Samuel Barnett
Barnett at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1980-04-25) 25 April 1980 (age 43)
Alma materLondon Academy of Music and Dramatic Art
Years active2001–present
PartnerAdam Penford

Samuel Barnett (born 25 April 1980) is an English actor. He has performed on stage, film, television and radio and achieved recognition for his work on the stage and film versions of The History Boys by Alan Bennett. His television performances include roles in the BBC comedy Twenty Twelve and in the Showtime drama Penny Dreadful. He played the lead role of Dirk Gently in Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency, the 2016 BBC America adaptation of the book series by Douglas Adams.

Early life

Barnett was born in Whitby, North Yorkshire, on 25 April 1980.[1] He has four siblings. His mother comes from a Quaker background whilst his father was descended from Polish Jews.[2] He started performing at an early age before moving to London to study acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA).


Barnett appeared in the original London stage production of Alan Bennett's 2004 play The History Boys, as well as in the New York, Sydney, Wellington and Hong Kong productions and radio and film versions of the play.[3][4][5][6] He had been involved in The History Boys from its very first reading.[7]

In 2009 Barnett played John Everett Millais in the BBC series Desperate Romantics and Joseph Severn in the film Bright Star. He appeared at the National Theatre in Women Beware Women by Thomas Middleton, which ran from 20 April to 4 July 2010. From July 2012 he appeared in an all-male-cast as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare's Richard III at Shakespeare's Globe in London alongside Mark Rylance in the title role, also playing the role of Sebastian in Twelfth Night. The production transferred to the Apollo Theatre in the West End, opening on 2 November 2012 and running for a limited engagement.[8] Both Twelfth Night and Richard III transferred to Broadway in 2013 and played at the Belasco Theatre until February 2014. In the Broadway productions Barnett reprised his role as Elizabeth Woodville in Richard III and took on the role of Viola (previously played by Johnny Flynn in London) in Twelfth Night.[9][10] In July 2018 Barnett reunited with History Boys playwright Alan Bennett and co-star Sacha Dhawan for Bennett's new play, Allelujah!, at the Bridge Theatre.[11]

In 2022 at the Edinburgh Fringe, Barnett performed a one-man show Feeling Afraid as If Something Terrible Is Going to Happen written by Marcelo dos Santos. [12] In late 2023, Barnett performed this at the Bush Theatre in London. [13]

Recognition and awards

Barnett was nominated for the Evening Standard Theatre Award as Most Promising Newcomer for his role in The Marriage of Figaro in 2002. He won Best Newcomer and Best Supporting Actor in a play at the Theatregoers Choice Awards for his work on the original production of The History Boys.[3] He was nominated for the 29th annual Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role.[14] He won a Drama Desk Award and was nominated for a Tony Award for his work on the Broadway production.[15][16]

Barnett was nominated for the 2006 British Independent Film Award for Most Promising Newcomer (On Screen) for his work on the film version of The History Boys.[17]

In 2014 Barnett received a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his work in Twelfth Night.[18]

In 2022 Barnett received the Stage Edinburgh Award for excellence in acting for his role in the solo-show Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen.[19]

Personal life

Barnett is gay and in a relationship with theatre director Adam Penford.[20] In 2020 his father died from COVID-19.[21][22]



Year Title Role Venue
2002 The Accrington Pals[1] Reggie Minerva Theatre, Chichester
The Marriage of Figaro[1] Cherubino Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
2003-04 His Dark Materials Pantalaimon Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre, South Bank
2004-06 The History Boys Posner Lyttelton Theatre, Royal National Theatre, South Bank (2004–5)
Lyric Theatre, The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts (2006)
St. James Theatre, Wellington (2006)
Sydney Theatre, Sydney (2006)
Broadhurst Theatre, Broadway (2006)
2005 When You Cure Me[1] Peter Bush Theatre, London
2007-08 Dealer's Choice Carl Menier Chocolate Factory and Trafalgar Studios, London
2010 The Whisky Taster[23] Barney Bush Theatre, London
The Man Man Finborough Theatre, London
Women Beware Women[24] Leantio Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre, South Bank
2011 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead Rosencrantz Chichester Festival Theatre and Theatre Royal Haymarket
66 Books St. Paul Bush Theatre, London
2012 The Way of the World Witwoud Crucible Theatre, Sheffield
Richard III Elizabeth Woodville Shakespeare's Globe and Apollo Theatre, London
Twelfth Night Sebastian Shakespeare's Globe and Apollo Theatre, London
2013-14 Richard III Elizabeth Woodville Belasco Theatre, Broadway
Twelfth Night Viola Belasco Theatre, Broadway
2015 The Beaux' Stratagem Aimwell Olivier Theatre, Royal National Theatre, South Bank
2018 Allelujah! Colin Bridge Theatre,
2018 Kiss of the Spider Woman Molina Menier Chocolate Factory, London
2021 Medium: A Magical Reckoning[25]
2022 Straight Line Crazy Ariel Porter Bridge Theatre
Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen The Comedian Roundabout Theatre @ Summerhall, Edinburgh Festival
2023 Rock Follies [26] (Adaptation of the TV series.) Harry Chichester Festival Theatre
2024 Ben and Imo Ben Swan Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon


