Monday, September 06, 2010

Male on Monday David Morrissey

Kate Walker looks forward to a new drama starring one of her favourite actors (though by the time this post apears, it will have been broadcast and over and done with.)

Last week, my September TV viewing was looking a little empty. For three happy weeks the Babe Magnet and I have been happily glued to the new BBC comedy detective series Vexed which starred a previous Male on Monday Toby Stephens in a bravura performance as lazy, careless, disorganised DI Jack Armstrong. But that finished last weekend. Just what was going to replace it?

But then the new drama U Be Dead was announced and when I saw who was starring in the role of Dr Jan Falkowski, a London psychiatrist who in 2003 was subjected to three years of what the police describe as the worst case of stalking they had ever encountered, I knew the space left by Mr Stephens would be filled by one of my favourite and most watchable actors, David Morrissey.
David Morrissey is one of the not exactly tall dark and handsome actors who fascinate me. Like other favourites, John Simm, even at time Kenneth Branagh, he sometimes, particularly in still photographs looks - well, yes, tall, admittedly (he’s 6’ 3” ) but slightly pasty faced, and ugly-goodlooking in a hard man, tough cop sort of way. But given a meaty dramatic role and a tense plot and he is infinitely watchable.

David Mark Morrissey was born 21 June 1964. He grew up in the Kensington and Knotty Ash areas of Liverpool. He learned to act at the Everyman Youth Theatre, alongside Ian Hart, Mark and Stephen McGann, and Cathy Tyson. At the age of 18, he and Hart were cast in the television series One Summer (1983), which won them recognition throughout the country. After making One Summer, Morrissey attended the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art before acting with the Royal Shakespeare Company and the National Theatre.

In the early stage in his career, he tried to avoid being typecast as policemen and soldiers on television, though still ended up playing the former in Black and Blue, Framed, Between the Lines and Out of the Blue, and the latter playing Andy McNab in The One That Got Away (Paul Greengrass, 1996)]
Throughout the rest of the 1990s, Morrissey began to assert himself as a leading actor; in 1996, he made his first appearance in a Tony Marchant drama, playing Michael Ride in Into the Fire. The following year he played the lead role of Shaun Southerns in Marchant's BBC series Holding On. Southerns, a crooked tax inspector, was the first of many "men in turmoil" roles for Morrissey, and it earned him a nomination for the Royal Television Society Programme Award for Best Male Actor the next year. In 1998, he appeared in Our Mutual Friend where he played schoolmaster Bradley Headstone, a part Morrissey was reluctant to take until reading the script. He studied the role and decided that the character was "an unloved person who keeps on getting it wrong. He could see what a big issue class was for [Headstone], which eventually tips him over into madness." His performance was described by a Guardian writer as bringing "unprecedented depth to a character [...] who is more commonly portrayed as just another horrible Dickens git." In the same year, he played Christopher "Kiffer" Finzi in Hilary and Jackie.

For his next film role as Nazi Captain Weber in Captain Corelli's Mandolin Morrissey researched the Hitler Youth and read Gitta Sereney's biography of Albert Speer, Albert Speer: His Battle with Truth. As with all of his roles, Morrissey created an extensive backstory for Weber to build up the character.

Morrissey returned to television in 2002, playing Franny Rothwell, a factory canteen worker who wants to adopt his dead sister's son, in an episode of Paul Abbott's Clocking Off. His performance was described as "fine, characteristically powerful" in The Independent. He also played tabloid journalist Dave Dewston in the four-part BBC serial Murder, and prison officer Mike in the part-improvised single drama Out of Control. He researched the latter part by shadowing prison officers in a young offenders' institution for a week.

Morrissey was cast in the leading role of Member of Parliament (MP) Stephen Collins for Paul Abbott's BBC serial State of Play (2003). Morrissey's role as Gordon Brown in The Deal (Stephen Frears, 2003), a single drama about a pact made between the two politicians in 1994, for which he put on 2 stone and had his hair permed and dyed, won him acclaim.
His acting in State of Play and The Deal won him considerable acclaim; he was nominated for the British Academy Television Award for Best Actor for his role as Collins but lost to his co-star Bill Nighy. The following year, Morrissey won the RTS Programme Award for Best Male Actor, in his role in The Deal this time beating Nighy.

