Jack Shepherd (born 29 October 1940) is an English actor, playwright, theatre director, saxophone player and jazz pianist, who made his film debut in 1969 with All Neat in Black Stockings and The Virgin Soldiers. He is perhaps best known for his television roles, most notably the title role in detective drama Wycliffe. His daughter Catherine Shepherd is also an actress.


Early life

Shepherd attended Roundhay School in Leeds and then studied fine art at Kings College, Newcastle. 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 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.

During the 1970s he appeared in many television dramas, including occasional appearances in the series Budgie. Shepherd took the title role in Trevor Griffiths's Thames TV series Bill Brand (1976) as a radical Labour MP. In the same year he also played a television director struggling to maintain his composure during a doomed location shoot in Ready When You Are, Mr McGill, both performances gaining 1976 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 playwriting. 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 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.

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 increased during the 1980s and 1990s, culminating in his acclaimed role as the eponymous Detective Superintendent Charles Wycliffe in the HTV television series Wycliffe from 1993 to 1998. 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.

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.


Shepherd was involved with the Socialist Labour League and its successor, the Workers Revolutionary Party, in the 1960s and 1970s. In a 2012 interview with the World Socialist Web Site he referred to putting "the dialectic at the heart of the play", but expressed ambivalence towards revolutionary politics today.


Jack Shepherd (actor)

Plays include:

  • The Incredible Journey of Sir Francis Younghusband (Royal Court Upstairs)
  • The Sleep of Reason (Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh) 1973
  • Clapperclaw (BBC Two) 1981
  • Real Time (directed and devised with the Joint Stock Theatre Company) 1982
  • Revelations (Bridge Lane, London) 1983
  • In Lambeth (Partisan Theatre and Donmar Warehouse) 1989. Published by Methuen.
  • Comic Cuts (Derby Playhouse, Salisbury Theatre and Lyric Studio, Hammersmith) 1995
  • Chasing the Moment (BAC1 London) 1995, (revived Arcola, Dalston) 2007. Published by First Writes.
  • Half Moon (Southwark Playhouse) 1998
  • Through a Cloud (Birmingham Rep and Drum, Plymouth) 2004), revived Arcola) 2005. Published by Nick Hern Books.
  • Man Falling Down: A Mask Play (devised and co-written with Oliver Cotton, Shakespeare's Globe) 2005
  • Holding Fire! (Shakespeare's Globe) 2007. Published by Nick Hern Books

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.

Classic ghosts UK tour 2014


Jack Shepherd (actor)
  • All Neat in Black Stockings (1969)
  • The Virgin Soldiers (1969)
  • The Bed-Sitting Room (1969)
  • The Last Valley (1970)
  • Something to Hide (1972)
  • Ready When You Are, Mr McGill (TV) (1976)
  • Count Dracula (TV) (1977)
  • The Devil's Crown (TV) (1978)
  • Scoop (TV) (1987)
  • Body Contact (1987)
  • Escape from Sobibor (1987)
  • The Party (TV) (1988)
  • Ball Trap on the Cote Sauvage (1989)
  • The Big Man (1990)
  • Shoot to Kill (1990)
  • Twenty-One (1991)
  • The Object of Beauty (1991)
  • Blue Ice (1992)
  • Wycliffe (1993â€"1998)
  • No Escape (1994)
  • Over Here (TV) (1994)
  • The Scarlet Tunic (1998)
  • Wonderland (1999)
  • Charlotte Gray (2001)
  • The Martins (2001)
  • Boudica (2003)
  • A Cock and Bull Story (Tristram Shandy) (2005)
  • Lipstick (2005)
  • All About George as Gordon Kinsey (2005)
  • The Golden Compass (2007)
  • God on Trial (TV) (2008)
  • The Nativity (TV) (2010)
  • Thorne: Sleepyhead (TV) (2010)
  • The Politician's Husband (TV) (2013)
  • Midsomer Murders (TV) (2015) episode 17.2 "Murder by Magic" - Magnus Soane

Further reading

Jack Shepherd (actor)
  • Impossible Plays: Adventures With the Cottesloe Company by Keith Dewhurst and Jack Shepherd, Methuen Drama (2006) ISBN 0-413-77585-2


Jack Shepherd (actor)
  • Who's Who in the Theatre. 17th edition, Gale Publishing (1981) ISBN 0-8103-0235-7
  • Halliwell's Film Guide
  • Halliwell's Who's Who in the Movies
  • Theatre Record indexes

External links

  • Jack Shepherd at the Internet Movie Database
  • His theatrical agent's Jack Shepherd page

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