Year Title Role Network Notes
2001 Coupling sex shop assistant BBC Series 2 Episode 2 "My Dinner in Hell"
2002 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Brian Byrne BBC Series 1 Episode 1 "Well-Schooled in Murder"
2002-03 Strange Doddington BBC
2003 Doctors Charlie Ambrose BBC Series 5 Episode 153 "All an Illusion"
The Royal Joe Steeples ITV Series 3 Episode 5 "Poison"
2006 American Experience Philip Hamilton's schoolmate PBS Series 19, Episode 15 "Alexander Hamilton"
2007 Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance Tale Wilfred Owen BBC
John Adams Thomas Boylston Adams HBO
2008 Beautiful People Adult Simon Doonan / narrator BBC
Crooked House Billy BBC
2009 Desperate Romantics John Millais BBC
Beautiful People: Series 2 Adult Simon Doonan / narrator BBC
Agatha Christie's Marple[27] Sergeant Tiddler ITV "The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side"
2011 Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps Leonard BBC
Shakespeare in Italy Romeo Montague BBC
2012 Twenty Twelve Danny BBC
2015 Vicious Young Stuart ITV
2015 Not Safe for Work Nathanial Channel 4
2016 Endeavour Anthony Donn ITV
2016 Penny Dreadful Renfield Showtime
2016-17 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency Dirk Gently BBC America
2021 Four Lives Ryan Edwards BBC
2022 Murder In Provence Didier Laurent ITV
2022 Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Delamain AI (voice) [28] Netflix


Year Title Role
2005 Mrs Henderson Presents Paul
2006 The History Boys Posner
2009 Bright Star Joseph Severn
2012 Love Tomorrow Cal
2015 Jupiter Ascending Advocate Bob
2015 The Lady in the Van Out of work actor
2020 The Act Matthews
2023 Lee Cecil Beaton


Year Title Role Station Notes
2004 Fighting for Words[29][30] Thomas Moynihan BBC Radio 4
2005 The History Boys[31] Posner BBC Radio 3
When You Cure Me[32] Peter BBC Radio 3
2007 Down and Out in Paris and London[33] George Orwell BBC Radio 4
2008 The Babington Plot[34] Thomas Salisbury BBC Radio 4
2009 The Quest Mordred BBC Radio 4
Joan of Arc, and How She Became a Saint[35] Dauphin of France BBC Radio 4
Turing's Test[36] Alan Turing Made in Manchester
2010 Spitfire Tony BBC Radio 4
Translations[37] Yolland BBC Radio 4
I, Claudius[38] Caligula BBC Radio 4
A Tiny Bit Marvellous Oscar BBC Radio 4
2011 Wuthering Heights Edgar Linton/Linton Heathcliff BBC Radio 3
My Week With Marilyn Colin Clark (narrator) BBC Radio 4
2012 Dickens' London Charles Dickens BBC Radio 4
The Voysey Inheritance Edward Voysey BBC Radio 3
2013 Tosca's Kiss Rospo BBC Radio 3
Jill John Kemp BBC Radio 4
Denmark Hill Charles BBC Radio 4
Sometimes into the Arms of God[39] Cecil Beaton BBC Radio 4
2018 The Case of Charles Dexter Ward[40] Charles Dexter Ward BBC Radio 4

Audio drama

Year Title Role Company
2009 Doctor Who: The Beast of Orlok Hans Big Finish
2016 Doctor Who: Nightshade Robin Yeadon
2016– Torchwood Norton Folgate
2016 The Confessions of Dorian Gray Staurt Knight
2017–18 Cicero Cicero
2017 Hamlet Laertes
2019 Doctor Who: Tartarus Cicero


Year Title Notes
2006 The History Boys Performer: "L'Accordéoniste", "Bewitched", "Bye Bye Blackbird"

