Martin Shaw

Martin Shaw (born 21 January 1945) is an English actor. He came to national recognition as Doyle in ITV crime-action television drama series The Professionals (1977–1983). Further notable television parts include the title roles in The Chief (1993–1995), Judge John Deed (2001–2007) and Inspector George Gently (2007–2017). He has also acted on stage and in film, and has narrated numerous audiobooks and presented various television series.

Martin Shaw
Shaw in 2020
Born (1945-01-21) 21 January 1945
Alma materLondon Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active1967-present
Jill Allen
(m. 1968, divorced)
Maggie Mansfield
(m. 1985, divorced)

Vicky Kimm
(m. 1996, divorced)
PartnerKaren Da’Silva (since 2003)

Early life

Shaw was born in Birmingham. His childhood was spent in Alleyne Grove in Erdington and Sutton Coldfield.[2] Shaw attended Great Barr School, where he excelled in English literature and drama lessons. [3] At sixteen, he was offered a scholarship to a Birmingham drama school but declined.[4]

In his youth, Shaw was involved in a drunken brawl with a friend, suffering broken teeth, injuries to his face and a fractured skull, and needed cheekbone surgery. [5]

At age eighteen, Shaw moved to London to attend the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art.[6] He served his apprenticeship in repertory as an assistant stage manager at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurch and the Bristol Old Vic.[6]


Shaw took key roles in the first revival of Look Back in Anger (Royal Court/Criterion, 1968); in the National Theatre's Saturday, Sunday, Monday opposite Laurence Olivier (1973); and in A Streetcar Named Desire presented by the Piccadilly Theatre in 1974. He later acknowledged the role of Stanley Kowalski in 'Streetcar' as a point of breakthrough in his career.[6]

In 1985, Shaw played Elvis Presley in Alan Bleasdale's critically acclaimed Are You Lonesome Tonight?. It told the story of Presley's last few hours. After a long run in London, the production visited Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in Australia. [7][8]

Shaw's portrayal of Lord Goring in An Ideal Husband on Broadway earned him a Tony Award nomination and a Drama Desk award. [6]

After filming finished on the TV series Judge John Deed, Shaw took the role of Thomas More in Robert Bolt's play A Man for All Seasons. Shaw's daughter, Sophie, played opposite him as More's daughter, Margaret. The production toured Britain's cities before a run in London at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.[6]

In 2013. in a new production of the classic play Twelve Angry Men at the Garrick Theatre London, Shaw played the part of the dissenting juror (identified as juror number 8).[9]

In 2016 Shaw toured and hit the West End again with a lively production of Hobson's Choice at the Vaudeville. After completing filming the final episode of George Gently, Shaw again toured in 2017 with the U.K. premier of Gore Vidal's 1960 political piece: The Best Man. Shaw played the part of William Russell, former US Secretary of State.[10]


Shaw began television work in 1967.[8] Parts in one-off plays for Granada Television led to his playing hippy student Robert Croft, Lucile Hewitt's boyfriend, in Coronation Street.[8] Another early role was booze and football-loving Welsh medical student Huw Evans in the television comedy series Doctor in the House. He later guest-starred, playing the same role, in the follow-up series Doctor at Large, now a nervous expectant father in the episode "Mother and Father Doing Well".[11]

Shaw appeared with future co-star Lewis Collins in an episode of The New Avengers. Both played the roles of terrorists.[8] Shaw portrayed Ray Doyle ("Agent 4–5") in the British television series The Professionals (1977–1983), opposite Collins. Shaw played another law-enforcement role in the 1990s ITV production The Chief.[8]

In 1983, Shaw played Robert Falcon Scott in The Last Place on Earth. The series was filmed at Frobisher Bay near the city of Iqaluit on Baffin Island, Canada. In interview at the time, Shaw commented that he generally responded well to the testing physical conditions, particularly when they enhanced the reality of the scene. In the same year he played Sir Henry Baskerville in The Hound of the Baskervilles, an adaptation of the novel by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. He acted opposite Ian Richardson's Sherlock Holmes and Donald Churchill's Dr. Watson.

He played Cecil Rhodes in Rhodes, an eight-part serial that aired in 1996 and was filmed on location in South Africa. Shaw's younger son, Joe, took early leave of his drama school course to play the part of the youthful Rhodes. [12]

Another television acting credit includes the role of Dr Robert Kingston in Always and Everyone (1999–2002), a British accident and emergency medical series, played alongside Niamh Cusack. [13]

In 2001, he took the title role in the BBC drama Judge John Deed.[8] The character gave an editorial voice to the television writer and producer G.F. Newman's ideas about lifestyle choices such as vegetarianism and alternative medicine as well as issues of social justice. One episode about the safety of the MMR vaccine was banned.[14][15]

Between seasons of Judge John Deed, Shaw took the role of poetic bespectacled forensic detective Adam Dalgliesh in P.D. James's Death in Holy Orders in 2003 and The Murder Room in 2005. After the sixth season of Judge John Deed had been filmed, Shaw appeared in the series Apparitions, broadcast by the BBC in 2008. This was Shaw's first project as executive director.[13]

From 2007 until 2017 he played the title role in the BBC TV series Inspector George Gently alongside co-star Lee Ingleby. On 9 May 2015 Shaw recited "For the Fallen" at VE Day 70: A Party to Remember in Horse Guards Parade, London which was broadcast on BBC 1.[13]

In 2021 he played the role of Dennis Stephenson, leader of a fictitious religious cult called the Barum Brethren, in the BritBox original series The Long Call. The series premiered in autumn 2021, and is based on the Ann Cleeves bestselling novel.[16]


