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Before we get too deeply into this, let’s just get the regenerating elephant out of the room. We know everyone knows John Simm as the Master in Doctor Who. He’s kind of impossible to forget, given the cackling glee he brought to proceedings and the fact that he made the Doctor cry.
And he’s not just the reliable mad bad guy, a good deal of his successes on British TV—from State of Play to Life on Mars—involve him playing the everyman trapped in the middle of a vortex of unhappy chance. He’s also played rock stars—Bernard Sumner of New Order in 24 Hour Party People—and ravers—in Human Traffic—and his Hamlet was as critically adored as that of his former Doctor Who nemesis David Tennant.
So, he’s great, he’s done the work, he’s been a ubiquitous presence on British TV for years and has the admirable back catalogue to prove it, plus two BAFTA nominations and one for an Olivier award. And with the arrival on BBC AMERICA of Intruders on August 23, John has a chance to win over a the American masses. It’s his first big role trying out the American accent—which certainly didn’t do Hugh Laurie any harm—as he plays a former LAPD officer investigating a secret society and their troubling mystical abilities.
A good proportion of the roles in his mighty resume thus far are a bit too ripe in the language department for inclusion here, especially The Lakes (sweary clip here) and Human Traffic (although this NSFW scene with Andrew Lincoln is rather good), but we’ve managed to find a few safe-ish examples, in case you wish to investigate further:
Life On Mars (2006)
The key text for Simm fans (who should collectively be known as Simmdaughters and Simmsons) is this highly original drama in which a modern-day policeman is hit by a car, and finds himself living back in the 1970s. But is he dead, in a coma? Is his new environment real, or surreal?
State of Play (2003)
The other key text for Simm fans (Simmdependents? Simmbals?) is this riveting BBC series in which a journalist investigating the circumstances around the death of a researcher to a Member of Parliament finds himself caught in the middle of an unfolding secret drama involving corruption and betrayal.
Because he does a very good Caligula; an unhinged despot with no sense of morality. A bit like the Master, actually.
And oh look, we found a clip of him playing Hamlet too (with the bonus of the same scene acted out afterwards by David Tennant):
Find out more about John’s career to date at the BBC AMERICA Intruders site.
John Simm: I Am The Master, Not Doctor Who
Life On Mars’ Loss Scandalizes the BAFTAs. Plus: Ricky Gervais, John Simm’s New TV Role
John Simm and Philip Glenister Turn Down American Life On Mars
Brit Binge Watching: Five Science Fiction Programs You Can View Online
See more posts by Fraser McAlpine
Fraser has been writing and broadcasting about music and popular culture for over 15 years, first at the Top of the Pops website, and most recently for the NME, Guardian and MSN. He also wrote BBC Radio 1's Chart Blog and reviews albums for BBC Radio 2.
He is Anglophenia's current resident Brit, blogging about British slang and running around the Mall taking snaps of the crowd at the Royal Wedding, as well as reigniting a childhood passion for classic Doctor Who and cramming as much music in as he can manage.
Fraser invites you to join him on Twitter: @csi_popmusic