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 versions 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. Currently, he stars as Harry Doyle in the drama-thriller series Quantico on the ABC network.[3]

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.[4] He grew up in Billericay, Essex,[5][6] and he attended Harold Court School in Harold Wood and Shenfield High School.[7] As a boy, Tovey said he "was an avid collector of various things and prone to participating in fads."[6] His parents supported his efforts, taking him to archeological digs and museums, buying him a metal detector, and going to conventions for mineralologists.[6] For a time he wanted to be a history teacher,[6] but after seeing Dead Poets Society, The Goonies, and Stand By Me, he decided to be an actor.[6] 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.[5] He began acting when he was 11 years old.[6] 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.[6] His TV career started in 1994, when he was cast in Mud, a children's series broadcast on CBBC.[5]

He left high school at the age of 16, and started a BTEC in performing arts at Barking College.[7] He was expelled after a year for refusing a role in the school play in favour of a paying acting job.[7] He acted in plays in Chichester under the direction of Debra Gillett, wife of Patrick Marber.[5] He met Marber through Gillett, and Marber cast him in the play Howard Katz at the National Theatre.[5] He also performed in His Girl Friday and His Dark Materials there.[5]

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.[8][9][10][11] He originally auditioned for the role of Crowther but agreed to act the part of Rudge after Bennett promised to beef up the role.[6] 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.[6]

In spring 2007, Tovey had a recurring role in BBC Three comedy Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive, playing Rob's producer, Ben.[6] He played Midshipman Alonso Frame, in 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special "Voyage of the Damned".[6] Russell T. Davies, the show's executive producer and lead writer, had suggested Tovey as a future replacement for David Tennant,[12] 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.[13] A six-part series was commissioned with the first episode broadcast on 25 January 2009.[14] Tovey left the regular cast of the show at the start of the fourth season on 5 February 2012.[15] In November 2012 AudioGO Ltd released an audiobook version of Mark Michalowski's Being Human tie-in novel Chasers, which is narrated by Tovey.[16]

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".[17]

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.[18][19] 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.[20][21]

In 2009, Tovey worked on the film Huge[22] and starred in two television pilots: Young, Unemployed and Lazy (a BBC Three sitcom),[23][24] renamed to Him & Her[25] 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.[26][27]

He also appeared in three shorts: Drop[28][29] (which premièred at the 2009 Rushes Soho Shorts Film Festival), Roar,[30] and In Passing.[31] Roar premiered at the Palm Springs Film Festival on 24 June 2009.[32]

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.[33]

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.[34]

In 2016, Tovey was cast in the ABC network thriller drama Quantico for the series regular role of Harry Doyle.[3]


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.[4] He also wrote a short film, Victor, and as of August 2010 was seeking funding to produce the picture.[4]

Personal life[edit]

During his adolescent years, Tovey's homosexuality caused friction within his family.[17] 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.[6] 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".[6] Tovey says his parents were deeply concerned about the possibility he might contract HIV, which may have contributed to the falling out.[6] The birth of Tovey's nephew Nathan in October 2004 helped them mend their relationship.[6]



Year Title Role Notes
2001 The Emperor's New Clothes Recruit
2006 The History Boys Peter Rudge
2009 In Passing Henry Travers Short film
2012 Grabbers Dr. Adam Smith
2012 The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists The Albino Pirate Voice
2012 Tower Block Paul
2014 Effie Gray George
2014 Muppets Most Wanted Delivery Man
2014 Pride Tim
2014 Moomins on the Riviera Moomintroll Voice
2015 The Lady in the Van Young Man with Earring
2016 The Pass Jason
2017 Night of the Lotus Charlie In post-production
2017 The Hippopotamus Rupert Keynes In post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Spywatch Dennis Sealey Unknown episodes
1998 The Mrs Bradley Mysteries Stable Boy Episode: "Speedy Death"
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 2 episodes
2001 Holby City Jerome Hibbert Episode: "Borrowed Time"
2002 Ultimate Force Weasel Episode: "The Killing House"
2002 Silent Witness Josh Palmer 2 episodes
2002 The Bill Kieran Elcott Episode: "068"
2003 William and Mary Aaron Patterson Episode 4
2003 Servants John Walters Episode 4
2005 Holby City Adam Spengler Episode: "Soft Centred"
2005 Messiah IV: The Harrowing Robbie McManus 3 episodes
2005 My Family and Other Animals Leslie Durrell Television film
2007–2009 Gavin & Stacey Budgie 4 episodes
2007 Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive Ben 5 episodes
2007 Doctor Who Midshipman Alonso Frame Episode: "Voyage of the Damned"
2008–2012 Being Human George Sands 24 episodes
2008 Ashes to Ashes Marcus Johnstone Episode: "The Smoking Gun"
2008 Mutual Friends Estate Agent Episode 5
2008 Little Dorrit John Chivery 10 episodes
2009 Agatha Christie's Marple PC Terence Reed Episode: "Murder Is Easy"
2009 The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret Dave Mountford Pilot
2010 Doctor Who Midshipman Alonso Frame Episode: "The End of Time"
2010–2013 Him & Her Steve Marshall 25 episodes
2010–2011 Doctor Who Confidential Narrator 14 episodes
2011–present Sun, Sex and Suspicious Parents Narrator
2012 Sherlock Henry Knight Episode: "The Hounds of Baskerville"
2013 Talking to the Dead DS Huw Brydon 2 episodes
2013 The Dog Rescuers Narrator 10 episodes
2013 What Remains Michael Jenson 4 episodes
2013–2015 The Job Lot Karl Lyndhurst 18 episodes
2014–2015 Looking Kevin Matheson 15 episodes
2015 Drunk History King Charles II Episode 6
2015 Banished James Freeman 7 episodes
2016 Looking: The Movie Kevin Matheson Television film
2016 (The Comic Strip Presents... Red Top Andy Coulson Television film
2016 The Night Manager Simon Ogilvey Episode 1
2016–present Quantico Harry Doyle Series regular

