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Timothy Spall

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Timothy Spall
Spall at the world premiere of The Party in Berlin in 2017
Timothy Leonard Spall

(1957-02-27) 27 February 1957 (age 67)
London, England
EducationRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art (BA)
  • Actor
  • presenter
Years active1978–present
Shane Spall
(m. 1981)
Children3, including Rafe Spall

Timothy Leonard Spall OBE (born 27 February 1957)[1] is an English actor and presenter. Spall gained recognition for his character actor roles on stage and screen. He is known for his collaborations with director Mike Leigh, acting in six of his films: Home Sweet Home (1982), Life is Sweet (1990), Secrets & Lies (1996), Topsy-Turvy (1999), All or Nothing (2002), and Mr. Turner (2014). He was nominated for the BAFTA for Best Actor in a Leading Role for his role in Secrets and Lies, and received the Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Award for his portrayal of J. M. W. Turner in Mr. Turner.[2] In 2000, he was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) by Queen Elizabeth II.[3] He won the 2024 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role, for his performance as Peter Farquhar in The Sixth Commandment.[4]

He has appeared in many films, including Hamlet (1996), Still Crazy (1998), Nicholas Nickleby (2002), The Last Samurai (2003), Enchanted (2007), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), The Damned United (2009), The King's Speech (2010), Ginger and Rosa (2012), Denial (2016), The Party (2017), and Spencer (2021). He voiced Nick (a cynical, portly rat) in Chicken Run (2000). He also starred as Peter Pettigrew in five Harry Potter films, from Prisoner of Azkaban (2004) to Deathly Hallows – Part 1 (2010).

Spall gained prominence in the UK playing Barry Spencer Taylor in the ITV comedy drama series Auf Wiedersehen, Pet (1983–2004). His other television work includes the documentary series Timothy Spall: ...at Sea (2010–2012) and the BBC Cold War drama Summer of Rockets (2019).

Early life[edit]

Spall, the third of four sons,[5] was born on 27 February 1957 in Battersea, London. His mother, Sylvia R. (née Leonard), was a hairdresser, and his father, Joseph L. Spall, was a postal worker.[6][7][8][9] Spall attended Battersea County Comprehensive School.[10] At that time, he was planning on going to art school or joining the army.[5] Spall's ambitions turned towards acting when he was 16, after appearing in a school play as the lion in the Wizard of Oz: "I was up there on stage being funny, and people laughed. I wanted to do it again and again."[7] He trained at the National Youth Theatre,[10] and at RADA, graduating in 1978,[11] after being awarded the Bancroft Gold Medal as the most promising actor in his year.[12]


Spall initially made his mark in theatre performing in productions for Birmingham Rep, including the UK premier of Arnold Wesker's The Merchant, and, later, the Royal Shakespeare Company, including The Merry Wives of Windsor, Three Sisters, Nicholas Nickleby and The Knight of the Burning Pestle. At The National Theatre Spall played the Dauphin in George Bernard Shaw's St Joan.

Following a film debut in Quadrophenia and wider TV exposure playing, as Wayne says, "the gormless radish" [awkward] Barry Taylor in all four series of Auf Wiedersehen, Pet, Kevin in Outside Edge and Aubrey the appalling chef in Mike Leigh's Life is Sweet, Spall has since appeared in the films Crusoe, Secrets & Lies, Shooting the Past, Topsy-Turvy, Vanilla Sky, Rock Star, All or Nothing, The Last Samurai, Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events and The King's Speech. He performed as Peter Pettigrew ("Wormtail") in the Harry Potter film series. In 1991 he guest starred in the series 5 Red Dwarf episode "Back to Reality". In 1993, Spall was a guest in the Scottish comedy series Rab C. Nesbitt.

