David Bradley
Bradley at the 2015 San Diego Comic-Con
David John Bradley

(1942-04-17) 17 April 1942 (age 81)
York, England
Alma materRoyal Academy of Dramatic Art
Years active1971–present
Rosanna Bradley
(m. 1978)

David John Bradley (born 17 April 1942)[1] is an English actor. He is known for his screen roles including Argus Filch in the Harry Potter film series, Walder Frey in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones, and Abraham Setrakian in the FX horror series The Strain.

A character actor, Bradley has notably acted in Our Friends in the North, the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy and After Life. He has made several appearances as the First Doctor in Doctor Who, having portrayed the role's originator, William Hartnell, in the TV biopic An Adventure in Space and Time. In 2021, he received an Annie Award for Best Voice Actor in a Television Series for his work as Merlin in Guillermo del Toro’s animated Netflix series Tales of Arcadia.

An alumnus of the Royal Shakespeare Company, Bradley is also an established stage actor, with a career that includes a Laurence Olivier Award for his role in a production of King Lear and appearing in the Harold Pinter play No Man's Land at the Duke of York's Theatre in the West End.

Early life

Bradley was born in York, where he attended the Catholic St George's Secondary Modern School, where he was a member of the choir. He first performed on stage in musical productions, as a member of a youth club and with the Rowntree Youth Theatre. Upon leaving school, he completed a five-year apprenticeship with the optical instruments maker Cooke, Troughton & Simms and remained with the firm until 1966, when he moved to London to train as an actor at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.[2]


Bradley at the Harry Brown premiere in 2009

Bradley joined the Royal Shakespeare Company and performed at Laurence Olivier's National Theatre Company in the early 1970s.[3] He first appeared on television in 1971, as a police officer in the comedy Nearest and Dearest. He was awarded a Laurence Olivier Award in 1991 for his supporting role as the Fool in King Lear at the Royal National Theatre. He appeared in the Royal National Theatre's 1997 production of The Homecoming, as well as productions of The Caretaker at Sheffield Theatres and the Tricycle Theatre from 2006 to 2007. In 2005 he played the title role in Nicholas Hytner's production of Henry IV Parts One and Two at the Olivier Theatre, London.[4]

Bradley played fictional Labour Member of Parliament Eddie Wells in the 1996 BBC Two serial Our Friends in the North. Also in 1996, he appeared as gangster Alf Black in Band of Gold. In 1998, he appeared in the BBC adaptation of Vanity Fair as the miserly Sir Pitt Crawley, and Our Mutual Friend as the villainous Rogue Riderhood. Other television appearances include the 2001 series The Way We Live Now, directed by David Yates, who would work with Bradley five years later on the Harry Potter films.

From 2002 to 2004, Bradley starred as Jake in the BBC comedy series Wild West. Bradley acted in the 2004 musical drama serial Blackpool on BBC One. He appeared in the 2005 BBC drama Mr. Harvey Lights a Candle, playing a morose coach driver who takes an unruly party of pupils on a trip to Salisbury Cathedral, and the 2006 BBC drama Sweeney Todd. He had a small role in a 2005 episode of the series Taggart. In 2003, he played Tom in the Midsomer Murders episode "The Green Man". He appeared as the electrolarynx-using gangster Stemroach in the BBC comedy series Ideal and as Electric in the BBC's Thieves Like Us, as well as the BBC One series True Dare Kiss in 2007–08.

No Man's Land starring Bradley playing at the Duke of York's Theatre in London’s West End in 2008

Bradley appeared in the 2002 film Nicholas Nickleby which was based on The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens, and had a small role in the 2007 comedy film Hot Fuzz as a farmer who illegally hoards weapons. He played Cohen the Barbarian in a Sky One adaptation of The Colour of Magic in 2008.[5] That same year he appeared as Spooner in a production of Harold Pinter’s No Man's Land at the Gate Theatre, Dublin, which later transferred to London's West End.[6][7]

