Joe Armstrong (actor)

Joe Armstrong (born 7 October 1978) is an English actor. His notable television roles include Allan A Dale in three series of Robin Hood, Hotspur in Henry IV, Part I, Ashley Cowgill in Happy Valley and Bairstow in The Village. On stage, he played the lead role in D. C. Moore's The Empire and appeared in the 2011 revival of Flare Path. He co-starred with Maxine Peake in Miss Julie at the Royal Exchange and with Louise Brealey in a touring production of Constellations.

Joe Armstrong
Joe Armstrong 2016.jpg
Joe Armstrong in 2016
Born (1978-10-07) 7 October 1978 (age 41)
London, England, United Kingdom
Years active1998–present

Early lifeEdit

Armstrong is the son of actor Alun Armstrong and his wife Sue. He has an older brother, Tom, and a younger brother, Dan, who was in the band Clock Opera.[1] He was born and raised in London, and he attended Elliott School in Putney from 1993 to 1997.[2] He then studied at the University of Bristol, where he acted in The Brecht Project—a collection of scenes from the works of Bertolt Brecht—in 1998 and Women Beware Women in 1999.[3] He is a fan of AFC Wimbledon.[4]



Joe Armstrong's first television role was a bit part in a 2003 episode of The Bill, followed by a brief appearance in the ITV mini-series Between the Sheets starring his father Alun Armstrong. In the 2004 BBC film Passer By, he had a supporting role as one of two men accused of assaulting a woman on a train. He guest starred in the 2004 Waking the Dead episode "Fugue States" as a young man who reappears with amnesia after being abducted as a child. Also in 2004, he played the son of a murdered farmer in the Foyle's War episode "They Fought in the Fields."

Other television credits include guest spots in Midsomer Murders (2004), Blackpool (2004), Rose and Maloney (2005), another episode of The Bill (2005), The Inspector Lynley Mysteries (2006), Party Animals (2007), The Last Detective (2007) and The Whistleblowers (2007).

In 2006, Armstrong was cast in the BBC series Robin Hood as Allan—based on the legendary figure Alan-a-Dale—who joins Robin's band of outlaws in Sherwood Forest. Allan later becomes allied with the sympathetic villain Guy of Gisborne but has a change of heart and rejoins his friends. Armstrong appeared in all three series from 2006 to 2009. The series was filmed on location in and around Budapest.[5]

Armstrong portrayed Norman Heatley in the 2009 BBC Four film Breaking the Mould about the team who turned penicillin into a viable medicine. In 2010, he co-starred with Billie Piper in the two-part drama A Passionate Woman as the husband of a woman who has an affair. His father Alun Armstrong played the older version of his character.[1]

He guest starred in an episode of Hustle in 2011, and he was a regular cast member in the third series of Land Girls.[6] He appeared in Public Enemies starring Daniel Mays and Anna Friel in 2012.[7]

Armstrong played Hotspur in Richard Eyre's 2012 production of Henry IV, Part I—one of four films in the BBC Two Shakespeare cycle The Hollow Crown. He employed a Geordie accent for the role. Jeremy Irons played Henry IV, with Tom Hiddleston as Prince Hal and Alun Armstrong as Hotspur's father, the Earl of Northumberland.[8]

In the 2013 drama The Village, depicting life in a Derbyshire village in the early 20th century, he played Stephen Bairstow, a detective scarred by his experiences at the Front in World War I.[9] The character was originally a minor one, but writer Peter Moffat expanded the role because he was impressed with Armstrong.[10] He reprised his role in the second series in 2014.[11]

Armstrong played drug dealer-turned-kidnapper Ashley Cowgill in Sally Wainwright's 2014 crime drama Happy Valley, starring Sarah Lancashire.[12] In December 2016 he also appeared as William Allison in Wainwright's To Walk Invisible, a television biopic about the lives of the Bronte family[13].

In 2016, he appeared in "Hated in the Nation", an episode of the anthology series Black Mirror.

In 2018, he appeared as series regular Gildas in Britannia, Jez Butterworth's historical drama about the Roman conquest of Britain.[14] Appeared as Samuel Washington in HBO’s Gentleman Jack, written by Sally Wainwright.


