Martin Shaw

Last updated on the 20 June 2024 by Maeve

Martin Shaw headshot

Mini Biography

Born: 21 January 1945, Birmingham, Warwickshire, England. 

Martin Shaw spent his early years in Alleyne Grove in Erdington and Sutton Coldfield. Growing up, he attended Great Barr School, where he showed exceptional talent in English literature and drama classes. Despite receiving a scholarship to a drama school in Birmingham at the age of sixteen, he turned it down.

During his youth, Shaw was involved in a drunken fight with a friend, resulting in broken teeth, facial injuries, a fractured skull and required cheekbone surgery.

Upon turning eighteen, Martin Shaw relocated to London to pursue acting studies at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). He worked as an assistant stage manager at the Queen’s Theatre in Hornchurch and the Bristol Old Vic during his apprenticeship in repertory theatre.

The Professionals - Lewis Collins (Bodie) and Martin Shaw (Doyle)
The Professionals – Lewis Collins (Bodie) and Martin Shaw (Doyle)

Martin Shaw’s television debut came in 1967, but his breakthrough arrived a decade later with “The Professionals.” As Doyle, the brooding yet charming investigator, he captivated audiences alongside Lewis Collins. The show’s success cemented his status as a television icon, but Shaw, ever the chameleon, avoided typecasting. He balanced television with acclaimed stage performances, earning a Tony nomination for his role in “An Ideal Husband.”

The 1990s saw Shaw take on complex characters in “The Chief” and “Soldier Soldier,” showcasing his ability to portray authority figures with depth. However, it was the turn of the millennium that brought him another iconic role: Judge John Deed. The principled yet flawed jurist resonated with viewers, making the series a ratings phenomenon for the BBC.

Inspector George Gently - Lee Ingleby and Martin Shaw
Inspector George Gently – Lee Ingleby and Martin Shaw

Martin Shaw’s portrayal of Inspector George Gently (2007) is considered another defining role in his career. He brings depth and gravitas to the character, making him a relatable and respected figure who tackles the changing social landscape of the 1960s while upholding the law.

He’s a prolific audiobook narrator and a skilled documentary presenter, further demonstrating his multifaceted talents.

Martin Shaw’s personal life has mirrored his professional diversity. Married three times, he has three children, all of whom have pursued acting careers. Despite the public eye, Shaw maintains a sense of privacy, valuing his family life and time spent away from the spotlight.

At 79, Martin Shaw remains a formidable presence in British entertainment. His dedication to his craft, his willingness to explore diverse roles and his enduring charisma have earned him a loyal fanbase and a place among the nation’s most respected actors.


Suggested viewing


The Chief (1990)

The Chief poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.0

A newly appointed police chief clashes with his subordinates and superiors while attempting to reform a corrupt department. He faces internal resistance, public scrutiny and even violence as he fights to clean up the force and enforce the law with integrity.

Top cast: Martin Shaw, Tim Pigott-Smith, Gillian Martell, Karen Archer, Dean Lepley, Michael Cochrane, Stuart McGugan, Judy Loe.

Similar to

Line of Duty poster


The Professionals (1977)

The Professionals poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.0

The Professionals is a British action-packed crime drama series that follows the adventures of CI5, a covert law enforcement unit. Led by tough and resourceful agent Bodie and his partner Doyle, they tackle dangerous missions involving terrorism, espionage and organised crime to protect national security in 1970s Britain.

Top cast: Gordon Jackson, Martin Shaw, Lewis Collins, Anthony Andrews, Colin Wells, Glyn Owen, George Sewell, Michael Latimer.


Inspector George Gently (2007)

Inspector George Gently poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 8.1

Inspector George Gently is a British crime drama series set in the 1960s. The show follows the investigations of Detective Inspector George Gently, a seasoned and meticulous detective who solves complex murder cases with his loyal partner, Detective Sergeant John Bacchus, in North East England.

Top cast: Martin Shaw, Lee Ingleby, Simon Hubbard, Lisa McGrillis, Melanie Clark Pullen, Philip Davis, Oliver Ford Davies, John Bowler.


Judge John Deed (2001)

Judge John Deed poster

Bftv 9.0 / IMDb 7.6

Judge John Deed is a British legal drama television series that follows the life of Judge John Deed, a maverick judge who often challenges the establishment and fights for justice. The show explores his personal and professional struggles while dealing with controversial cases in the high-profile world of law.

Top cast: Martin Shaw, Jenny Seagrove, Caroline Langrishe, Simon Chandler, Louisa Clein, Donald Sinden, Barbara Thorne, Christopher Cazenove.


Apparitions (2008)

Apparitions poster

Bftv 8.5 / IMDb 7.9

Apparitions is a supernatural drama series that follows the life of Father Jacob, a troubled Catholic priest who becomes an exorcist for the Vatican. Battling demonic forces and confronting his own inner demons, he investigates paranormal phenomena while questioning his faith in a world where evil lurks at every turn.

Top cast: Martin Shaw, Rick Warden, Siobhan Finneran, John Shrapnel, Shaun Dooley, Joe Armstrong, Katy Carmichael, Brian Cox.


Martin Shaw full filmography @ Wikipedia
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