In 2009, Bradley appeared in Ashes to Ashes, playing an animal rights activist, and in The Street, both on BBC. Bradley portrayed Will Somers, Henry VIII's court fool, in an episode of the Showtime series The Tudors in 2009. In 2010, he appeared in the film Another Year, which earned him a nomination for Best Supporting Actor from the London Film Critics Circle Awards. From 2011 to 2017, Bradley appeared as the villainous Lord Walder Frey in the HBO series Game of Thrones.[8][9][10][11]

Bradley played Solomon, a ruthless buccaneer, in the 2012 Doctor Who episode "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship". He previously provided voice work for The Sarah Jane Adventures serial Death of the Doctor.[12] It was announced in January 2013, that Bradley had been cast as actor William Hartnell in An Adventure in Space and Time, a BBC docudrama about the creation of Doctor Who in 1963. The special aired in November 2013, adding to the buildup to the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who later that month. He also appeared in the first series of Broadchurch, for which he won the BAFTA for “Best Supporting Actor”. In 2013, he also appeared in The World's End, a follow-up to Hot Fuzz in the Three Flavours Cornetto trilogy, this time portraying "Mad" Basil, an eccentric local man from the fictional English town Newton Haven.

From 2014, Bradley played a leading role as Professor Abraham Setrakian, a Holocaust survivor turned vampire hunter in Guillermo del Toro's TV series The Strain.[13] In 2015, Bradley became a public supporter of Chapel Lane Theatre Company based in Stratford-Upon-Avon.[14] In 2017, Bradley joined the cast of Guillermo del Toro’s animated Netflix series Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia playing the role of Merlin. In 2021, he received an Annie Award for Best Voice Actor in a Television Role for his role in the final chapter of the trilogy, Wizards: Tales of Arcadia as the wizard Merlin.

In 2017, in the final episode of the tenth series of Doctor Who, "The Doctor Falls", Bradley returned to portray the First Doctor, having previously portrayed Hartnell, who originally played the character. He reprised the role in the 2017 Christmas special, "Twice Upon a Time",[15][16] in an audio series for Big Finish Productions titled Doctor Who: The First Doctor Adventures alongside his An Adventure in Space and Time cast,[17] and in the immersive theatre show Doctor Who: Time Fracture.[18] This makes him the third actor to play the role in the television programme, after William Hartnell and Richard Hurndall since the premiere of Doctor Who in 1963, and at the age of 75, he is the also the oldest actor to play the role of the Doctor on television.[19] He again played the First Doctor in the final episode of the 2022 specials, "The Power of the Doctor".[20][21]

From 2019 to 2022, Bradley played Ray Johnson, the demented father of Tony (Ricky Gervais) in the Netflix series After Life. In 2021, it was announced that Bradley would be joining the cast of Allelujah, a film adaptation of Alan Bennett's play of the same name directed by Richard Eyre, which will star Jennifer Saunders, Bally Gill, Russell Tovey, Derek Jacobi, and Judi Dench.[22] In 2022, it was announced that Bradley would voice Fowler in Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget.[23]

Personal life

Bradley married his wife Rosanna in 1978. They have three children. His eldest son, George, is an architect, who has featured on the ITV series Love Your Home and Garden alongside Alan Titchmarsh.[24] His daughter, Francesca, works in casting, having worked on Michael Bay's 6 Underground.[25][26] He has said that it was his children who turned his attention to the Harry Potter film franchise and coached him for the role of Argus Filch.[27]

Bradley is the president of Second Thoughts Drama Group, which performs in and around Stratford-upon-Avon.[28] He has received honorary doctorates from the University of Warwick (17 July 2012)[29] and York St John University (19 November 2015).

He is an avid fan of football clubs Aston Villa and York City.[30][31] On 22 November 2014, he took part in a video paying tribute to Aston Villa on their 140th birthday.[32]