Performing with the National Youth Theatre, Armstrong's roles included Gerry Evans in Dancing at Lughnasa in 1998[15] and Lieutenant Stedna in They Shoot Horses, Don't They? in 2000.[16] He also played Wackford Squeers in Nicholas Nickleby.[1]

In 2003, Armstrong had the dual roles of Adam and Jeff in Protection by Fin Kennedy at the Soho Theatre.[17] He appeared in How Love Is Spelt by Chloe Moss at the Bush Theatre in 2004[18] and in A Night at the Dogs by Matt Charman at the Soho Theatre in 2005.[19]

At the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in 2009, he played Liam in the Dennis Kelly play Orphans. The play premiered at the Traverse Theatre in August and then moved to the Birmingham Repertory Theatre in September and the Soho Theatre in London in October.[20] Armstrong was nominated for a Stage Award for Best Actor.[21]

In the DC Moore play The Empire, Armstrong starred as Gary, a Lance Corporal in Afghanistan guarding an injured prisoner who claims to be British. Paul Taylor of The Independent wrote: "Gary ... veers between seething anger and low-key sarcasm, an oscillation superbly conveyed by excellent Joe Armstrong."[22] In preparation for the role, Armstrong and other cast members met with soldiers who had served in Afghanistan.[23] The play had a six-week run at the Jerwood Theatre Upstairs in the Royal Court Theatre from March to May 2010[24] followed by two weeks at the Drum Theatre in the Theatre Royal, Plymouth in May.[25]

Armstrong played RAF tail gunner Dusty Miller in Terence Rattigan's World War II drama Flare Path in 2011. The critically acclaimed revival directed by Trevor Nunn ran from March to June at the Theatre Royal Haymarket.[26][27]

In 2012, he played Jean in Miss Julie opposite Maxine Peake in the title role at the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester. Armstrong described the role as one of his most challenging because of the need to make his character's sudden changes in mood believable.[28] Alfred Hickling of The Guardian remarked that "Joe Armstrong's Jean ... flips back and forth between brute arrogance and fawning servility with the casual manner of tossing a coin."[29]

In a 2013 production of Harold Pinter's The Dumb Waiter at The Print Room, Armstrong played Gus alongside Clive Wood as Ben.[30] Matt Trueman of The Telegraph called Wood and Armstrong "two perfect Pinterians,"[31] and Fiona Mountford of The Evening Standard wrote, "Armstrong, always an actor of easy geniality, flourishes in particular with this short, sharp, light-footed humour."[32]

Armstrong co-starred with Louise Brealey in the 2015 touring production of Constellations.[33]


In 2006, Armstrong was in two short films: A Ticket Too Far and Service. The latter was part of the Coming Up series on Channel 4.[34]

He appears in Nae Caranfil's film Closer to the Moon, also starring Vera Farmiga, Mark Strong and Harry Lloyd, which was filmed in Bucharest in the autumn of 2011 and was released in Romania in 2014. The film is about the bank robbery allegedly committed by the Ioanid Gang in 1959 Romania. Armstrong's character Răzvan is based on the journalist Haralambie Obedeanu who was one of the accused.[35]

In 2017 Armstrong appeared in Joe Wright's war drama Darkest Hour, his major studio debut.[36]


Armstrong performed in the BBC radio plays Girl from Mars in 2008[37] and Hitched in 2010,[38] and he read the story Gifts by Garry Kilworth as part of a Christmas radio programme.[39] In 2011, he co-starred with Richard Briers and Edna Doré in the Radio 4 drama A Shoebox of Snow.[40] Armstrong reprised his role in DC Moore's The Empire for a BBC Radio 3 production.[41] He was in the radio serial Ruthless by Tim Loane on Radio 4 in 2012.[42] In 2013, he played Sergei in a Radio 4 adaptation of Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk,[43] and he appeared in the series The Corrupted by G. F. Newman.[44] He performed in the drama Ghosts of Heathrow in 2014[45] and in adaptations of The Bone Clocks,[46] The Book Of Strange New Things[47] and The Trial.[48]

