David Threlfall
David John Threlfall[1][2]

(1953-10-12) 12 October 1953 (age 68)
OccupationActor, director
Years active1977–present
(m. 1995)

David John Threlfall (born 12 October 1953) is an English stage, film and television actor and director. He is best known for playing Frank Gallagher in Channel 4's series Shameless. He has also directed several episodes of the show. In April 2014, he portrayed comedian Tommy Cooper in a television film entitled Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This. In 2014, he starred alongside Jude Law in the thriller Black Sea.

Early life

The son of a plumber, Tommy Threlfall and his wife, Joyce Foulds, David was born in Crumpsall, Manchester, Lancashire. The family lived in Blackley then moved to the Bradford area of Manchester and then Burnage when he was 8/9.[4] His introduction to drama came from school and two English teachers, at Wilbraham High School, where he was a contemporary of the younger Lorraine Ashbourne.

He studied at Art college in Sheffield (now Sheffield Hallam University), but only stayed for a year. A few months of labouring and thinking followed. Then, having consulted a magazine in a public library which listed drama colleges, Threlfall successfully applied to Manchester Polytechnic School of Drama. By graduation, he had an audition with Mike Leigh.[5]

Threlfall has been a supporter of Manchester City since childhood and is the voice over for the film played before every home game during the 2017-18 season.[6]


Threlfall graduated from the Manchester Polytechnic School of Theatre. He has notched up a wide range of film and television credits since his 1977 acting debut in "The Kiss of Death" (Mike Leigh). Was in the original Play for Today version of the film Scum as the eloquent Archer.[7] Television appearances include Trevor in Mike Leigh's 1977 made-for-TV film Kiss of Death, Leslie Titmuss in Paradise Postponed, Edgar in the Granada Television production of King Lear (1983) opposite Laurence Olivier in the title role. He also had regular roles in the situation comedies Nightingales and Men of the World, and guest appearances in dramas such as Cutting It, The Knock, CI5: The New Professionals and Spooks. He played Prince Charles in Diana: Her True Story (1993) and his father Prince Philip in The Queen's Sister (2005). Threlfall played the central character of Frank Gallagher in Paul Abbott's Shameless, shown on Channel 4 for 11 series between 2004 and 2013.

He also played the role of Friedrich Kritzinger in the BBC/HBO drama Conspiracy, a dramatisation of the infamous Wannsee Conference. In 2006, he played the domineering husband of wartime diarist Nella Last, in the TV drama Housewife, 49. Film credits include John le Carré's The Russia House, Patriot Games, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Elizabeth: The Golden Age, alongside Cate Blanchett, and Nowhere Boy in which he took the part of John Lennon's Uncle George.

He also had a small role in the 2006 film Alien Autopsy and played the character Martin Blower in the 2007 film Hot Fuzz, acting alongside Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. He starred in an episode of The Whistle Blowers. He starred as the lead role in the fifth episode of the BBC docu-drama series Ancient Rome: The Rise and Fall of an Empire as the Emperor Constantine I.

Threlfall voiced the part of Iago in Othello for the Arcangel audio production of same. He also voiced the detective Paolo Baldi in BBC Radio 4's Baldi.[8] He also read Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness for a radio adaptation. In 1980, he played Smike in the eight-hour stage version of The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby for the Royal Shakespeare Company in both London and New York.

Other notable stage performances include Riddley Walker, Oedipus, Macbeth, Your Home In The West and Peer Gynt at the Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, Bolingbroke in Richard II and Orgon in Tartuffe at the National Theatre in London. Threlfall played Jack in When the Whales Came (1989), opposite Paul Scofield and Helen Mirren. In 2010, he appeared as a guest on Have I Got News for You.

In 2013, he played retired London detective Len Harper in the short murder mystery BBC series What Remains alongside Russell Tovey and Amber Rose Revah.[9]

In March 2016, he appeared as the lead in Don Quixote, at the Swan Theatre, Stratford for the Royal Shakespeare Company. The play was revived in 2018 at the Garrick Theatre in London.

