Russell Tovey

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Russell Tovey
Russell Tovey.jpg
Tovey in 2009
Born Russell George Tovey
(1981-11-14) 14 November 1981 (age 35)
Billericay, Essex, England
Occupation Actor
Years active 1994–present

Russell George Tovey (born 14 November 1981)[1] is an English actor with numerous television, film and stage credits. Tovey is best known for playing the role of a werewolf, George Sands in the BBC's supernatural drama Being Human.[2] His other notable roles include Rudge in both the stage and film version of The History Boys, Steve in the BBC Three sitcom Him & Her, Kevin Matheson in the HBO original series Looking and as Henry Knight on BBC TV series Sherlock. He currently appears as a regular in the U.S. hit drama series on the ABC network's Quantico.

Early life[edit]

Tovey is the younger of two children, born to Carole Haynes (formerly Webb) and George Tovey who run a Romford-based coach service taking passengers from Essex to Gatwick Airport. Tovey has an older brother, Daniel.[3] He grew up in Billericay, Essex,[4][5] and he attended Harold Court School in Harold Wood and Shenfield High School.[6] As a boy, Tovey said he "was an avid collector of various things and prone to participating in fads."[5] His parents supported his efforts, taking him to archeological digs and museums, buying him a metal detector, and going to conventions for mineralologists.[5] For a time he wanted to be a history teacher,[5] but after seeing Dead Poets Society, The Goonies, and Stand By Me, he decided to be an actor.[5] For a time during his teens, he worked as a kitchen assistant in Billericay's King's Head pub.


Tovey began his career as a child actor. He joined a local drama club, and garnered the attention of a talent agent.[4] He began acting when he was 11 years old.[5] He worked so steadily and missed so much school that his father suggested his acting career be cut back, but his mother convinced his father to let their son continue.[5] His TV career started in 1994, when he was cast in Mud, a children's series broadcast on CBBC.[4]

He left high school at the age of 16, and started a BTEC in performing arts at Barking College.[6] He was expelled after a year for refusing a role in the school play in favour of a paying acting job.[6] He acted in plays in Chichester under the direction of Debra Gillett, wife of Patrick Marber.[4] He met Marber through Gillett, and Marber cast him in the play Howard Katz at the National Theatre.[4] He also performed in His Girl Friday and His Dark Materials there as well.[4]

In 2004, he took the role of Rudge in Alan Bennett's play The History Boys at the Royal National Theatre as well as touring to Broadway, Sydney, Wellington and Hong Kong and playing the role in the radio and film adaptation.[7][8][9][10] He originally auditioned for the role of Crowther but agreed to act the part of Rudge after Bennett promised to beef up the role.[5] Insecure because he had not attended drama school like many of his peers, he enrolled in numerous workshops and readings offered by the National Theatre.[5]

In spring 2007, Tovey had a recurring role in BBC Three comedy Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive, playing Rob's producer, Ben.[5] He played Midshipman Alonso Frame, in 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special "Voyage of the Damned".[5] Russell T. Davies, the show's executive producer and lead writer, had suggested Tovey as a future replacement for David Tennant,[11] before it was announced that the Eleventh Doctor would be played by Matt Smith. Tovey reprised his role as Midshipman Alonso Frame in the 2009-10 Doctor Who Christmas special, The End of Time.

Tovey played werewolf George Sands, one of three supernatural housemates in the drama Being Human. The pilot premiered on BBC Three on 18 February 2008.[12] A six-part series was commissioned with the first episode broadcast on 25 January 2009.[13] Tovey left the regular cast of the show at the start of the fourth season on 5 February 2012.[14] In November 2012 AudioGO Ltd released an audiobook version of Mark Michalowski's Being Human tie-in novel Chasers, which is narrated by Russell Tovey.[15]

In a 2008 interview in Attitude, Tovey expressed his desire to play darker roles: "really dark, fucked-up characters... like drag queens, rent boys, someone who has been abused, a rapist", though noting that he does not consider himself "fucked-up".[16]

In March 2009, the actor played a leading role in A Miracle at the Royal Court Theatre as Gary Trudgill, a British soldier returning to Norfolk from abroad.[17][18] On 8 March 2009 he presented the Award for Best Actress to Margaret Tyzack for her performance in The Chalk Garden at the Laurence Olivier Awards in Grosvenor House.[19][20]