Denotes works that have not yet been released


Year Title Role Notes
1979 The Frisco Kid Julius Rosensheine
1987 Prick Up Your Ears Undertaker
1997 Seeing Things Short
1998 Left Luggage Concierge
1999 Tom's Midnight Garden Abel
2000 The King Is Alive Henry
2001 Blow Dry Noah
Gabriel & Me Grandad
Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone Argus Filch
2002 This Is Not a Love Song Mr. Bellamy
Crossings Yorkshire Farmer Short
The Intended The Priest
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets Argus Filch
Nicholas Nickleby Nigel Bray
Pas de Trois Porter Short
2004 Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Argus Filch
Exorcist: The Beginning Father Gionetti
2005 Red Mercury Neil Ashton
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Argus Filch
2006 Lycanthropy Club Owner
2007 Hot Fuzz Arthur Webley
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Argus Filch
2008 The Daisy Chain Sean Cryan
I Know You Know Mr. Fisher
2009 Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince Argus Filch
Harry Brown Leonard Attwell
2010 Another Year Ronnie
2011 Lucy and the Attack of the Malevolon Narrator Short, voice role
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2 Argus Filch
Captain America: The First Avenger Church Keeper
The Holding Cooper
2013 The World's End "Mad" Basil
2016 The Young Messiah Old Rabbi
Broadcast Signal Intrusion James' Father Short
2017 The Lodgers Bermingham
Edmund the Magnificent Farmer Short
2018 Await Further Instructions Grandad
2020 Doctors Assemble The First Doctor Short, voice role
2021 Roy Roy Short
Jolt Gareth Fizel
Emily the Little Match Girl Harry Smith
2022 Allelujah Joe Colman
Catherine Called Birdy Lord Gideon Sidebottom
Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio Mister Geppetto Voice role
Your Christmas or Mine? Jack
2023 Chicken Run: Dawn of the Nugget Fowler Voice role
Your Christmas or Mine 2 Jack
Good Grief Duncan
TBA Frankenstein Filming