Screen and stage creditsEdit

Television and filmEdit

Year Title Role Notes
2003 The Bill Fraser Howie Series 19, Episode 30: #105
2003 Between the Sheets Richard Lloyd TV mini-series: Episode 1
2004 Passer By Tinley Television film
2004 Waking the Dead Jason Murphy Series 4, Episodes 5–6: "Fugue States"
2004 Midsomer Murders David Cooke Series 8, Episode 2: "Dead in the Water"
2004 Foyle's War Tom Jackson Series 3, Episode 3: "They Fought in the Fields"
2004 Blackpool Mark Reed TV mini-series: Episodes 1, 2 and 4
2005 Rose and Maloney Max Roche Series 2, Episode 3
2005 The Bill Lenny Bartle Series 21, Episode 101: #374
2006 A Ticket Too Far Ray Short
2006 The Inspector Lynley Mysteries Darren Series 5, Episode 3: "Chinese Walls"
2006 Coming Up Danny Short; Series 2, Episode 2: "Service"
2006–09 Robin Hood Allan A Dale Series 1–3: 38 episodes
2007 Party Animals D.C. Harmison Series 1, Episode 6
2007 The Last Detective Chas Series 4, Episode 1: "Once Upon a Time on the Westway"
2007 The Whistleblowers Fleck Series 1, Episode 4: "Fit for Purpose"
2009 Breaking the Mould Norman Heatley Television film
2010 A Passionate Woman Donald Television film (Part 1)
2011 Hustle Joe Ryan Series 7, Episode 2: "Old Sparks Come New"
2011 Land Girls Danny Sparks Series 3
2012 Public Enemies Ben Somers 3-part television drama
2012 Henry IV, Part I Hotspur Television film
2013–14 The Village Stephen Bairstow Television series
2014 Closer to the Moon Răzvan Film
2014 Happy Valley Ashley Cowgill Television series
2016 Black Mirror Nick Shelton Episode: "Hated in the Nation"
2016 To Walk Invisible William Allison Television film
2017 Darkest Hour John Evans Film
2018 Britannia Gildas Television series
2019 Gentleman Jack Samuel Washington Television series


Year Play Playwright Role Theatre Notes
1998 Dancing at Lughnasa Brian Friel Gerry Evans George Square Theatre, Edinburgh
Arts Theatre, London
National Youth Theatre
2000 They Shoot Horses, Don't They? Ray Herman Lieutenant Stedna Apollo Theatre, London National Youth Theatre
2003 Protection Fin Kennedy Adam
Soho Theatre, London
2004 How Love Is Spelt Chloe Moss Joe Bush Theatre, London
2005 A Night at the Dogs Matt Charman Danny Soho Theatre, London
2009 Orphans Dennis Kelly Liam Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh
Birmingham Repertory Theatre
Soho Theatre, London
Nominated: Stage Award for Best Actor
2010 The Empire DC Moore Gary Jerwood Theatre Upstairs, London
Drum Theatre, Plymouth
2011 Flare Path Terence Rattigan Sergeant Dusty Miller Theatre Royal Haymarket, London
2012 Miss Julie August Strindberg Jean Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester
2013 The Dumb Waiter Harold Pinter Gus The Print Room, London Nominated: Offie Award for Best Male Performance[49]
2015 Constellations Nick Payne Roland Touring production
2015 Husbands & Sons D H Lawrence Luther Gascoigne Co-production between National Theatre, London and Royal Exchange, Manchester
2019 Rutherford and Son Githa Sowerby Martin National Theatre, London


