogland, Jeremy Podeswa et al. Season 1 & 2
2012 World Without End Bishop Henri Michael Caton-Jones Channel 4 Appears as a cameo alongside Charlotte Riley
2013 Ripper Street Victor Silver Andy Wilson Episode 8 What Use Our Work?
The White Queen George, Duke of Clarence James Kent, Jamie Payne and Colin Teague Episodes 1 - 7
2014 Kim Philby: His Most Intimate Betrayal Kim Philby BBC2 Two-part drama documentary by Ben MacIntyre
2015 Endeavour Jocelyn "Joss" Bixby Sandra Goldbacher ITV & Mammoth Productions Season 3: "Ride"
The Living and the Dead William Payne Sam Donovan BBC Episodes 4 - 6
2016–2017 Victoria Ernest II, Duke of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha Tom Vaughan, Sandra Goldbacher, Oliver Blackburn, Lisa James Llarsson, Geoff Saxe, Jim Loach & Daniel O'Hara ITV & Mammoth Productions Season 1 and 2


Year Title Role Producer Notes
2012 Truth or Die Justin Corona Pictures UK release on 6 August 2012; Called "Truth or Dare" in the UK
100Dniowk@ David Potter Agresywna Banda Polish feature film
2013 Love By Design Adrian Solar Junction Romantic comedy with Jane Seymour and Olivia Hallinan
Goblin? Harry Multi Story Film Short film with Holliday Grainger
Who Shall I Play With Now? Gregory Dog Ate Cake UK premiere on 29 June 2013 at the Wimbledon Shorts Festival
2014 Sins of a Father Martin Andrew Piddington A re-shot, re-edited version of the 1991 film Shuttlecock with Alan Bates and Lambert Wilson
2017 Cold Skin Friend Xavier Gens An adaptation of the novel co-starring Ray Stevenson
2018 The Garden of Evening Mists Frederick Tom Lin An adaptation of Tan Twan Eng's Booker Prize winning novel



Year Title Role Theatre Director
2006 Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare Claudio & Verges Royal Shakespeare Company & Bristol Old Vic Theatre School John Hartoch
2007 Love's Labour's Lost by William Shakespeare Dumaine Shakespeare's Globe & International Tour Dominic Dromgoole
We the People (world premiere) by Eric Schlosser Charles Pinckney & Gunning Bedford Jnr Shakespeare's Globe Charlotte Westenra
2008 Old Vic New Voices: The Twenty-four Hour Plays Davide Old Vic Theatre
Journey's End by R. C. Sherriff Raleigh Mercury Theatre, Colchester Tony Casement
Mary Stuart by Friedrich Schiller Mortimer Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh Aida Karic
2009 All The Little Things We Crushed (world premiere) by Joel Horwood Hugh Almeida Theatre, London Simon Godwin
2011 Three Farces ("Slasher and Crasher", "A Most Unwarrantable Intrusion" & "Grimshaw, Bagshaw and Bradshaw") by John Maddison Morton Samson Slasher & John Bagshaw Orange Tree Theatre, London Henry Bell
2013 Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen adapted by Simon Reade Darcy Open Air Theatre, Regent's Park, London Deborah Bruce
2014-2015 Shakespeare in Love (world premiere) by Marc Norman & Tom Stoppard adapted by Lee Hall Christopher Marlowe Noël Coward Theatre, West End, London Declan Donnellan
2015 The Trial of Macbeth by Jonathan Myerson Banquo Noël Coward Theatre, West End, London Christopher Haydon
2017 Venus in Fur (West End premiere) by David Ives Thomas Novachek Theatre Royal Haymarket, West End, London Patrick Marber

Theatre direction[edit]

Oakes has directed a number of theatre pieces alongside his acting career. In 2003 he took a stage adaptation of The Wicker Man to the Epping Forest Theatre Festival. Rehearsing in and around his hometown of Salisbury, Oakes "got kicked out of the [Cathedral] Close for rehearsing pagan rituals for [his] open-air production of The Wicker Man."[16]

At University he directed numerous plays including Martin McDonagh's Beauty Queen of Leenane, Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter and Anthony Minghella's Whale Music.[17]

Also whilst at University in 2005, Oakes assisted director Natalie Wilson on a production of Smilin' Through that was co-produced by the Truant Company, Birmingham Repertory Theatre, and Contact Theatre, Manchester. Later that year, Oakes once again turned to literary adaptation, taking a production of Stephen King's The Boogeyman to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[17]

With his and Bell's theatre company, Dog Ate Cake, in 2009 Oakes directed a small tour revival of John Maddison Morton's Box and Cox.[18]

Oakes frequently directs at Shakespeare's Globe extending their "Read Not Dead" series, a study devoted to performing fully staged readings of the entirety of the Early Modern Canon of Drama. Most recently Oakes directed Robert Greene's The Honourable History of Friar Bacon and Friar Bungay[19] and Lewis Theobald's "Happy Ending" version of John Webster's Duchess of Malfi, "The Fatal Secret".[20]

David recently directed an extract of Robert Daborne's A Christian Turn'd Turk as part of a special "Read Not Dead" event at Shakespeare's Globe. Four directors with four scholars were teamed up with actors and presented their arguments and selected scenes at a special hustings event on Thursday 29 May 2014.

