Samuel Barnett (actor)

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 the 2016 BBC America adaptation of the Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency book series by Douglas Adams.

Samuel Barnett
Barnett at the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1980-04-25) 25 April 1980
Years active2001–present

Early life

Barnett was born in Whitby in North Yorkshire, England. He started performing at an early age before moving to London to study acting at LAMDA. Barnett is one of five children. Barnett's father is of Polish-Jewish descent, whereas his mother is of Quaker background.[2]


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 he 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 – 4 July 2010. From July 2012, he appeared in an all-male-cast as Queen Elizabeth in Shakespeare's Richard III at the Globe Theatre 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 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]

Recognition and awards

Barnett was nominated for Evening Standard Award as Most Promising Newcomer for his role in The Marriage of Figaro in 2002. He won Best Newcomer & 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.[12] He won a 2006 Drama Desk Award and was nominated for a 2006 Tony Award for his work on the Broadway production.[13][14]

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.[15]

In 2014, Barnett received a nomination for a Tony Award for Best Actor in a Play for his work in Twelfth Night.[16]

Personal life

Barnett is gay and is in a relationship with Adam Penford.[17]

Selected credits


Year Title Role Theatre
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[18] Barney Bush Theatre, London
The Man Man Finborough Theatre, London
Women Beware Women[19] 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,


Year Title Role Network Notes
2001 Couplingsex shop assistantBBCSeries 2 Episode 2 "My Dinner in Hell"
2002 The Inspector Lynley MysteriesBrian ByrneBBCSeries 1 Episode 1 "Well-Schooled in Murder"
2002-03 StrangeDoddingtonBBC
2003 DoctorsCharlie AmbroseBBCSeries 5 Episode 153 "All an Illusion"
The RoyalJoe SteeplesITVSeries 3 Episode 5 "Poison"
2006 American ExperiencePhilip Hamilton's schoolmatePBSSeries 19, Episode 15 "Alexander Hamilton"
2007 Wilfred Owen: A Remembrance TaleWilfred OwenBBC
John AdamsThomas Boylston AdamsHBO
2008 Beautiful PeopleAdult Simon Doonan / narratorBBC
Crooked HouseBillyBBC
2009 Desperate RomanticsJohn MillaisBBC
Beautiful People: Series 2Adult Simon Doonan / narratorBBC
Agatha Christie's Marple[20]Sergeant TiddlerITVThe Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side
2011 Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of CrispsLeonardBBC
Shakespeare in ItalyRomeo MontagueBBC
2012 Twenty TwelveDannyBBC
2015 ViciousYoung StuartITV
2015 Not Safe for WorkNathanialChannel 4
2016 EndeavourAnthony DonnITV
2016 Penny DreadfulRenfieldShowtime
2016-17 Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective AgencyDirk GentlyBBC America


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


Year Title Role Station Notes
2004 Fighting for Words[21][22] Thomas Moynihan BBC Radio 4
2005 The History Boys[23] Posner BBC Radio 3
When You Cure Me[24] Peter BBC Radio 3
2007 Down and Out in Paris and London[25] George Orwell BBC Radio 4
2008 The Babington Plot[26] Thomas Salisbury BBC Radio 4
2009 The Quest Mordred BBC Radio 4
Joan of Arc, and How She Became a Saint[27] Dauphin of France BBC Radio 4
Turing's Test[28] Alan Turing Made In Manchester
2010 Spitfire Tony BBC Radio 4
Translations[29] Yolland BBC Radio 4
I, Claudius[30] 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[31] Cecil Beaton BBC Radio 4
2018 The Case of Charles Dexter Ward[32] Charles Dexter Ward BBC Radio 4

Audio drama

Year Title Role Production Notes
2009 Doctor Who: The Beast of Orlok Hans Big Finish
2016 Doctor Who: Nightshade Robin Yeadon
2016, 2018 Torchwood - Monthly Range[33][34] Norton Folgate
2016 Torchwood - Special Releases: The Torchwood Archive
2016 The Confessions Of Dorian Gray Staurt Knight
2016 Torchwood - Special Releases: Outbreak Norton Folgate
2017, 2018 Cicero Cicero
2017 Hamlet Laertes
2018 Torchwood - The Story Continues: God Among Us 2 Norton Folgate
2019 Doctor Who: Tartarus[35] Cicero
2020 Torchwood Soho - Parisite Norton Folgate


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


  1. "20 Questions With...Samuel Barnett". Archived from the original on 16 June 2011. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  3. "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. Emmitt Eberhard (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. Emmitt Eberhard (8 February 2014). "CASTS". Shakespeare on Broadway. Archived from the original on 8 February 2014. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  11. Billington, Michael. "Allelujah! review – Alan Bennett's hospital drama is full of quiet anger". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 September 2018.
  12. Wolf, Matt (23 January 2005). "Big musicals score lion's share of Olivier noms". Variety. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  13. "2006 – Drama Desk Awards – Press Releases". Archived from the original on 12 October 2006. Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  14. "The American Theatre Wing's Tony Awards – Official Website by IBM". Retrieved 13 October 2006.
  15. "British Independent Film Awards Announce Nominations". 26 October 2006. Archived from the original on 28 April 2007. Retrieved 11 November 2006.
  16. "Tony Award Winners 2014 — Full List". Variety. Retrieved 27 July 2016.
  17. 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.
  18. "The Whisky Taster Reviews at the Bush Theatre". Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  19. "Productions: Women Beware Women". Retrieved 22 March 2010.
  20. "Stellar casting for new Marple film (ITV press release, 05.08.2009)". Archived from the original on 31 October 2009. Retrieved 16 August 2009.
  21. "Fighting for Words radio listing". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  22. Daoust, Phil (28 January 2005). "Pick of the day". The Guardian. London. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  23. "BBC Radio 3 – Drama on 3 – The History Boys". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  24. "BBC Radio 3 – Drama on 3 – When You Cure Me". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  25. "BBC – Radio 4 – the Classic Serial". Retrieved 20 April 2007.
  26. "LocateTV – The Babington Plot". Archived from the original on 26 December 2016. Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  27. "BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play – Joan of Arc, and How She Became a Saint". Retrieved 14 August 2009.
  28. "Download "Turing's Test": an exclusive new radio play". The Independent Online. 23 October 2009. Retrieved 11 October 2016.
  29. "BBC Radio 4 – The Saturday Play – Translations". Retrieved 4 September 2010.
  30. "BBC Radio 4 – I, Claudius". Retrieved 12 December 2010.
  31. "BBC Radio 4 – Afternoon Drama – James Lees-Milne". Retrieved 10 July 2013.
  32. "BBC Radio 4 - The Case of Charles Dexter Ward". Retrieved 6 November 2019.
  33. "09. Torchwood: Ghost Mission - Torchwood - Monthly Range - Big Finish". Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  34. "19. Torchwood: The Death of Captain Jack - Torchwood - Monthly Range - Big Finish". Retrieved 7 September 2019.
  35. "256. Doctor Who: Tartarus - Doctor Who - The Monthly Adventures - Big Finish". Retrieved 7 September 2019.

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