  1. ^ a b c Hayes, Martha. "My Family Business: The New Tricks star on the advantages of sharing a role with son Joe in BBC1's A Passionate Woman", TV Times, 10–16 April 2010.
  2. ^ "Some Notable Elliott Pupils", The Elliottonian Web Site. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  3. ^ "University of Bristol Theatre Collection". Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  4. ^ "The History Boys", Glamour, August 2012, p. 93.
  5. ^ "Robin Hood Revealed", BBC Press Office, 3 April 2006. Retrieved 2001-01-29.
  6. ^ "Cast announced for third series of Land Girls", BBC Press Office, 16 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-16.
  7. ^ "BBC One Public Enemies". Retrieved 20 December 2011.
  8. ^ "Cast confirmed for BBC Two's cycle of Shakespeare films" (Press release). BBC Drama Publicity. 24 November 2011. Archived from the original on 30 December 2011. Retrieved 20 July 2012.
  9. ^ "The Village Press Pack", BBC Press Office, 19 March 2013, p. 8. Retrieved 2013-03-19.
  10. ^ The Village Press Pack, p. 31.
  11. ^ "Filming starts on second series of BBC One's The Village". BBC Media Centre. 28 March 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
  12. ^ Bremner, Jade. "Last Tango in Halifax actress Sarah Lancashire begins shooting new crime drama in Yorkshire", Radio Times, 11 December 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  13. ^ To Walk Invisible: The Bronte Sisters (TV Movie 2016), retrieved 23 January 2018
  14. ^ Britannia, David Morrissey, Kelly Reilly, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, retrieved 23 January 2018CS1 maint: others (link)
  15. ^ Hemming, Sarah. Review of Dancing at Lughnasa, Financial Times, 9 September 1998.
  16. ^ "They Shoot Horses, Don't They", Swing Time, September 2000. Retrieved 2011-01-29.
  17. ^ Fisher, Philip. Review of Protection, The British Theatre Guide, 2003. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  18. ^ Sierz, Aleks. Review of How Love Is Spelt, The Stage, 4 October 2004. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  19. ^ Neill, Heather. Review of A Night at the Dogs Archived 16 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine, What's On Stage, 13 April 2005. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  20. ^ "Paines Plough Past Productions" Archived 13 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  21. ^ "2009 Nominees" Archived 26 September 2009 at the Wayback Machine, The Stage Edinburgh. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  22. ^ Taylor, Paul. "The Empire, Theatre Upstairs, London", The Independent, 20 April 2010. Retrieved 2011-02-28.
  23. ^ "A Clash of Cultures Provide Drama in the Theatre of War"[permanent dead link], Western Morning News, 14 May 2010. Retrieved 2015-08-21.
  24. ^ "The Empire at the Royal Court Theatre". Retrieved 2011-01-27.
  25. ^ "The Empire" Archived 1 December 2010 at the Wayback Machine, Theatre Royal and Drum Theatre Plymouth. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  26. ^ Marlowe, Sam. "Flare Path, Theatre Royal Haymarket", The Arts Desk, 14 March 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
  27. ^ "Flare Path Closes at the Theatre Royal Haymarket", Broadway World, 11 June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-14.
  28. ^ Armstrong, Joe. After Show Discussion, Royal Exchange, Manchester, 9 May 2012.
  29. ^ Hickling, Alfred. "Miss Julie – review", The Guardian, 17 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-07-03.
  30. ^ "Plays Cast: Glover's Dumb Waiter, Arcola Home and Adult Supervision", What's On Stage, 25 September 2013. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
  31. ^ Trueman, Matt. "The Dumb Waiter, The Print Room, review", The Telegraph, 1 November 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  32. ^ Mountford, Fiona. "The Dumb Waiter, Print Room, theatre review", Evening Standard, 29 October 2013. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  33. ^ Bannister, Rosie. Cast Announced for Tour of Constellations, What's On Stage, 30 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  34. ^ "Coming Up, Series 2, Episode 2, Service", Channel 4. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  35. ^ Sauciuc, Gloria. "Closer to the Moon, by Nae Caranfil, is filming from September 5", Cinemagia (Romanian), 2 September 2011. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  36. ^ Darkest Hour (2017), retrieved 23 January 2018
  37. ^ "Afternoon Play - Girl from Mars", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2001-01-30.
  38. ^ "Afternoon Play - Hitched", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  39. ^ "Twas the Night Before Christmas", BBC Radio 7. Retrieved 2011-01-30.
  40. ^ "Afternoon Play - A Shoebox of Snow", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2011-09-13.
  41. ^ "The Wire - The Empire", BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 2011-10-21.
  42. ^ "15 Minute Drama - Ruthless", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
  43. ^ "Afternoon Drama - Lady Macbeth of Mtsensk", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2013-09-25.
  44. ^ "GF Newman's The Corrupted", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2013-12-11.
  45. ^ "Afternoon Drama: Ghosts of Heathrow", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  46. ^ "Book at Bedtime: The Bone Clocks", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  47. ^ "15 Minute Drama: The Book of Strange New Things", BBC Radio 4. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  48. ^ "Drama on 3: The Process", BBC Radio 3. Retrieved 2015-05-15.
  49. ^ "2013 Finalists Nominated for the Offie Awards". Retrieved 26 January 2014.

External linksEdit