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2020 Amnesia: Rebirth Richard Fairchild Voice[41]
2020 Cyberpunk 2077 Delamain AI Voice[42]
2020 Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition Gael'gar Voice[43]
2022 Elden Ring Brother Corhyn Voice[44]


  1. ^ a b c d "20 Questions With...Samuel Barnett". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  2. ^ "Samuel Barnett: first the Olympics, now for a run in the West End - The Jewish Chronicle". Archived from the original on 1 December 2017.
  3. ^ a b "National Theatre : Productions : The History Boys 2004". Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  4. ^ "The History Boys – Arts Reviews – Arts – Entertainment". The Sydney Morning Herald. 9 March 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  5. ^ "John Smythe: theatre reviews: NZIAF-The History Boys: More is more". Archived from the original on 30 September 2007. Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  6. ^ "Genesis Foundation – Samuel Barnett (Class of 2001)". Retrieved 14 October 2006.
  7. ^ Bennett, Alan; Hytner, Nicholas (2006). The History Boys The Film. London: Forelake Ltd. p. viii. ISBN 0-571-23173-X.
  8. ^ "Twelfth Night Overview". Archived from the original on 30 October 2012.
  9. ^ Eberhard, Emmitt (8 February 2014). "Two Plays In Repertory On A Rotating Schedule See One, See Both!". Shakespeare on Broadway. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  10. ^ Eberhard, Emmitt (8 February 2014). "CASTS". Shakespeare on Broadway. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  11. ^ Billington, Michael (18 July 2018). "Allelujah! review – Alan Bennett's hospital drama is full of quiet anger". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  12. ^ Wiegand, Chris (16 August 2022). "Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going to Happen review – seriously funny". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  13. ^ "Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going To Happen Tickets". London Theatre. 20 November 2023. Retrieved 9 March 2024.
  14. ^ Wolf, Matt (23 January 2005). "Big musicals score lion's share of Olivier noms". Variety. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  15. ^ "2006 – Drama Desk Awards – Press Releases". Archived from the original on 12 October 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  16. ^ "The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards – Official Website by IBM". Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  17. ^ "British Independent Film Awards Announce Nominations". 26 October 2006. Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2006.
  18. ^ "Tony Award Winners 2014 — Full List". Variety. 8 June 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  19. ^ Wiegand, Chris (16 August 2022). "Feeling Afraid As If Something Terrible Is Going to Happen review – seriously funny". The Guardian. Retrieved 16 August 2022.
  20. ^ Bernstein, Jacob (12 February 2014). "Samuel Barnett Discusses His Female Roles in Shakespeare's 'Twelfth Night' and 'Richard III'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 8 January 2017.
  21. ^ "Culture in Lockdown: Samuel Barnett – 'I am grateful for the space lockdown gave me'". The Stage. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  22. ^ "'I want to do things I've never done': The History Boys' Samuel Barnett on his new one-man show". The Guardian. 16 August 2022.
  23. ^ "The Whisky Taster Reviews at the Bush Theatre". Archived from the original on 10 October 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  24. ^ "Productions: Women Beware Women". Archived from the original on 30 April 2010. Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  25. ^ "Samuel Barnett brings Medium - A Magical Reckoning to Riverside Studios". West End Best Friend. Retrieved 11 April 2022.
  26. ^ "Rock Follies". Chichester Festival Theatre. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  27. ^ "Stellar casting for new Marple film (ITV press release, 05.08.2009)". Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  28. ^ "Cyberpunk 2077 (Video Game 2020)". IMDb.
  29. ^ "Fighting for Words radio listing". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  30. ^ Daoust, Phil (28 January 2005). "Pick of the day". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  31. ^ "BBC Radio 3 – Drama on 3 – The History Boys". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  32. ^ "BBC Radio 3 – Drama on 3 – When You Cure Me". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  33. ^ "BBC – Radio 4 – the Classic Serial". Retrieved 20 April 2007.
  34. ^ "LocateTV – The Babington Plot". Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  35. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play – Joan of Arc, and How She Became a Saint". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  36. ^ "Download "Turing's Test": an exclusive new radio play". The Independent Online. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  37. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play – Translations". Retrieved 4 September 2010.
  38. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – I, Claudius". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  39. ^ "BBC Radio 4 – Afternoon Drama – James Lees-Milne". Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  40. ^ "BBC Radio 4 - The Case of Charles Dexter Ward". Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  41. ^ "Amnesia: Rebirth (Video Game 2020)". IMDb.
  42. ^ "Cyberpunk 2077 (Video Game 2020)". IMDb.
  43. ^ "Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition (Video Game 2020)". IMDb.
  44. ^ "Elden Ring (Video Game 2022)". IMDb.