Year Title Role Notes
1971 Nearest and Dearest 2nd Policeman Episode: "Barefaced in the Park"
A Family at War Colin Woodcock Recurring role
1972 ITV Sunday Night Theatre Parker Street Goalie Episode: "Another Sunday and Sweet F.A"
Thirty-Minute Theatre The Evangelist Episode: "That Quiet Earth"
1976 Bill Brand Peter Malone Episode: "August for the Party"
1978 The Professionals Tony Kristo Episode: "Close Quarters"
1980 Coronation Street Detective Sergeant Simms 1 episode
1981 Play for Today Communist speaker Episode: "The Union"
BBC2 Playhouse Wike Episode: "Clapperclaw"
Barman Episode: "Findings on a Late Afternoon"
1982 Frost in May Rambler Episode: "The Lost Traveller"
1983 Tartuffe, or The Imposter Cleante TV film
1985 One by One Mr. Fazakerly Episode: "To Hear the Sea Maid's Music"
Theatre Night Charron Episode: "Molière"
1986 King of the Ghetto Ralph Mini-series
1989 Shadow of the Noose Edward Lawrence Episode: "Gun in Hand"
The Play on One Harry Episode: "A Master of the Marionettes"
1992 ScreenPlay Mr. Preach Episode: "Bad Girl"
Between the Lines Sergeant Harry Ross Episode: "Lies and Damned Lies"
1993 Full Stretch Don Naylor Episode: "Deals on Wheels"
The Buddha of Suburbia Helen's Father Mini-series
1994 Screen Two Headmaster Episode: "Criminal"
Performance Barnadine Episode: "Measure for Measure"
Martin Chuzzlewit David Crimple Mini-series
1995 The Vet Dick Sims Episode: "Relative Values"
Casualty Stanmore Episode: "Hit and Run"
1996 A Touch of Frost Les James Episode: "Unknown Soldiers"
Band of Gold Alf Episode: "Hustling"
Our Friends in the North Eddie Wells Series regular
Wycliffe Joe Mawnan Episode: "Total Loss"
In Your Dreams Tutor TV film
Cracker Frank Carter Episode: "White Ghost"
Kiss and Tell Superintendent Hines TV film
1997 Reckless Arnold Springer Series regular
Bramwell Charles Matthews 1 episode
The Moth Dave Waters TV film
1998 Our Mutual Friend Rogue Riderhood Mini-series
Where the Heart Is Derek Woodford Episode: "She Goes On"
Reckless: The Movie Arnold Springer TV film
Vanity Fair Sir Pitt Crawley Mini-series
The Canterbury Tales January Animated series, voice role
1999 Doomwatch: Winter Angel Angel TV film, voice role
2000 The Wilsons Ray Wilson Series regular
Black Cab Gerald Episode: "Marriage Guidance"
2001 Shades Alan Roberts Mini-series
Station Jim Elliot TV film
Murphy's Law Hatcher Snr. TV film
The Way We Live Now Mr. Broune Mini-series
Sweet Dreams Jim TV film
2002–2004 Wild West Old Jake Trethowan Series regular
2003 The Mayor of Casterbridge Councillor Vatt TV film
Midsomer Murders Tom Episode: "The Green Man"
Charles II: The Power and the Passion Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey 1 episode
Blue Dove Max Turnbull Mini-series
Murphy's Law Hatcher Snr. Episode: "Pilot"
2004 Blackpool Hallworth Mini-series
2005 Mr. Harvey Lights a Candle Archie TV film
2006 Sweeney Todd Sweeney's Father TV film
Taggart Elijah Buckland Episode: "Law"
2006–2008 Ideal Stemroach Recurring role
2007 Thieves Like Us Electric Recurring role
True Dare Kiss Stanley Tyler Recurring role
2008 The Colour of Magic Cohen the Barbarian Episode: "Part 2: The Light Fantastic"
The Invisibles 'Knacker' Locke Mini-series
2009 The Tudors Will (Court Fool) Episode: "Problems in the Reformation"
Ashes to Ashes Robin Elliot 1 episode
The Street Joe Episode: "Meet the Parents"
2010 Arena Various roles Episode: "Harold Pinter: A Celebration"
Five Daughters Patrick Palmer Mini-series
New Tricks Simon Beswick/John Plummer Episode: "Dead Man Talking"
The Sarah Jane Adventures Shansheeth Blue Episode: "Death of the Doctor"
2011 Waking the Dead George Barlow Episode: "Waterloo"
2011–2017 Game of Thrones Walder Frey Recurring role
2012 Doctor Who Solomon Episode: "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship"
Eternal Law Mack Steen 1 episode
Benidorm Stan Garvey 1 episode
The Hollow Crown Gardener Episode: "Richard II"
Bad Education Ennis Episode: "School Trip"
World Without End Brother Joseph Recurring role
Bad Sugar Ralphfred Cauldwell TV film
2012–2013 Prisoners' Wives Frank Recurring role
2012–2014 Mount Pleasant Charlie Series regular
2013 Broadchurch Jack Marshall Recurring role
An Adventure in Space and Time William Hartnell TV film
2014 Silk LJ Reynolds 1 episode
2014–2017 The Strain Abraham Setrakian Series regular
2016 Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands Gorrik 1 episode
Medici Bardi Episode: "The Dome and the Domicile"
2017, 2022 Doctor Who First Doctor 3 episodes ("Twice Upon a Time" and "The Power of the Doctor"); cameo in "The Doctor Falls"; replaced William Hartnell
2017–2019 Trollhunters: Tales of Arcadia Merlin Series regular, voice role
2018 Hang Ups Frank Ellerby 1 episode
2018–2019 Les Misérables Gillenormand Series regular
Britannia Quane Series regular
2019–2022 After Life Ray Johnson Series regular
2020 Gangs of London Jim 1 episode
Wizards: Tales of Arcadia Merlin Animated series, voice role
Mandy Frank Episode: "Meat"
2021 Adventure Time: Distant Lands Old Finn Episode: "Together Again", voice role
2022 The Responder Davey 2 episodes
2024 Coma Harry 2 episodes

Music video

Year Title Artist
2023 "Wish You the Best" Lewis Capaldi


Year Title Role Notes
2021 Doctor Who: Time Fracture First Doctor Pre-recorded video