Awards and honours

Threlfall was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from Manchester Metropolitan University on 15 July 2013. An Honorary Doctorate from Sheffield Hallam University in 2014. He has a SWET (Olivier) Award, a TONY and EMMY Nomination, The Clarence Derwent Award, 5 RTS Awards and a BAFTA for Housewife49 with Victoria Wood.[10]

Personal life

Threlfall has been married to Bosnian actress Brana Bajic since 1995.[11] They met in 1994, whilst working on The Count of Monte Cristo at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester.[11] They have two children.

Threlfall has said that despite his Shameless character being a chain smoker, in real life he is a non-smoker who has a dislike for nicotine.[12]



Year Title Role
1990 The Russia House Wicklow
1992 Patriot Games Inspector Robert Highland
2003 Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World Preserved Killick
2006 Alien Autopsy Jeffrey (Film restorer)
2007 Hot Fuzz Martin Blower
Elizabeth: The Golden Age John Dee
2009 Nowhere Boy George Smith
2014 Black Sea Peters


Year Title Role
1977 Scum Archer
1982 The Life and Adventures of Nicholas Nickleby Smike
1986 Paradise Postponed Leslie Titmuss
1989 Frederick Forsyth Presents: A Casualty of War Tom Rowse
1990–1993 Nightingales "Ding Dong" Bell
1991 Titmuss Regained Leslie Titmuss
A Murder of Quality Stanley Rode
1994-1995 Men of the World Lenny Smart
2000 Catherine Cookson's A Dinner of Herbs Hal Royston
2001 Conspiracy Dr Friedrich Wilhelm Kritzinger
2004–2013 Shameless Frank Gallagher
2006 Housewife, 49 William Last
2013 What Remains DI Len Harper
2014 Tommy Cooper: Not Like That, Like This Tommy Cooper
2015 The Ark Noah
Code of a Killer Detective David Baker
2015/2016 Midwinter of the Spirit[13] Rev Huw Owen
2016 Ripper Street Abel Croker
2018 Troy: Fall of a City Priam
2019 Bing Flop (voice)
2020 Isolation Stories Grandad



  1. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Birth Index, 1916-2007
  2. ^ England & Wales, Civil Registration Marriage Index, 1916-2005
  3. ^ Gerard Gilbert (28 March 2015). "David Threlfall interview: The actor takes a forensic approach in Code of a Killer as he leaves Shameless's Frank Gallagher behind". The Independent. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  4. ^ Jury, Louise (6 January 2007). "David Threlfall: Frank, in more than one sense". The Independent. UK. Archived from the original on 6 April 2009. Retrieved 7 June 2011.
  5. ^ "David Threlfall: I drive directors nuts, I'm a bit of a handful'". BelfastTelegraph.co.uk. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 5 December 2017.
  6. ^ Celebrity fans: David Threlfall, FourFourTwo.com
  7. ^ Pryor, Cathy, David Threlfall: Being Frank and Shameless, Independent.co.uk, 7 January 2007
  8. ^ BALDI SERIES 4, BBC.co.uk
  9. ^ "BBC - Q&A with Amber Rose Revah - Media Centre". www.bbc.co.uk. Retrieved 29 March 2018.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 23 February 2016. Retrieved 15 February 2016.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ a b Elkin, Susan, Art of the shapeshifter — David Threlfall, TheStage.co.uk, 6 May 2004
  12. ^ "Celebrity news: gossip, pictures & video". Mirror.co.uk. 27 May 2017. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  13. ^ Fletcher, Harry (7 April 2015). "David Threlfall, Anna Maxwell-Martin for ITV's Midwinter of the Spirit". Digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 8 July 2017.
  14. ^ Murray, Braham (2007). The Worst It Can Be Is a Disaster. London: Methuen Drama. ISBN 978-0-7136-8490-2.
  15. ^ The Royal Exchange Theatre Company Words & Pictures 1976-1998, 1998, ISBN 0-9512017-1-9