Nabil Shaban

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Nabil Shaban
Nabil Shaban.jpg
Born (1953-02-12) 12 February 1953 (age 68)
Amman, Jordan
OccupationActor, writer
Marcela Krystkova
(m. 2016)

Nabil Shaban (born 12 February 1953[1]) is a Jordanian-British actor and writer. He co-founded Graeae—a theatre group which promotes performers with disabilities.[2]

Early years and career[edit]

Shaban was born in Amman, Jordan, with brittle bone disease osteogenesis imperfecta.[3] He was sent to England for medical care, where he grew up in a series of hospitals and residential homes.[4] He studied at the University of Surrey in the late 1970s and contributed to the Students' Union newspaper "Bare Facts". In 1997, Shaban was awarded an Honorary Doctorate by the university for services in the promotion of Disability Arts.

One of his most memorable television roles was that of the reptilian alien Sil in the BBC science fiction television series Doctor Who.[5] Shaban played Sil in two serials: Vengeance on Varos (1985) and Mindwarp (1986), and created Sil's laugh. He reprised the role in the Big Finish audio dramas Mission to Magnus (2009) and Antidote to Oblivion (2013), both again written by Philip Martin.

He has appeared in several films, including Born of Fire (1983), City of Joy (1992), Derek Jarman's Wittgenstein (1993), Gaias børn (1998), and Children of Men (2006), and has also worked as part of the Crass Collective.[6] In 2011, he played the Roman emperor Constantius II at the National Theatre in Ibsen's Emperor and Galilean.[7]

In 2003 he made a TV documentary titled The Strangest Viking (part of Channel 4's Secret History series), in which Shaban explored the possibility that Viking chieftain Ivar the Boneless may have had osteogenesis imperfecta, the same condition he himself has.[8] Shaban has also published a trilogy of Ivar the Boneless screenplays on Kindle, representing the Viking chieftain as a disabled Danish prince with brittle bones and unable to walk.

Shaban was nominated Best Actor in Scottish theatre in 2005, by the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland (CATS), for his role as Mack the Knife in Bertolt Brecht's Threepenny Opera, a Theatre Workshop (Edinburgh) production.[9] Shaban lost out to rival nominee David Tennant, who was about to become the new Doctor Who.

Shaban's play The First To Go premièred in May 2008, produced by Edinburgh's Benchtours Theatre Company in association with Sirius Pictures. It opened at the Lyceum Theatre in Edinburgh on 23 May and toured to the Tron Theatre, Glasgow; the Byre Theatre, St Andrews and Lawrence Batley Theatre, Huddersfield.[10]



TV documentaries[edit]

  • Co-wrote and presented "The Skin Horse", 1984 Channel Four
  • Co-wrote and presented "The Fifth Gospel", 1990 BBC TV
  • Presented "Rejects and Super Crips", Channel Four
  • Presented "Children of Gaia", 1997, Milton Media, Denmark
  • Writer, producer, director, host "The Alien Who Lived in the Sheds", 1997, BBC TV
  • Associate producer and presenter "The Strangest Viking", 2003, Channel Four
  • Researcher, co-writer and presenter "Return of the Star People", 2003, Zentropa, Denmark.

TV drama[edit]

  • Ben Gunn, "Walter", 1982, Channel Four
  • Sil, Doctor Who, 1985-86, BBC TV
  • Bill, Raspberry Ripple, 1988, BBC TV
  • The Emperor, 1988, BBC TV
  • Charlie aka God, Billy's Christmas Angels, 1988
  • Iranian Nights, 1989, Channel Four
  • Tom, Deptford Graffiti, Channel 4, 1991
  • Alan, Skallagrig, 1994 BBC TV
  • South of the Border BBC TV
  • Inmates, BBC TV
  • Lawyer, Sorry About Last Night, 1995 BBC TV


  • Benn Gunn in "Treasure Island" BBC Radio 4, 1994
  • Jaturi in "The Ramayan" BBC Radio 3, 1994
  • "Pie in the Sky", BBC Radio 4, 1995
  • Firdaus Kanga in "Trying to Grow", BBC Radio 4, 1995
  • Danda in "Tales of the Great Unwashed", 2005, Resonance FM
  • Sil in "Doctor Who: Mission to Magnus”, Big Finish Audio, 2009
  • Sil in “Doctor Who: Antidote to Oblivion”, Big Finish Audio, 2013

Feature films[edit]

  • Born of Fire, 1986
  • City of Joy, 1992
  • Age of Treason, 1993
  • Wittgenstein, 1993
  • Slave of Dreams, 1995
  • Children of Men, 2007
  • Trouble Sleeping, 2008
  • Morticia, 2009
  • Sil and the Devil Seeds of Arodor, 2019


  • Another World (purchased by BBC TV), 1995
  • The Alien who lived in the Sheds, BBC TV, 1997 (won 2 awards)
  • The Skin Horse (won Royal Television Society Award, Emmy Award)
  • Reports Action Appeal, Granada TV (won the Co-operative Society TV Award)
  • Gandhi; an Inspiration, BBC Radio World Service, 1983
  • Telephone Dummies, BBC TV drama, 1984
  • The Fifth Gospel, BBC TV Everyman documentary, 1990
  • King of the Incurables (screenplay), 1990
  • Circus Nightmare (screenplay), 1991
  • Another World, funded by Arts Council of England, 1995
  • D.A.R.E., Theatre Workshop, 1996–97
  • The First To Go, Graeae Theatre, 1996
  • The Inheritance (screenplay), BFI, 1997
  • The Alien who lived in the Sheds, BBC TV, 1997
  • I am the Walrus (one actor stage play), Theatre Workshop, 2001
  • Crip Triptych (music drama documentary), 2006
  • Morticia (film drama), 2009


  1. ^ Profile,; retrieved 1 August 2011.
  2. ^ Miles-Wildin, Nicky. "Disability and... Graeae with Nabil Shaban". Disability Arts Online. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  3. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Shaban, Nabil". Screenonline. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  4. ^ Profile,; retrieved 31 October 2019.
  5. ^ Blair, Andrew. "Doctor Who: 50 noteworthy villains". Den of Geek. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  6. ^ "Then and Now - From the Archive TLS". The TLS. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  7. ^ Taylor, Paul (23 October 2011). "Emperor and Galilean, National Theatre: London". The Independent. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  8. ^ "Short and to the point: Culture; The Guardian". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 June 2021.
  9. ^ Correspondent, A Scotland (16 May 2005). "Scots writers return to form in the theatre awards". The Times. Retrieved 11 June 2021.
  10. ^ Fisher, Mark (2 June 2008). "The First to Go: Theatre". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 June 2021.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]