Russell George Tovey is a writer, who has had work performed at the Soho Theatre, the National Theatre Studio and Battersea Arts Centre, but is better known as an actor.
Born in Essex in November 1981, his first appearance was in Mud, a children’s series, when he was 13, and in 2004 he starred in Alan Bennett’s The History Boys both at the Royal National Theatre and on its worldwide tour. He reprised his role of Rudge (the least brilliant, but most pragmatic of the boys) in the movie version of the play.
Tovey has done a large amount of TV work. In 2005 he played Gerald Durell’s elder brother Leslie in the BBC adaptation of My Family and Other Animals and 2007 he played the recurring role of Rob Brydon’s gay producer, Ben, in Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive and guested in Gavin & Stacey (written by fellow History Boy, James Corden). He played a leading guest role in the 2007 Doctor Who Christmas Special, which also starred Kylie Minogue. Tovey, who is openly gay, described this experience thus in an interview with Doctor Who Magazine: “This show has quite a gay following ... I told a couple of mates, who are gay, that I’m doing it – well, they went mad. When I said that it’s with Kylie, they exploded! It’s a double-whammy of gay” .
It is believed Tovey was under consideration by Russell T. Davies to play the eleventh doctor, though Matt Smith was cast. However, he appeared again playing the same role, Midshipman Alonso Frame in the 2009/2010 Doctor Who Christmas Special, The End of Time.
In 2009, Tovey took the role of Gary Trudgill, a British Squaddie returning from overseas, in A Miracle at the Royal Court Theatre, worked on the film Huge , three short movies, Drop, Roar and Passing and starred in two television pilots: Young, Unemployed and Lazy (renamed to Him & Her) for BBC Three and The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret for Channel 4.
Both TV shows were comedies, though Tovey has expressed his wish to take on less upbeat roles in an interview with Attitude Magazine in 2008. Though he described himself as “A happy chappy” he said he’d like to take on something more challenging: “I want to play really dark, fucked-up characters. I want to play characters like drag queens, rent boys, someone who has been abused, a rapist.”
His current role, for which he is arguably best known, is darker - He plays werewolf George Sands, in BBC Three’s Being Human. It’s still not right the way down in the darkest corner of the human psyche though – so Tovey has plenty still to explore.