Jack Shepherd
Born (1940-10-29) 29 October 1940 (age 81)
OccupationActor, writer
Years active1965–present
Spouse(s)Judy Harland (divorced)
Ann Scott
(m. 1975)
Children5, including Catherine

Jack Shepherd (born 29 October 1940) is an English actor, playwright, theatre director, saxophone player and jazz pianist. He is known for his television roles, most notably the title role in Trevor Griffiths' series about a young Labour MP Bill Brand (1976), and the detective drama Wycliffe (1993–1998). His film appearances include All Neat in Black Stockings (1969), Wonderland (1999) and The Golden Compass (2007). He won the 1983 Olivier Award for Best Actor in a New Play for the original production of Glengarry Glen Ross.


Early life

Shepherd attended Roundhay School in Leeds and then studied fine art at Kings College, Newcastle University. During his time in Newcastle he was an amateur actor with the People's Theatre. After gaining a BA he went on to study acting, first at the Central School of Speech and Drama and then as a student founder of the Drama Centre London.

He married Judy Harland; they had 2 children together, Jan and Jake. They later divorced.

In 1975 he married Ann Scott, television and film producer. Their children are Victoria, Catherine and Ben.


He worked at the Royal Court Theatre from 1965 to 1969, making his first appearance on the London stage as an Officer of Dragoons in Serjeant Musgrave's Dance. In July 1967 he played Arnold Middleton in David Storey's The Restoration of Arnold Middleton, which transferred to the Criterion Theatre, a performance for which he received the Plays and Players London Critics' Award as most promising actor of the year. In 1969 he starred in the satirical comedy series World in Ferment.[1]

During the 1970s he appeared in many television dramas, including several appearances in the series Budgie (1971–72). In Ready When You Are, Mr McGill (1976) by Jack Rosenthal he played a television director struggling to maintain his composure during a doomed location shoot, and in Trevor Griffiths's Thames TV series Bill Brand (also 1976) a radical Labour MP. Both performances gained Shepherd Royal Television Society (RTS) Awards. He appeared as Renfield in Count Dracula (1977), with Louis Jourdan in the title role.

Shepherd also spent the decade running a drama studio in Kentish Town, north London along with fellow actor Richard Wilson, and during that time became interested in scriptwriting. He devised several plays for the theatre including The Sleep of Reason, Real Time, Clapperclaw and Half Moon.

In 1972 he was a founding member, along with Ian McKellen and Edward Petherbridge, of the democratically run Actors' Company, playing Vasques in 'Tis Pity She's a Whore, Inspector of Police in Ruling the Roost (Edinburgh Festival and tour) and Okano in The Three Arrows at the Arts, Cambridge in October 1972. In December 1972 he played Ben in David Mercer's Let's Murder Vivaldi at The King's Head Theatre, and in January 1973 took the title role in Dracula at the Bush Theatre, also collaborating in the writing. His television work in the 70s included All Good Men, Through the Night and Occupations, all by Trevor Griffiths From 1977 to 1985 he was a member of Bill Bryden's Cottesloe Theatre Company at the National Theatre, playing Teach in American Buffalo, Judas in The Passion, Boamer in Lark Rise, Thomas Clarkeson in The World Turned Upside Down, Smitty in The Long Voyage Home, The Correspondent in Dispatches and Hickey in The Iceman Cometh. Shepherd originated the stage role of Richard Roma in Glengarry Glen Ross at the Cottesloe in 1983, for which he received a Society of West End Theatre award (later known as the Laurence Olivier Awards) as Actor of the Year in a New Play.

His first written work for the stage was In Lambeth, an imaginary conversation about revolution between the poet and artist William Blake, his wife Catherine and Thomas Paine, author of The Rights of Man. He first directed it at the Partisan Theatre in July 1989 before its transfer to the Donmar Warehouse, winning the 1989 Time Out Awards for Best Directing and Best Writing.

Shepherd's work in television during the 1980s and 1990s included "Blind Justice", a miniseries by Peter Flannery, and culminated in his acclaimed role as the eponymous Detective Superintendent Charles Wycliffe in the HTV television series Wycliffe from 1993 to 1998. He appeared as Butler the Butler in the 1996 television miniseries Over Here.[2][3]

As a theatre director he has staged several productions at the Shakespeare's Globe, including his lively 'Prologue Production' of The Two Gentlemen of Verona starring Mark Rylance as Proteus, which opened the Globe to the theatregoing public in August 1996, a year before the formal opening Gala. In 1998 at the Globe he played a sad Antonio in Richard Olivier's production of The Merchant of Venice.

Shepherd's epic drama about the Chartist movement, Holding Fire! was commissioned by the Shakespeare's Globe Theatre as part of its Renaissance and Revolution season, and was first staged there by Mark Rosenblatt in August 2007.[4]

He played the part of the Father in Rupert Goold's production of Six Characters in Search of an Author in 2009, the Doctor in The Master Builder at the Almeida, and Melchior, one of the Magi, in the four-part TV drama The Nativity, broadcast on BBC One in December 2010. He played Ralph Palmer (from a 1980s case) in the 2011 episode "Solidarity” of TV series Waking the Dead. In 2013 he played Harry in "Home" by David Storey at the Arcola Theatre and Joe in the BBC TV seriesThe Politician's Husband. In 2014 Serebryakov in "Uncle Vanya at the St James Theatre. Also in 2014/15 he toured in 3 ghost stories, Whistle and I'll Come to You, and The Signalman for Middleground Theatre Company, and in 2015/6 with the same company he toured in a stage adaptation of the film The Verdict. 2017/2018 he played Art Hockstadder in Gore Vidal's play The Best Man, first on tour and then at the Playhouse Theatre London.

His interest in community theatre led to adaptations of "Dorian Gray" and of Hardy's "Under the Greenwood Tree" for the Players Collective in Lewes. His version of "Under the Greenwood Tree" was performed by the Hardy Players in Dorchester in Dec 2016.

He has written and directed a new play, The Cutting Edge, which runs at the Arcola Theatre Feb-Mar 2020.


Plays by Jack Shepherd include:

Co-wrote with Keith Dewhurst "Impossible Plays", an account of his years in Bill Bryden's Cottesloe Company at the National Theatre. Published by Methuen.

His two recently completed plays are Against the Tide, about William Morris, and The Valley of the Shadow, about World War I.


Further reading


  1. ^ Marjorie Bilbow (3 July 1969). "TELEVISION TODAY; Reviews: In a rare class of comedy show". The Stage and Television Today (4603): 12.
  2. ^ "Over Here (TV Movie 1996) - IMDb". IMDb.
  3. ^ "Over Here - BBC1 Comedy Drama".
  4. ^ Holding Fire! – Times Online