In 2009, Tovey worked on the film Huge[21] and starred in two television pilots: Young, Unemployed and Lazy (a BBC Three sitcom),[22][23] renamed to Him & Her[24] in 2010, and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret (part of Comedy Showcase), a Channel 4 comedy with Spike Jonze and Will Arnett, written by David Cross and Shaun Pye.[25][26]

He also appeared in three shorts: Drop[27][28] (which premièred at the 2009 Rushes Soho Shorts Film Festival), Roar,[29] and In Passing.[30] Roar premiered at the Palm Springs Film Festival on 24 June 2009.[31]

In 2011, he became the voice over/narrator for the BBC Three show Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents which, as of 8 January 2013, is currently in its third series. Tovey has narrated every episode aired.

Tovey played Budgie, one of Gavin's friends, in the BBC comedy-drama Gavin & Stacey. In January 2012, he appeared in the British crime drama Sherlock, playing Henry Knight in the episode The Hounds of Baskerville. He had a lead role in the ITV sitcom The Job Lot which aired in 2013 and is set in a busy unemployment bureau in the West Midlands.[32]

In 2013, Tovey signed on to appear in the American television series Looking, about a group of gay friends living in San Francisco. Its 8-episode first season broadcast on HBO in 2014. Tovey was promoted to series regular for the second season.

In 2015, Tovey starred in Banished, a historical drama series written by Jimmy McGovern about a group of British convicts in Australia in the 18th century.[33]

In 2016, Tovey was cast in the U.S. ABC network thriller drama Quantico for the series regular role of Harry Doyle.[34] Tovey debuted as Doyle in the second-season (series) premiere on September 25, 2016. Harry does not make a good first impression--a first-year Brit dropped in with a group of "second-years," carrying ego and arrogance to the extreme. At the same time, he exudes an air of mystery, seemingly having plenty of professional secrets and a couple of personal ones as well. Meanwhile, last season's newbies at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) headquarters in Quantico, Virginia, just outside the U.S. capital of Washington, D.C., have moved on. Several of the second-years have been placed in real-life situations, and some are also working with the international Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). While Harry is finally able to partially let his professional guard down to a couple of close teammates, his personal secrets remain hidden. As with last season, the plot involves one year flashforwards and flashbacks, with events gradually merging to that single future event. Last spring's 13-episode, midseason-replacement first season ended with a cliffhanger. ABC appears to be bullish on Quantico, renewing the series with a full 22-episode order (which means in normal situations, the Season 2 finale would be in May 2017), and moved the show to the plum timeslot of Sunday nights at 10 p.m. (ET/PT). Will Harry Doyle be part of the cause of this future-year calamity, or might he help save it?


Tovey is also an author, playwright and screenwriter. He has written three plays (all unperformed as of August 2010), and one of his short stories was published in women's magazine Company.[3] He also wrote a short film, Victor, and as of August 2010 was seeking funding to produce the picture.[3]

Personal life[edit]

During his adolescent years, Tovey's homosexuality caused friction within his family.[16] Although he says he came out to himself when he was 15 or 16, he properly came out to his parents when he was 18.[5] Tovey and his father subsequently had a falling out, with his father suggesting that, had he known earlier, he would have asked Tovey to take hormones or undergo some other medical treatment to "fix the problem".[5] Tovey says his parents were deeply concerned about the possibility he might contract HIV, which may have contributed to the falling out.[5] The birth of Tovey's nephew in October 2004 helped them mend their relationship.[5]

Selected credits[edit]


Year Title Character
2001 The Emperor's New Clothes Recruit
2006 The History Boys Rudge
2009 Drop Ben
Roar Tom
In Passing Henry
2012 Grabbers Smith
The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists The Albino Pirate (voice)
Tower Block Paul
2013 Effie George
2014 Muppets Most Wanted Champagne deliveryman
Pride Tim
Moomins on the Riviera Moomintroll
2015 The Lady in the Van Young Man with Earring
2016 Night of the Lotus Charlie
2016 The Pass Jason