Although Shaw is not classified as a film actor he has had several roles over the years. His first film role was an Irish communist in a 1967 television adaptation of the novel, Love on the Dole. Better known is his 1971 role of Banquo in Roman Polanski's Macbeth. He has also been seen as an undercover Second World War operative in the 1975 production Operation Daybreak; a singing and dancing futuristic magician "Zax" in Facelift; the role of Rachid in the 1973 film The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, and a wanted villain leading a life on the run in a circus troupe in Ladder of Swords (1989).[13]

Narration and documentaries

Shaw has narrated many audiobooks, including Tolkien's The Hobbit and The Silmarillion; Swift's Gulliver's Travels; and Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights. In 2006, Shaw narrated and appeared in a DVD chronicling the "Merlins over Malta" project. This featured the return of a Second World War Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane from Britain to Malta for the first time in fifty years.[13]

In December 2006, Shaw presented the six-part Discovery Channel Real Time TV series Martin Shaw: Aviators, produced by Twofour, which followed the two-year restoration of his Boeing Stearman biplane after it was crashed by another pilot at Old Buckenham airfield in Norfolk. Shaw fulfilled a lifetime ambition to take the controls of a Spitfire (owned by Maurice Bayliss) and, though take-off was not permitted, he also powered an English Electric Lightning (owned by Russell Carpenter) to 150 mph in three seconds along the runway at Cranfield Airport. Shaw also compared notes with the nonagenarian builder and developer of the modern autogyro, Wing Cdr. Ken Wallis.[13]

In 2010 he presented a documentary for the BBC titled Dambusters Declassified in which he investigated and debunked some of the myths of the dambusters raid known as Operation Chastise story which had been portrayed in the books Enemy Coast Ahead and The Dambusters, and the film The Dam Busters.[13]


Among several voiceovers and appearances, in 1974, Shaw starred in a three-minute advertisement for the Mk II Ford Capri[17] and in 1987, a TV advert for the Vauxhall Cavalier.[18]

Activism and charity work

Shaw is a celebrity activist for animal rights and animal welfare. He is the patron of the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Frettenham in Norfolk, a charity organisation which provides a safe home for neglected and abused animals.[19] He also supports Viva! and Dr Hadwen Trust.[20]

In March 2012, he also announced that he would become the official patron to the community organisation Stop Norwich UrBanisation or SNUB, whose aim is to protect Norfolk's countryside from overdevelopment and excessive urbanisation. In the press release, he stated that he was "simply furious and upset by your plight and that of all of us who wish to live in quiet and peace. I will be your Patron and keep fighting".[21]

Personal life

In 1971, Shaw became a follower of Charan Singh, of the Sant Mat religion.[22]

Shaw lives in Hingham in Norfolk.[23]

On 18 August 2010, Shaw collapsed during the first act of the matinee showing of A Country Girl at Shrewsbury's Theatre Severn. His agent, Roger Charteris, said he had been suffering from cracked ribs and was taking antibiotics for a severe chest infection. An understudy went on in his place.[24]

Shaw has been teetotal and a vegetarian for over 40 years.[25]

Awards and nominations

Shaw won two awards in 1996 for his performance as Lord Goring in the Broadway production of An Ideal Husband and was nominated for a third:






  1. Before 1 April 1974 Birmingham was in Warwickshire


  1. Carter, Claire (19 September 2014). "Martin Shaw: living apart is key to happy relationship". Telegraph. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  2. "Martin Shaw profile". 2012.
  3. "Will The Professionals star Martin Shaw be taking Doyle's skills into Peaky Blinders?". 2016.
  4. "30 Celebrities you didn't know from Birmingham". 2015.
  5. "Desert Island Discs". Desert Island Discs. 21 June 2009. BBC. Radio 4.
  6. "Martin Shaw On Stage - Theatre Credits, Bio and Tickets". 2020.
  7. "Martin Shaw Actor playing part of Elvis Presley in Alan Bleasdales Writer stage musical Are you Lonesome tonight January 1985". Aalmy. 1985.
  8. "Martin Shaw". BBC. 2017.
  9. Fiona Mountford (12 November 2013). "Twelve Angry Men, Garrick Theatre – review". London Evening Standard. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
  10. "Martin Shaw to lead stellar cast in The Best Man at Bath's Theatre Royal". Bath Echo. 4 October 2017.
  11. "Doctor in the House cast List". 2019.
  12. "Dad's fame spoiled my childhood but being an actor was all I ever wanted to do". 2000.
  13. "Martin shaw". 2020.
  14. Furness, Hannah (2016). "BBC 'too anxious about offending', says Judge John Deed producer". The Daily Telegraph.
  15. Leigh Holmwood (2016). "BBC shows that broke the impartiality rules". The Guardian.
  16. Julians, Joe (26 October 2021). "The Long Call on ITV: Release date, cast, trailer and latest news". RadioTimes. Retrieved 13 May 2022.
  17. Martin Shaw – Capri Advert on YouTube
  18. Video on YouTube.
  19. Archived 5 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. Hillside Animal Sanctuary. Retrieved 7 November 2007.
  20. "Celebrity support". Dr Hadwen Trust. Archived from the original on 28 November 2013. Retrieved 9 October 2016.
  21. "Martin Shaw to become SNUB patron". Retrieved 14 March 2012.
  22. "BBC Interview (Real Media video)". BBC News. 2010.
  23. Norwich Evening News, March 26 2020
  24. "Actor Martin Shaw Taken Ill During Play". BBC News. 2010.
  25. Carter, Claire (19 September 2014). "Martin Shaw: living apart is key to happy relationship". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 10 April 2016. Retrieved 10 May 2022.
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