In 2004, eager to play a comic role, he reunited with Peter Bowker for the BBC One musical serial Blackpool, in which he plays Blackpool arcade owner Ripley Holde. His performance was described as "a powerful mixture of barely suppressed danger and vulnerable, boyish charm." A public poll on ranked him the second best actor of 2004. Morrissey reprised the role in 2006 in Viva Blackpool!, a one-off sequel. The following years saw him cast in two high-profile feature films; while filming the Brian Jones biopic Stoned, he got an audition for Dr Michael Glass, the male lead in Basic Instinct 2.Then later he starred in The Reaping with Hilary Swank. None of these films were major box office or critical success.

In 2007 he played the part of Colonel Brandon in Andrew Davies' Sense and Sensibility. He also appeared as Thomas Howard, Duke of Norfolk in The Other Boleyn Girl .
In December 2008 he appeared alongside his Blackpool co-star David Tennant in "The Next Doctor", the 2008 Christmas special of Doctor Who, playing Jackson Lake—a man who believes he is the Doctor after his mind is affected by alien technology .This prompted media speculation that Morrissey would be taking over the lead role after Tennant quit, and in October 2008 he was the bookmakers' favourite to take on the role.

In March 2009, he appeared as corrupt police detective Maurice Jobson in Red Riding, the Channel 4 adaptation of David Peace's Red Riding Quartet. 2009 also saw Morrissey play Dr Jan Falkowski in U Be Dead, a fact-based drama for ITV about a doctor who becomes the victim of stalking via text messaging. The drama was first broadcast in New Zealand. At the end of the year, Morrissey played Bobby Dykins in the John Lennon biopic Nowhere Boy . As a self-confessed "Beatles geek", Morrissey relished the opportunity to star in the film about Lennon's childhood.

In 2010, Morrissey starred in the BBC single drama Mrs Mandela as Theunis Swanepoel, the interrogator of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela (played by Sophie Okonedo). His performance was praised by Guardian and Independent critics] In March, he starred in the second series of BBC One's Five Days, playing British Transport Police officer Mal Craig. The following month saw the release of Neil Marshall's Centurion, in which Morrissey plays Roman soldier Bothos, and in July he featured as Colonel John Arbuthnot in the Agatha Christie's Poirot adaptation of Murder on the Orient Express, which was first broadcast in the United States.

Morrisey also works as a director on productions like Sweet Revenge which won him a BAFTA nomination for Best New Director (Fiction) , Bring Me Flowers and Don’t Worry About Me. He is married to novelist Esther Freud and they have three children; Albie, Anna and Gene.

So that's my 'research' sorted for now. Sadly, U Be Dead is only a one off - but then I do have a performance of another of my favourite actors to look forward to in a couple of weeks time when I get to see John Simm live on stage in Hamlet at the Sheffiled Crucible. It's a tough j0b but someone has to do it.

Kate Walker's latest release for Harlequin Mills and Boon is a little unusual. The Good Greek Wife? is part of a four book mini-series that retells classic Greek Myths, updating and 'Modernising' them in romance form. The mini-series is labelled The Greek Tycoons - Legends are Made of Men Like These.

The Good Greek Wife? is available as an ebook and a print edition now on eHarlequin and will be released in America in October when it is out in Presents Extra but Kate's most recent Presents title The Konstantos Marriage Demand with another sexy Greek hero is still available on eHarlequin and Amazon.

You can read how Kate approached writing The Good Greek Wife? on her website and all her most up to date news can be found on her blog.


  1. I loved him in The Last Doctor, and he was awesome in Blackpool. He really is easy on the eyes.

  2. Hi Kate
    Watched U B Dead last night, was seriously spooked out by the worst case of stalking I've ever seen.
    David Morrisey was incredible, he brought to life a character that was flawed and gave me a niggling doubt right to the end, that he was somehow involved in the whole thing. Thoroughly enjoyed. (Oh and he's yummy as well).
    xx Karen

  3. Hi 'Mistress' I loved that episode of Dr Who too - Mr Tennant and Mr Morrissey together were great fun - and Blackpool was amazing

  4. Karen - your comment is exactly how I felt about U Be Dead. I loved tyhe way that they poertrayed Jan realistically as a flawed character, not just a sweet innocent person who was caught up in all of the nastiness. But still didn't deserve what happened. It made agreat drama