Year Programme Character Notes
1996 Spywatch Dennis Sealy Series regular
1998 The Mrs Bradley Mysteries Stable Boy Episode: Speedy Death (pilot)
2000 Hope and Glory Gary Bailey Episode: 2.2
2001 Agatha Christie's Poirot Lionel Marshall Episode: "Evil Under the Sun"
2001 The Bill Tyro Shaw Episodes: "Complicity" Parts 1 & 2
2002 Ultimate Force Weasel Episode: "The Killing House"
2002 Silent Witness Josh Palmer Episode: "Kith and Kill" Parts 1 & 2
2005 Messiah IV: The Harrowing Robbie McManus
2005 My Family and Other Animals Leslie Durrell
2007 - 2009 Gavin & Stacey Budgie Episodes: 1.5, 1.6, 2.6 and 3.3
2007 Annually Retentive Ben 5 episodes
2007 Doctor Who Midshipman Alonso Frame Episode: "Voyage of the Damned"
2008 - 2012 Being Human George Sands Series regular
2008 Ashes to Ashes Marcus Johnstone Episode: "The Smoking Gun"
2008 Mutual Friends Estate agent Episode: 1.5
2008 Little Dorrit John Chivery Episodes: 1 to 8, 12, 14
2009 Agatha Christie's Marple PC Terence Reed Episode: "Murder Is Easy"
2009 The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret Dave Comedy Showcase pilot (27 November 2009)
2009 Never Mind the Buzzcocks As guest Episode: 23.10 (2 December 2009)
2010 Doctor Who Midshipman Alonso Frame Episode: "The End of Time"
2010 - 2013 Him & Her Steve Series regular
2010 - 2011 Doctor Who Confidential Himself Narrator (voice only)
2011–present Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents Himself Narrator (voice only)
2012 Sherlock Henry Knight Episode 2.2: "The Hounds of Baskerville"
2012 Just a Minute Himself Panellist
2013 The Dog Rescuers Himself, Narrator Series 1 (10 episodes)
2013 What Remains Michael Jenson
2013 - present The Job Lot Karl Series regular
2014 - 2015 Looking Kevin Matheson Recurring (season 1), series regular (season 2)
2015 Banished James Freeman Series regular
2016 Red Top (The Comic Strip Presents...) Andy Coulson
2016 The Night Manager Simon Ogilvey
2016 Quantico Harry Doyle Series regular (season 2)


Year Play Character Theatre Location
2000 The Recruiting Officer Chichester Festival Theatre Chichester
2001 Howard Katz[35] Cottesloe Theatre, Royal National Theatre London
2002 Plasticine[36] Spira
Boy Having Sex
Royal Court Theatre London
2003 Henry V[37] Boy Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre London
His Girl Friday[38] Ralph Sweeney Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre London
2003–04 His Dark Materials[39] Roger Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre London
2004–06 The History Boys Rudge Lyttleton Theatre, Royal National Theatre London
2005 The Laramie Project Sound Theatre London
2005–06 Hergé's Adventures of Tintin (aka Tintin in Tibet)[40] Tintin Barbican Arts Centre London
2006 The History Boys Rudge Lyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts Hong Kong
St James Wellington
Sydney Theatre Sydney
Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway New York
2007 A Respectable Wedding[41] Groom Young Vic London
2008 The Sea[42] Billy Hallercut Theatre Royal Haymarket London
2009 A Miracle[18] Gary Trudgill Royal Court Theatre London
2012 Sex With a Stranger Adam Trafalgar Studios London
2014 The Pass Jason Royal Court Theatre London
2015 A View from the Bridge Rodolpho Lyceum Theatre New York [43]
2017 Angels in America Joe Pitt Lyttelton Theatre, Royal National Theatre London


Year Programme Character Notes
2006 The History Boys Rudge
2007 Rubbish Dan Series 2
2009 The Government Inspector Gendarme
The Admirable Crichton[44] Crichton Saturday play (60mins)
Newfangle[45] Newfangle Satirical series (six episodes of 30mins)
Last Night, Another Soldier[46] Briggsy Saturday play (60mins)
The Richest Man In Britain[47] Dom Comedy series (six episodes of 30mins)
2011 Countrysides Simon Afternoon play
2015 Wirral Radio Breakfast Show Himself Phone Interview[48]


