Russell Tovey

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Russell Tovey
Russell Tovey.jpg
Tovey in 2009
BornRussell George Tovey
(1981-11-14) 14 November 1981 (age 33)
Billericay, Essex, England
Years active1994–present
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Russell Tovey
Russell Tovey.jpg
Tovey in 2009
BornRussell George Tovey
(1981-11-14) 14 November 1981 (age 33)
Billericay, Essex, England
Years active1994–present

Russell George Tovey (born 14 November 1981)[1] is an English actor with numerous television, film and stage credits. Tovey is known for playing the role of werewolf George Sands in the BBC's supernatural drama Being Human[2] which started in 2008. In November 2011, Tovey announced he would be leaving Being Human to work full-time on his BBC Three sitcom, Him & Her.[3] Tovey is also known for his portrayal of the character of Rudge in both the original London and Broadway stage version, and later the film, of The History Boys.

He is now currently playing Kevin Matheson on the HBO original hit series Looking.

Early life[edit]

Tovey is the younger of two children, born to Carole Haynes (formerly Webb) and George Tovey.[citation needed] Tovey has an older brother, Daniel.[4] He grew up in Billericay, Essex,[5] his parents run a Romford-based coach service taking passengers from Essex to Gatwick Airport,[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, Russell 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 as well.[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 Russell 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, due to air in 2015.

Tovey is currently filming Banished, an upcoming series written by Jimmy McGovern about a group of British convicts in Australia in the 18th century. It is expected to be broadcast in early 2015.[34]


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 in October 2004 helped them mend their relationship.[6] In an interview with The Scotsman, Tovey said, "The only thing I can give to young gay people is that when I was growing up there were no role models that were blokey, that were men. Everybody was flamboyant and camp, and I remember going, 'That's not me, so even though I think I am gay, I don't think I fit into this world.'"[6]

Tovey has been with his current boyfriend since 2009.[35]

Selected credits[edit]


2001The Emperor's New ClothesRecruit
2006The History BoysRudge
In PassingHenry
The Pirates! In an Adventure with ScientistsThe Albino Pirate (voice)
Tower BlockPaul
2014Moomins on the RivieraMoomintroll


1996SpywatchDennis SealySeries regular
1998The Mrs Bradley MysteriesStable BoyEpisode: Speedy Death (pilot)
2000Hope and GloryGary BaileyEpisode: 2.2
2001Agatha Christie's PoirotLionel MarshallEpisode: "Evil Under the Sun"
The BillTyro ShawEpisodes: "Complicity" Parts 1 & 2
2002Ultimate ForceWeaselEpisode: "The Killing House"
Silent WitnessJosh PalmerEpisode: "Kith and Kill" Parts 1 & 2
2005Messiah IV: The HarrowingRobbie McManus
My Family and Other AnimalsLeslie Durrell
2007–09Gavin & StaceyBudgieEpisodes: 1.5, 1.6, 2.6 and 3.3
2007Annually RetentiveBen5 episodes
Doctor WhoMidshipman Alonso FrameEpisode: "Voyage of the Damned"
2008–12Being HumanGeorge SandsSeries regular
2008Ashes to AshesMarcus JohnstoneEpisode: "The Smoking Gun"
Mutual FriendsEstate agentEpisode: 1.5
Little DorritJohn ChiveryEpisodes: 1 to 8, 12, 14
2009Agatha Christie's MarplePC Terence ReedEpisode: "Murder Is Easy"
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd MargaretDaveComedy Showcase pilot (27 November 2009)
Never Mind the BuzzcocksAs guestEpisode: 23.10 (2 December 2009)
2010Doctor WhoMidshipman Alonso FrameEpisode: "The End of Time"
2010–13Him & HerSteveSeries regular
2010–11Doctor Who ConfidentialHimselfNarrator (voice only)
2011–presentSun, Sex and Suspicious ParentsHimselfNarrator (voice only)
2012SherlockHenry KnightEpisode 2.2: "The Hounds of Baskerville"
Just a MinuteHimselfPanellist
2013The Dog RescuersHimself, NarratorSeries 1 (10 episodes)
2013-PresentThe Job LotKarlSeries regular
What RemainsMichael Jenson
Snow, Sex and Suspicious ParentsHimselfNarrator (voice only)
2014 - presentLookingKevin MathesonRecurring (season 1), series regular (season 2–present)
2015BanishedJames Freeman


2000The Recruiting OfficerChichester Festival TheatreChichester
2001Howard Katz[36]Cottesloe Theatre, Royal National TheatreLondon
Boy Having Sex
Royal Court TheatreLondon
2003Henry V[38]BoyOlivier Theatre, Royal National TheatreLondon
His Girl Friday[39]Ralph SweeneyOlivier Theatre, Royal National TheatreLondon
2003–04His Dark Materials[40]RogerOlivier Theatre, Royal National TheatreLondon
2004–06The History BoysRudgeRoyal National TheatreLondon
2005The Laramie ProjectSound TheatreLondon
2005–06Hergé's Adventures of Tintin (aka Tintin in Tibet)[41]TintinBarbican Arts CentreLondon
2006The History BoysRudgeLyric Theatre, Hong Kong Academy for Performing ArtsHong Kong
St JamesWellington
Sydney TheatreSydney
Broadhurst Theatre, BroadwayNew York
2007A Respectable Wedding[42]GroomYoung VicLondon
2008The Sea[43]Billy HallercutTheatre Royal HaymarketLondon
2009A Miracle[19]Gary TrudgillRoyal Court TheatreLondon
2012Sex With a StrangerAdamTrafalgar StudiosLondon
2014The PassJasonRoyal Court TheatreLondon


2006The History BoysRudge
2007RubbishDanSeries 2
2009The Government InspectorGendarme
The Admirable Crichton[44]CrichtonSaturday play (60mins)
Newfangle[45]NewfangleSatirical series (six episodes of 30mins)
Last Night, Another Soldier[46]BriggsySaturday play (60mins)
The Richest Man In Britain[47]DomComedy series (six episodes of 30mins)
2011CountrysidesSimonAfternoon play


  1. ^ "20 Questions With...Russell Tovey." What's On Stage. 3 January 2006. Accessed 22 March 2011.
  2. ^ Being Human Returns to BBC America 24 July
  3. ^ Iqbal, Nosheen. "Russell Tovey: Why I'm Leaving Being Human (and Loving Him & Her)." The Guardian. 11 November 2011. Accessed 12 November 2011.
  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 p 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. 
  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. 
  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. ^ Hattenstone, Simon (24 August 2013). "Russell Tovey: the unlikely lad". The Guardian. Retrieved 10 February 2014. 
  36. ^ "Howard Katz". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  37. ^ Plasticine by Vassily Sigarev, Nick Hern Books, 2002 ISBN 978-1-85459-690-1
  38. ^ "Henry V". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  39. ^ "His Dark Materials Part I 2003–04". Royal National Theatre. Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  40. ^ "His Girl Friday". Retrieved 24 November 2006. 
  41. ^ "Hergé's Adventures of Tintin". The Stage. 16 December 2005. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  42. ^ "The Big Brecht Fest I – The Jewish Wife / A Respectable Wedding". The Stage. 5 April 2007. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  43. ^ "The Sea". The Stage. 28 January 2008. Retrieved 5 February 2008. 
  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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