Childhood & Early Life
Stephen Tompkinson was born Stephen Phillip Tompkinson, on October 15, 1965, to Brian and Josephine Tompkinson, in Stockton-on-Tees, County Durham, England. He grew up with his brother, John Tompkinson. Stephen's father worked as a bank manager, while his mother was a housewife.
In his early years, Stephen’s family did not settle at any one place. This was due to his father’s job. Thus, he attended various schools in England. When he was 4 years old, the family moved to Scarborough, North Riding of Yorkshire. They then moved to Lytham St Annes, Lancashire.
He attended the ‘St Bede’s Roman Catholic High School’ in Lytham and ‘Mary’s Sixth Form’ in Blackpool. Although he had developed an interest in performance arts, he also loved cricket. He later revealed that had he not been an actor, he would have been a cricket commentator.
However, in high school, he began participating in dramas and plays, which further ignited his desire to pursue acting professionally. Following his high-school graduation, he joined the ‘Central School of Speech and Drama’ to study acting and graduated in 1988.
During his last year at the drama school, he won the ‘Carleton Hobbs Bursary,’ which made him a member of ‘BBC’s ‘Radio Drama Company.’ The same year (1987), he began his radio and TV career simultaneously.
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Stephen has worked extensively in radio, on stage, and on TV, since the beginning of his career. He began his career with radio in 1987, appearing in radio programs such as ‘The Man That Got Away’ and ‘Madame Aubray’s Principles’ (1988).
The same year, he made his TV debut with a small role as a police constable in the series titled ‘All at No 20.’ He then appeared in guest roles in series such as ‘The Return of Shelley,’ ‘After Henry,’ and ‘Never the Twain.’
In 1989, he essayed the role of ‘Eric’ in the televised play ‘And a Nightingale Sang’ and then appeared in series such as ‘Tales of Sherwood Forest’ and ‘The Manageress.’
He got the first big break of his acting career in 1990, when he appeared in the supporting role of ‘Markus Worton’ in the crime drama ‘Chancer.’ The first season of the series ran for 13 episodes, and Stephen appeared in 12 of them. The series was a commercial and critical hit, and Stephen gained marked recognition from its success.
Around the same time, Stephen got the biggest breakthrough of his career, when he was cast as ‘Damien Day’ in the sitcom ‘Drop the Dead Donkey.’ He appeared in six seasons of the series, until 1998, as one of its main characters. The international success of the sitcom brought him additional recognition as a highly competitive comedy actor.
In 1991, he appeared as ‘DC Johnny Park’ in the comedy–drama series ‘Minder.’ He appeared in nine episodes of the series. It was appreciated by both critics and audiences.
For the next few years, Stephen continued to appear in many series, such as ‘Performance’ and ‘Downwardly Mobile.’ In addition, he also devoted time to plays and radio dramas.
In the early 1990s, he performed in plays such as ‘Love’s Labour’s Lost’ and ‘Women Laughing.’ Both the plays were performed at the ‘Royal Exchange Theatre,’ Manchester. Stephen appeared in more plays in the 1990s, including hits such as ‘The End of the Food Chain’ and ‘Tartuffe.’
Additionally, he also played voice roles in radio dramas such as ‘The Murder on the Links’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’ He worked in radio dramas throughout the 1990s.
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After making his feature-film debut with the 1996 film ‘Brassed Off,’ he appeared in the 2000 film ‘Hotel Splendide.’ Both the films were critically and commercially acclaimed comedies.
He was, however, most famous on TV. In 1996, he starred as ‘Father Peter Clifford’ in the British TV drama ‘Ballykissangel.’ He appeared in 22 episodes of the first three seasons of the series. He then appeared in another supporting role, in the series ‘Grafters.’
In the early 2000s, he appeared in series such as ‘Bedtime,’ ‘Shades,’ and ‘Mr. Charity.’ He also played regular roles in series such as ‘In Deep’ and ‘Little Red Tractor.’
He gained acclaim for his roles in series such as ‘Wild at Heart,’ ‘DCI Banks,’ and ‘Trollied.’ Of late, he has been seen in TV films such as ‘Eric, Ernie and Me’ and ‘Torvill & Dean.’
He has also toured around with his play ‘Art’ in 2019. He has narrated for a few audiobooks, too.
He has worked as an associate producer for a few episodes of the series ‘DCI Banks’ and as a co-executive producer for the movie ‘Harrigan’ and a few episodes of ‘Wild at Heart.’
He has directed an episode of the series ‘Director's Debut,’ titled ‘The Lightning Kid’ (2016).
He has written a 1999 episode of the documentary series ‘Great Railway Journeys.’