  1. ^ "Birth details at freebmd.org.uk". freebmd.org.uk. 31 December 2011. Retrieved 1 January 2012.
  2. ^ "David Bradley Interview: From a York childhood to Doctor Who". Archived from the original on 12 June 2015. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  3. ^ "NATIONAL THEATRE: 1970s". ROB WILTON THEATRICALIA. Archived from the original on 20 July 2011. Retrieved 25 July 2011.
  4. ^ Billington, Michael (5 May 2005). "Henry IV Parts One and Two Review". The Guardian. Retrieved 29 June 2019.
  5. ^ Laws, Roz (15 June 2007). "Harry Potter and the Magical Midlanders". Sunday Mercury. Trinity Mirror. Retrieved 25 February 2009.
  6. ^ Michael Coveney (9 October 2008). "No Man's Land (Duke of York's)". What's on Stage. whatsonstage.com. Archived from the original on 11 October 2008. Retrieved 23 October 2008.
  7. ^ BWW News Desk (10 November 2008). "Photo Flash: NO MAN'S LAND at the Duke of York....Photos by Jeremy Whelehan". BroadwayWorld.com. Wisdom Digital Media. Retrieved 11 November 2008.
  8. ^ Martin, George R. R. (24 November 2010). "wedding guest". Retrieved 24 November 2010.
  9. ^ "'Game of Thrones' actor 'loved' doing Red Wedding scene". nydailynews.com. Retrieved 28 September 2016.
  10. ^ "David Bradley | United Agents". www.unitedagents.co.uk. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  11. ^ "Game of Thrones season 7: release date, cast, trailers, spoilers & more". NME. 18 January 2017. Retrieved 18 January 2017.
  12. ^ "Other Series 7 stars announced". Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 18 September 2012.
  13. ^ Ng, Philiana (21 November 2013). "FX's 'The Strain' Casts 'Harry Potter's' David Bradley to Replace John Hurt". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
  14. ^ Harvey-Ball, Thom (23 March 2015). "New Supporter – David Bradley!". Archived from the original on 2 April 2015.
  15. ^ Reporters, Telegraph (1 July 2017). "First look pictures of the First and Twelfth Doctors together in the Doctor Who Christmas special". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  16. ^ Gill, James (1 July 2017). "New Doctor Who Christmas special pictures tease history-making reunion for Peter Capaldi's Doctor". The Telegraph. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  17. ^ "David Bradley returns to the TARDIS in Doctor Who - The First Doctor Adventures! - News - Big Finish". www.bigfinish.com. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  18. ^ Warner, Sam (27 April 2021). "Doctor Who announces John Barrowman and David Bradley for Time Fracture show". Digital Spy. Retrieved 9 May 2021.
  19. ^ Martin, Dan (1 July 2017). "Doctor Who recap: series 36 finale – The Doctor Falls". The Guardian. Retrieved 1 July 2017.
  20. ^ "BBC One - Doctor Who, The Power of the Doctor". BBC. Retrieved 13 October 2022.
  21. ^ "Doctor Who trailer revealed for Jodie Whittaker's epic final episode". Radio Times. 17 April 2022. Retrieved 14 October 2022.
  22. ^ "Crowds Throng U.K.-Wide BFI London Film Festival – Global Bulletin". 25 October 2021.
  23. ^ "New 'Wallace & Gromit' Film in Works From Aardman/Netflix; 'Chicken Run 2' Cast and Title Unveiled". The Hollywood Reporter. 20 January 2022.
  24. ^ "Love Your Home and Garden (ITV) - Eltham – byBradley Van Der Straeten". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  25. ^ "Francesca Bradley". IMDb.
  26. ^ "6 Underground (2019)". IMDb.
  27. ^ Rees, Jasper (8 December 2017). "David Bradley interview: 'JK Rowling told me I was fabulously foul'". The Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 January 2022. Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  28. ^ Second Thoughts Our President for several years now has been David Bradley.
  29. ^ "Honorary Graduates 2012". warwick.ac.uk. 5 July 2012. Retrieved 18 July 2012.
  30. ^ "Harry Potter star Bradley: Villa Park is truly magical". Avfc.co.uk. 14 November 2011. Archived from the original on 17 January 2012. Retrieved 11 March 2012.
  31. ^ "Potter star is potty over York City". Retrieved 21 July 2020.
  32. ^ "BAFTA-winner David Bradley on Villa's 140 years". Aston Villa. 22 November 2014. Archived from the original on 1 December 2014. Retrieved 22 November 2014.