Fast Facts

  • With two deaf parents, he learned sign language as a child.
  • Began his career on BBC Radio, and acting in small theaters.
  • For his 2005 work in the play The History Boys, won a Laurence Olivier Award, a Drama Desk Award, an Outer Critics Circle Award and a Tony; he later reprised the role in the 2006 film.
  • Starred with Harry Potter costar Daniel Radcliffe in a revival of the play Equus in London and New York in 2007.
  • Was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2008.
  • On several occasions, stopped a play to have an audience member with a ringing phone thrown out of the theater.
  • Starred in a 2012 West End revival of The Sunshine Boys with Danny DeVito.
  • Died following complications from heart surgery in 2013.


  • 2006, Tony — Actor (Play): Winner
  • 2007, BAFTA Film Awards — Best Actor in a Leading Role: Nominee


  • Heather Gibson — Wife


  • Attended Stockton and Billingham College, Stockton-on-Tees, England; Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama, Manchester, England