Other credits[edit]


Year Title Role Theatre Location
2000 The Recruiting Officer Chichester Festival Theatre Chichester
2001 Howard Katz Cottesloe Theatre, Royal National Theatre London[35]
2002 Plasticine Spira / Boy Having Sex Royal Court Theatre London[36]
2003 Henry V Boy Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre London[37]
2003 His Girl Friday Ralph Sweeney Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre London[38]
2003–2004 His Dark Materials Roger Parslow Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre London[39]
2004–2006 The History Boys Peter Rudge Lyttleton Theatre, Royal National Theatre London
2005 The Laramie Project Gil Engen Sound Theatre London
2005–2006 Hergé's Adventures of Tintin Tintin Barbican Arts Centre London[40]
2006 The History Boys Peter 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 The Bridegroom Young Vic London[41]
2008 The Sea Billy Hallercut Theatre Royal Haymarket London[42]
2009 A Miracle Gary Trudgill Royal Court Theatre London[19]
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 Title Role
2006 The History Boys Peter Rudge
2007 Rubbish Dan
2009 The Government Inspector Gendarme
2009 The Admirable Crichton[44] Crichton
2009 Newfangle[45] Newfangle
2009 Last Night, Another Soldier[46] Briggsy
2009 The Richest Man In Britain[47] Dom
2011 Countrysides Simon


  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 Stanhope, Kate (June 3, 2016). "'Quantico' Enlists 'Looking' Grad Russell Tovey as Season 2 Regular (Exclusive)". Retrieved June 3, 2016. 
  4. ^ a b c Mclean, Craig. "More Mr Nice Guy: Why Everyone Loves Russell Tovey." The Independent. 5 September 2010.
  5. ^ 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. 
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ a b c Wilson, Benji. "In a Taxi With...Actor Russell Tovey." Daily Mail. 28 August 2010.
  8. ^ Russell Tovey at the Internet Broadway Database. Retrieved 5 November 2006
  9. ^ The History Boys 2004, Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 17 October 2006
  10. ^ "The History Boys". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 17 October 2006. 
  11. ^ "The History Boys: More is more". Archived from the original on 18 January 2008. Retrieved 17 October 2006. 
  12. ^ "Davies suggests next Doctor Who". BBC News Online. 16 September 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  13. ^ "BBC Three presents Being Human". UK: BBC Three. 6 November 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  14. ^ "Being Human commissioned for BBC Three". UK: BBC Three. 24 April 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2009. 
  15. ^ "Being Human death was 'horrendous' says Crichlow". 6 February 2012. Retrieved 6 February 2012. 
  16. ^ "Being Human: Chasers (Unabridged)". Retrieved 18 June 2014. 
  17. ^ 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
  18. ^ Billington, Michael (5 March 2009). "Theatre review: A Miracle / Royal Court, London". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  19. ^ a b "A Miracle". Royal Court Theatre. March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009. [dead link]
  20. ^ "Olivier Goss: What We Heard in the Ballroom???". What's On Stage. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009. [dead link]
  21. ^ "Tyzack and Jacobi scoop top honours". Official London Theatre. 8 March 2009. Retrieved 12 March 2009. 
  22. ^ UK comedy Huge starts shooting in London, Screen Daily, 17 June 2009. Retrieved 27 August 2009
  23. ^ Holmwood, Leigh (12 May 2009). "Russell Tovey to star in BBC3 sitcom that never leaves the bedroom". The Guardian. UK. Retrieved 12 May 2009. 
  24. ^ "Young, Unemployed and Lazy". Big Talk Productions. Retrieved 22 June 2009. [dead link]
  25. ^ "Him & Her". Him and Her. 10 June 2010. Retrieved 20 June 2010. 
  26. ^ "Spike Jonze to star in C4 comedy". Broadcast Now. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 29 May 2009. 
  27. ^ "Comedy Showcase". Comedy Showcase. 27 November 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2009. 
  28. ^ "Film Production". Beautiful Train Ltd. Retrieved 19 May 2009. 
  29. ^ "Drop". British Film Catalogue. Retrieved 19 May 2009. [dead link]
  30. ^ Russell Tovey at the Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 2 July 2009
  31. ^ "In Passing (2009)". Chris Croucher. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  32. ^ "On the Job Program". Palm Springs Film Festival. Retrieved 27 July 2009. 
  33. ^ Reid-Smith, Tris (26 April 2012). "Russell Tovey to star in new ITV sitcom". Retrieved 26 April 2012. 
  34. ^ Beaumont-Thomas, Ben (12 March 2014). "Jimmy McGovern announces Australian convict drama Banished". Retrieved 12 March 2014. 
  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. 

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