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Martin Shaw (born 21 January 1945 in Birminghammarker) is an Englishmarker actor.

Theatrical background

According to Shaw, his first stage appearance was at age three during an amateur show in which his parents were performing. At Great Barr Schoolmarker, where musician Steve Winwood was a classmate, he excelled in English literature and drama lessons. At sixteen, he was offered a scholarship to a Birmingham drama school. Declining the scholarship, he left school and, on the advice of his parents, began work. One job was in the office of a brass foundry. At eighteen, he moved to London to attend the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Artmarker. He served his apprenticeship in repertory as an assistant stage manager at the Queen's Theatre, Hornchurchmarker and the Bristol Old Vicmarker.


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 Theatremarker in 1974. He later acknowledged the role of Stanley Kowalski in the latter as a breakthrough in his career.

In the 1980s, Shaw played Elvis Presley in Alan Bleasdale's critically-acclaimed Are You Lonesome Tonight?. It told the story of Elvis' last few hours. After a long run in Londonmarker, the production visited Sydneymarker and Melbournemarker in Australia.

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

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 Haymarketmarker.


Shaw began television work in 1967. Parts in one-off plays for Granada Television led to his playing hippy student Robert Croft, Lucile Hewitt's boyfriend in Coronation Streetmarker. Another early role was booze and football-loving Welsh medical student Huw Evans in the television comedy series Doctor in the House. Huw Evans later returned in the Doctor at Large episode "Mother and Father Doing Well" as a very nervous expectant father.

With some prescience, Shaw appeared with future co-star Lewis Collins in an episode of The New Avengers. Both played the roles of terrorists.

Despite an extensive body of theatre and television work, Shaw is most famous for his role as Ray Doyle ("Agent 45") in the British television series The Professionals (1977-1982). The character brought instant fame but Shaw said he found this difficult and preferred anonymity. Later, problems allegedly arose over repeats. Newspaper reports suggested Shaw had blocked them because he was a "serious actor" and no longer wished to be associated with the programme. In radio interviews and a 1996 documentary, however, Shaw stated this was not the case; rather, negotiations concerning residual had not been satisfactorily completed.

Shaw played another law-enforcement role in the 1990s ITV production The Chief.

In 2001, he took the title role in the BBC drama Judge John Deed. The character gave voice to the television writer and producer Gordon F. Newman's ideas about lifestyle choices such as vegetarianism and pet ownership as well as issues of social justice. The series was criticized in some quarters for its alleged reliance on "bad science", but, in many instances, Shaw's performance lent the series a sense of reason and pragmatism.

Between seasons of Judge John Deed, Shaw took the role of poetic bespectacled forensic detective Adam Dalgliesh in P.D. James' Death in Holy Orders in 2003 and The Murder Room in 2005. Even though the role was secure, Shaw met with James and gained her approval.

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.

In the police drama Inspector George Gently, Shaw appears in the title role.

Television miniseries

In 1983, Shaw played Robert Falcon Scott in The Last Place on Earth. The series was filmed at Frobisher Baymarker on Baffin Islandmarker, Canadamarker. 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.

Rhodes was filmed on location in South Africa in the 1990s. Shaw's younger son, Jo, took early leave of his drama school course to play the part of the youthful Cecil Rhodesmarker before Shaw completed Rhodes' story from the statesman's mature years to his death. The BBC production was billed as a major epic but viewers' and critics' response was poor. Shaw said that when they cut him open and looked at his actor's heart they would see the word "Rhodes". Nevertheless, the miniseries was later released on VHS video and, in 2008, on DVD. A book on the making of the miniseries, containing educational material about Rhodes' life and times, was also released.


Shaw's first film role was as an Irish communist in Love on the Dole (1966). His best-known film role from the 1970s is probably Banquo in Roman Polanski's 1971 film version of Shakespeare's Macbeth. Although Shaw is not usually classified as a film actor, he has an eclectic ouvre of film roles, including an undercover Second World War operative in Operation Daybreak (alongside friend Anthony Andrews); as the singing futuristic magician "Zax" in Facelift; in Cassidy, filmed in Australia and South East Asia; and as a wanted convict leading a life on the run in a circus troop in Ladder of Swords.

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 "Merlin over Maltamarker" project. This featured the return of a World War II Supermarine Spitfire and Hawker Hurricane from Britain to Malta for the first time in fifty years.

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 Buckenhammarker 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 Airportmarker. Shaw also compared notes with the nonagenarian builder and developer of the modern autogyro, Wing Cdr. Ken Wallis.

Advertisements and endorsements

Among several voiceovers and appearances, Shaw starred in a 1987 TV advert for the Vauxhall Cavalier.

Personal life

In his youth, Shaw was involved in a drunken brawl with a friend, suffering broken teeth, injuries to his face and a fractured skull. A mid-face fracture involving the right cheekbone required surgical rebuilding.

In 1971, Shaw became a follower of Charan Singh, a master of the ancient spiritual tradition of Sant Mat. This involved a strict non-ovo vegetarian diet, meditation, yoga and the avoidance of alcohol and other mind-altering drugs.

Shaw is a celebrity activist for animal rights and animal welfare. He is the patron of the Hillside Animal Sanctuary in Norfolk, a charity organisation that provides a safe home for neglected and abused animals. He also supports Viva!

In interviews and in the Martin Shaw - Aviators documentary series, Shaw readily shares his passion for vintage aeroplanes. He is the holder of a private pilot's licence and owns a 1943 Boeing Stearman PT-17 Kaydet (G-BAVO) and a Piper Cub.

He is an avid supporter of Aston Villa Football Club.

Shaw has three children by his first wife, actress Jill Allen, whom he married in 1968: Luke Shaw, an actor; Joe Shaw, an actor and director; and Sophie Shaw, an actor and singer.

Shaw's second wife was former nurse turned alternative therapist and core process psychotherapist Maggie Mansfield.

Shaw's third wife was TV presenter Vicky Kimm, who shared his love of flying.

Between January 2003 and July 2008, Shaw and his partner, Karen da Silva, were stalked by Sandra Price, a divorcee in her sixties. Price sent Shaw several letters (which he said he found "offensive and intrusive") as well as a 120-page dossier of her views on his career and a 45-minute cassette tape.

In the early hours of a morning in July 2008, Sandra Price poured petrol through the door of da Silva's home. This action precipitated Price's arrest by police. In a two-day trial at King's Lynn Magistrates' court (6-7 January 2009), Price pleaded guilty to damage to property. She was also convicted of harassment. Price was sentenced on 28 January.. Although she avoided a custodial sentence, she was ordered to perform 240 hours of unpaid community work and pay a contribution towards the Crown's costs of £800. An electronically monitored curfew between 7 pm and 7 pm was imposed and the complainants received a restraining order against Price. When interviewed after the sentencing, Price was unrepentant.

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:
  • Winner of the Drama Desk Critic's Award for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play;
  • Winner of the Theatre World Special Award for Ensemble Performance.
  • Nominated for the Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play.

Television appearances

Theatre appearances

Film appearances


External links

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