He was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2000 New Year Honours.[13]

Spall performed lead vocals on the song "The Devil is an Englishman"[14] from the Ken Russell film Gothic (1986), in which Spall portrayed John William Polidori. Spall played the starring role of Albert Pierrepoint in the 2005 film Pierrepoint, which was released as The Last Hangman in the United States. In the 2006 video game Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Stories, Spall voiced Phil Collins' manager, Barry Mickelthwaite. In 2007, he starred as Nathaniel in Disney's Enchanted and Beadle Bamford in Tim Burton's production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street. He also starred as Georgie Godwin in a one-off television drama The Fattest Man in Britain on ITV1 which aired on 20 December 2009. The drama also featured Bobby Ball, Frances Barber, Aisling Loftus and Jeremy Kyle.

In 2010, he portrayed Winston Churchill in the film The King's Speech,[15] for which, as a member of the ensemble, he was jointly awarded the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture.[16] Spall reprised the role at the 2012 Summer Olympics closing ceremony.[17]

In 2012, Spall filmed Wasteland (known as The Rise in Britain), with actors Matthew Lewis and Vanessa Kirby. The Newport Beach Film Festival in Newport Beach, California, screened Wasteland in April 2013.[18] Also in 2012 Spall played Charlie Morgan in the edgy film Comes a Bright Day.

In 2014, he won the Best Actor Award at the 2014 Cannes Film Festival for Mr. Turner, a biographical film on J. M. W. Turner directed by Mike Leigh. Spall has mentioned that this role is his personal favourite as it inspired him to take on painting.[19] In 2016, Spall portrayed Holocaust denier David Irving in the film Denial, directed by Mick Jackson.[20]

From 29 March to 14 May 2016, Spall played the title role of Davies in Harold Pinter's play The Caretaker, directed by Matthew Warchus at the Old Vic theatre in London opposite George MacKay and Daniel Mays.[21]

In 2018 he played Terry Perkins, one of the robbers, in the ITV mini series Hatton Garden.

Spall went on to play Major Alistair Gregory in the acclaimed dramatic film Spencer (2021). He shared several psychologically charged scenes with Kristen Stewart who portrayed Princess Diana.

Spall received the 2024 BAFTA TV Award for Best Actor in a Leading Role,[4] for his performance as Peter Farquhar in the BBC's true life drama series The Sixth Commandment, which aired in 2023.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Spall filming Enchanted in New York City in 2006

Spall and his wife Shane have three children: Pascale (born 1976), Rafe (born 1983), who is also an actor, and Mercedes (born 1985). He lives in Forest Hill,[23] South East London.[24][25]

In 1996, Spall was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia, but has since been in remission.[26] He has said of his illness:

I didn't know what made me ill but stress had something to do with it and the point is now to head off stress at the pass. It made me aware of things and become more selective. I am less worried about employment. I really do my homework so I am not getting stressed on the set because I don't know what I'm doing.[27]

He is the owner of a Dutch barge, in which he and his wife sailed around the British Isles as part of a BBC Four TV series Timothy Spall: Back at Sea.[28]


Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1996 British Academy Film Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Secrets & Lies Nominated
2000 Best Actor in a Supporting Role Topsy-Turvy Nominated
1999 British Academy Television Awards Best Actor Our Mutual Friend Nominated
2000 Shooting the Past Nominated
2002 Vacuuming Completely Nude in Paradise Nominated
2024 The Sixth Commandment Won
2001 British Independent Film Awards Best Actor Lucky Break Nominated
2002 All or Nothing Nominated
2014 Mr. Turner Nominated
2014 Cannes Film Festival Best Actor Won
2008 Critics' Choice Awards Best Acting Ensemble Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street Nominated
2002 European Film Awards Best Actor All or Nothing Nominated
2014 Mr. Turner Won
1997 London Film Critics' Circle Awards British Actor of the Year Secrets & Lies Nominated
2001 Supporting Actor of the Year Topsy-Turvy Nominated
2007 British Actor of the Year Pierrepoint: The Last Hangman Nominated
2010 Supporting Actor of the Year The Damned United Nominated
2015 Actor of the Year Mr. Turner Nominated
British Actor of the Year Won
2002 National Board of Review Awards Best Cast Nicholas Nickleby Won
2014 National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Actor Mr. Turner Won
2014 New York Film Critics Circle Awards Best Actor Won
2009 Satellite Awards Best Supporting Actor – Motion Picture The Damned United Nominated
2010 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture The King's Speech Won