Personal life[edit]

Oakes plays both the clarinet and bass clarinet, and is a strong bass singer.[13]

He is an avid follower of folk music, and continues to support the Bristol folk group Sheelanagig.[2]

He has an extensive collection of canoes and is currently developing a comedy pilot based on this interest. His preferred canoe method is kayak but he also enjoys Canadian canoeing.


Oakes is an avid fine line sketcher. He is increasingly known for sketching on-set animals upon coloured pages of script reissues and giving them to production members.[21] In May 2015 he exhibited as part of the Dulwich Artists Open House Festival[22] alongside artist and designer Sarah Hamilton. He has also contributed a chapter on Charity Cards for Ms Hamilton's book, House of Cards.

Charity work[edit]

David, following his infant niece being diagnosed with a lung condition, has been heavily involved with raising awareness for and fundraising on behalf of the British Lung Foundation.

In 2013, Oakes collaborated with his Borgias castmate Holliday Grainger to make the short comedy film "Goblin". Directed by Christian James, the film was screened at the 2014 Film 4 Fright Fest in their Shorts Showcase,[23] and all profits from the sale of this film were donated to the British Lung Foundation.[24]

Later in 2014, Oakes ran the length of the country to raise awareness for infant lung diseases for both the British Lung Foundation and ChILD Lung Foundation UK.[25] More recently he joined with the BLF to promote their new Children's Hub to provide families with information and support.[26] Alongside this, in 2016, 2017 & 2018 he created the charity's Christmas card.

Since 2014, Oakes has also been a patron of Anno's Africa,[27] an arts-based charity working with Kenyan orphans and slum children, and has supported the UK based Shakespeare Schools Festival, most notably with and surrounding their "Trial of Macbeth".[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Q&A with actor David Oakes". Salisbury Journal. 27 November 2013. Retrieved 29 September 2016. 
  2. ^ a b "Interview for Emma Hartley entitled "Desert Island Folk Discs"". Retrieved 2 Dec 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Interview for 1883 Magazine from 2011". Retrieved 2 Dec 2012. 
  4. ^ "List of graduates from the Bristol Old Vic Theatre School since 1984". Archived from the original on 8 May 2010. Retrieved 5 June 2010. 
  5. ^ Press release (n.d.). "Ian McShane, Donald Sutherland, Rufus Sewell, Matthew Macfadyen, Sarah Parish, Hayley Atwell, Eddie Redmayne and Gordon Pinsent Headline Star-Studded Cast for Screen Adaptation of Ken Follett's Bestselling Masterpiece The Pillars of the Earth". Tandem Communications. Retrieved 4 April 2011. 
  6. ^ Vlessing, Etan (10 June 2010). "David Oakes, Holliday Grainger join 'Borgias'". The Hollywood Reporter. Archived from the original on 13 June 2010. Retrieved 3 July 2010. 
  7. ^ "Brief Encounter with David Oakes". Whats On Stage. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 3 Feb 2017. 
  8. ^ "Natalie Dormer will star in erotically charged West End production of Venus in Fur" by Alistair Foster, The Evening Standard, 12 May 2017
  9. ^ "UK Theatre Database: RSC's Much Ado About Nothing". Retrieved 24 Mar 2013. 
  10. ^ "The 200th Read Not Dead". Retrieved 24 Mar 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Marlowe Society Research Journal - Volume 05 - 2008" (PDF). Retrieved 24 Mar 2013. 
  12. ^ "David Oakes' Spotlight CV". Retrieved 24 Mar 2013. 
  13. ^ a b "Interview for Fault Magazine 2011". Retrieved 2 Dec 2012. 
  14. ^ a b "The Trial of Macbeth: Photos". Retrieved 21 Feb 2016. 
  15. ^ "Guardian - Trial of Macbeth". Retrieved 21 Feb 2016. 
  16. ^ "Interview for Wiltshire Life 2010" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 18 March 2013. Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  17. ^ a b "Theatre Credits Prior To Drama School". Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  18. ^ "Dog Ate Cake". Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  19. ^ "Bacon and Bungay Review". Retrieved 11 June 2013. 
  20. ^ "Globe Read Not Dead 2014". Retrieved 19 January 2014. 
  21. ^ "David Oakes Prints". Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
  22. ^ "Dulwich Open House". Retrieved 3 October 2015. 
  23. ^ "Goblin Film Four Fright Fest Review". Retrieved 25 Jan 2017. 
  24. ^ "BLF Patrons". Retrieved 25 Jan 2017. 
  25. ^ "David Oakes Runs for Charity". Retrieved 25 Jan 2017. 
  26. ^ "Josie was the Strongest". Retrieved 25 Jan 2017. 
  27. ^ "Anno's Africa Patrons". Retrieved 25 Jan 2017. 

External links[edit]