David Threlfall is an English actor and director best known for his role of Frank Gallagher in Channel 4's series ‘Shameless’. He caught the acting bug at Wilbraham High School, after being encouraged by his teachers to play the male lead in a school production of ‘Rising Generation’ in 1971. He then joined Manchester Youth Theatre before attending Sheffield Hallam University for a year. He eventually applied to Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama and scored an audition with Mike Leigh even before he graduated. After making his acting debut in 1977 in ‘The Kiss of Death’, he acted in many television series, films and theatrical productions, and earned several awards and nominations over the years. His notable TV credits include ‘Scum’, ‘Shameless’, and ‘Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This’. His silver screen appearances include ‘Patriot Games’ and ‘Black Sea’. He married Bosnian actress Brana Bajic in 1995; the couple has two children.
David Threlfall started his acting career in 1977 with the television film ‘The Kiss of Death,’ directed by Mike Leigh. The same year, he appeared in the original ‘Play for Today’ version of the film ‘Scum’ as Archer. In 1980, he played the role of Smike in the play ‘The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby’ for the Royal Shakespeare Company in both London and New York, and was nominated for Broadway's 1982 Tony Award in the Best Actor (Featured Role - Play) category. He reprised the role in the TV series of the same name in 1982, followed by making appearances in ‘King Lear’ (1983) and ‘Paradise Postponed’ (1986). His notable stage performances include ‘Riddley Walker’ (1986), Oedipus (1987), and Macbeth (1988) at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester. He then appeared in the TV series ‘Nightingales’ (1990-93). He acted in the movie ‘Patriot Games’ (1992), and followed it by playing the role of Prince Charles in ‘Diana: Her True Story’ (1993). He took the lead role in the TV series ‘Men of the World’ (1994).
He made an appearance in the TV series ‘Conspiracy’ (2001), followed by playing Frank Gallagher in ‘Shameless’ (2004-13), also directing a few episodes of the show. In 2005, he played the role of Prince Philip in ‘The Queen's Sister’, William Last in the TV drama ‘Housewife, 49’ (2006), and Emperor Constantine I in the BBC docu-drama series ‘Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire’ (2006).
His notable film credits include ‘Hot Fuzz’ (2007), ‘Elizabeth: The Golden Age’ (2007), and ‘Nowhere Boy’ (2009). He appeared as a guest in the TV show ‘Have I Got News for You’ (2010), ‘What Remains’ (2013) and ‘Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This’ in 2014. He appeared in the film ‘Black Sea’ in 2014. In March 2016, he played the lead role in ‘Don Quixote’, at the Swan Theatre, Stratford, for the Royal Shakespeare Company. In 2018, he worked in the television series ‘Troy: Fall of a City’.
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Family & Personal Life
David Threlfall was born on 12 October 1953, in Crumpsall, Manchester, Lancashire, to Tommy Threlfall and Joyce Foulds. His father was a plumber and his mother was a housewife. His family first lived in Blackley, then moved to the Bradford area of Manchester, and finally relocated to Burnage when he was eight or nine years old. His interest in acting was first sparked at Wilbraham High School when he was encouraged by his two English teachers to play the male lead in a school production of Ann Jellicoe's ‘Rising Generation’ in 1971. Fascinated by acting, he later joined ‘Manchester Youth Theatre’.
He attended Sheffield Hallam University but stayed there only for a year (he was awarded an honorary doctorate from the institute in 2014). He eventually consulted a magazine in a public library that listed drama colleges and applied to Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama. By the time of his graduation, he had already scored an audition with Mike Leigh.
In 1994, he met Bosnian actress Brana Bajic, while working at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester on ‘The Count of Monte Cristo’. The couple tied the knot in 1995 and welcomed two children together.
He has admitted that despite playing the role of a chain smoker in ‘Shameless’, he is a non-smoker in real life and has a strong dislike for nicotine.