  1. ^ "BFI Screenonline: Spall, Timothy (1957–) Biography". www.screenonline.org.uk. Archived from the original on 27 February 2023. Retrieved 16 January 2024.
  2. ^ "Awards 2014 : Competition". Cannes. Archived from the original on 23 October 2013. Retrieved 25 May 2014.
  3. ^ "ENTERTAINMENT | Spall and Steadman collect OBEs". BBC News. 13 June 2000. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  4. ^ a b "Timothy Spall praised for 'real' speech after shock Bafta win over Brian Cox". The Independent. 13 May 2024. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  5. ^ a b Smith, Julian Llewellyn (20 August 2001). "Timothy Spall: A bloke for all seasons". The Independent. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022.
  6. ^ Deborah Ross (12 January 2008). "Timothy Spall: Lucky Tim – Features – Films". The Independent. London. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  7. ^ a b "Timothy Spall: Victim of his own success – Profiles – People". The Independent. London: News.independent.co.uk. 30 March 2006. Archived from the original on 10 January 2008. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  8. ^ "You'll know the face". www.smh.com.au. 17 January 2004. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  9. ^ "timedetectives.co.uk" (PDF). Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  10. ^ a b Rich Pelley (2 September 2021). "Timothy Spall's teenage obsessions: For my art A-level I nailed up apples covered in pubic hair". theguardian.com.
  11. ^ "RADA Student & graduate profiles – Timothy Spall". rada.ac.uk. 19 December 2023.
  12. ^ Gerard Gilbert (20 August 2011). "The son also rises: How Rafe Spall conquered Hollywood". independent.co.uk.
  13. ^ "Spall and Steadman collect OBEs". BBC News. 13 June 2000. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  14. ^ Liner notes from the 2009 reissue of the Thomas Dolby album The Flat Earth. Dolby composed the score for Gothic.
  15. ^ French, Philip (9 January 2011). "The King's Speech – review". The Observer. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  16. ^ Sperling, Nicole (31 January 2011). "'The King's Speech' continues its reign at SAG Awards". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  17. ^ Rees, Jasper (13 August 2012). "Olympics closing ceremony: A long goodbye to the Games". BBC News. Retrieved 15 May 2024.
  18. ^ ”Wasteland Newport Beach Film Festival 2013 Screenings”
  19. ^ Broborn, Sandra (2 October 2023). "I höst spelar Timothy Spall mordoffer i finsk tv". Hufvudstadsbladet (in Swedish). Helsingfors. p. 18.
  20. ^ "Denial (II) (2016) Full Cast & Crew". IMDB. Retrieved 27 January 2022.
  21. ^ Billington, Michael (7 April 2016). "The Caretaker review - Pinter given renewed zest by Warchus and Spall". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  22. ^ Mangan, Lucy (17 July 2023). "The Sixth Commandment review – as immaculate a piece of TV as you will ever see". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 13 May 2024.
  23. ^ Lynn Barber (30 September 2002). "Timothy Spall: Cruise, characters and chemotherapy | Film | The Observer". London: Film.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  24. ^ Stuart Jeffries (5 November 2007). "Stuart Jeffries talks to Timothy Spall | Film | The Guardian". London: Film.guardian.co.uk. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  25. ^ "Timothy Spall goes down to the sea". The Daily Telegraph. London. 24 April 2010. Archived from the original on 11 January 2022. Retrieved 30 January 2012.
  26. ^ "/ Arts / Film & Television – Nothing to lose, everything to enjoy". Ft.com. 8 April 2006. Retrieved 13 February 2013.
  27. ^ "Timothy Spall: Our mutual friend". The Independent. 1 April 2006. Archived from the original on 21 June 2022. Retrieved 16 February 2018.
  28. ^ "BBC News – Actor Timothy Spall rescued by Sheerness lifeboat". bbc.co.uk. 25 August 2011. Retrieved 30 January 2012.

External links[edit]