  1. ^ "20 Questions With...Russell Tovey." What's On Stage. 3 January 2006. Accessed 22 March 2011. Archived 2 March 2011 at the Wayback Machine.
  2. ^ Being Human Returns to BBC America 24 July
  3. ^ a b c Mclean, Craig. "More Mr Nice Guy: Why Everyone Loves Russell Tovey." The Independent. 5 September 2010.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Gordon, Byrony (17 March 2009). "Russell Tovey interview: A History Boy with a big future". The Daily Telegraph. UK. Retrieved 18 March 2009. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Randall, Lee. "Actor Russell Tovey graduated to Dickens, Doctor Who and Gavin & Stacey. Now starring as a modern-day werewolf in a new TV sitcom, he's headed for the top of the class." The Scotsman. 1 February 2009. Retrieved 25 December 2013.
  6. ^ a b c Wilson, Benji. "In a Taxi With...Actor Russell Tovey." Daily Mail. 28 August 2010.
  7. ^ Russell Tovey at the Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 5 November 2006
  8. ^ The History Boys 2004, Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 17 October 2006
  9. ^ "The History Boys". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2006. 
  10. ^ "The History Boys: More is more". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2006. 
  11. ^ "Davies suggests next Doctor Who". BBC News Online. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  12. ^ "BBC Three presents Being Human". UK: BBC Three. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  13. ^ "Being Human commissioned for BBC Three". UK: BBC Three. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  14. ^ "Being Human death was 'horrendous' says Crichlow". 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  15. ^ "Being Human: Chasers (Unabridged)". Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  16. ^ a b "About a Boy". Attitude. January 2008. ISSN 1353-1875. , cited in UK actor Russell Tovey – Talented, gorgeous, and gay to boot!!!, After Elton, 14 January 2008
  17. ^ Billington, Michael (5 March 2009). "Theatre review: A Miracle / Royal Court, London". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  18. ^ a b "A Miracle". Royal Court Theatre. March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009. [dead link]
  19. ^ "Olivier Goss: What We Heard in the Ballroom???". What's On Stage. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Tyzack and Jacobi scoop top honours". Official London Theatre. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  21. ^ UK comedy Huge starts shooting in London, Screen Daily, 17 June 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009
  22. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (12 May 2009). "Russell Tovey to star in BBC3 sitcom that never leaves the bedroom". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 May 2009. 
  23. ^ "Young, Unemployed and Lazy". Big Talk Productions. Retrieved 22 June 2009. [dead link]
  24. ^ "Him & Her". Him and Her. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010. 
  25. ^ "Spike Jonze to star in C4 comedy". Broadcast Now. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2009. 
  26. ^ "Comedy Showcase". Comedy Showcase. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  27. ^ "Film Production". Beautiful Train Ltd. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  28. ^ "Drop". British Film Catalogue. Retrieved 19 May 2009. [dead link]
  29. ^ Russell Tovey at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 July 2009
  30. ^ "In Passing (2009)". Chris Croucher. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  31. ^ "On the Job Program". Palm Springs Film Festival. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  32. ^ Reid-Smith, Tris (26 April 2012). "Russell Tovey to star in new ITV sitcom". Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  33. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (12 March 2014). "Jimmy McGovern announces Australian convict drama Banished". Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  34. ^ Stanhope, Kate (June 3, 2016). "'Quantico' Enlists 'Looking' Grad Russell Tovey as Season 2 Regular (Exclusive)". Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  35. ^ "Howard Katz". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  36. ^ Plasticine by Vassily Sigarev, Nick Hern Books, 2002 ISBN 978-1-85459-690-1
  37. ^ "Henry V". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  38. ^ "His Dark Materials Part I 2003–04". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  39. ^ "His Girl Friday". Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  40. ^ "Hergé's Adventures of Tintin". The Stage. 16 December 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  41. ^ "The Big Brecht Fest I – The Jewish Wife / A Respectable Wedding". The Stage. 5 April 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  42. ^ "The Sea". The Stage. 28 January 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  43. ^
  44. ^ "Saturday Play: The Admirable Crichton". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  45. ^ "Newfangle episode 1 of 6". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  46. ^ "Saturday Play: Last Night, Another Soldier". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2 August 2009. 
  47. ^ ":The Richest Man In Britain Episode 3". BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  48. ^ Wirral Radio Breakfast – Wirral Radio

External links[edit]