British Actors You Should Know: Tom Ellis

Tom Ellis plays Lucifer Morningstar (Photo: Image Credit courtesy of Smallz and Raskind/FOX)

If you follow social media, you may have recently seen the trending hashtags #saveLucifer or #pickupLucifer. It was announced earlier this month that the FOX network’s crime fantasy series, Lucifer, was cancelled after its third season (which ended on a cliff hanger, of course). Subsequently, fans, producers and cast members took to Twitter to try and rescue the show from the chopping block.

Leading the pack has been the show’s star, Welsh actor Tom Ellis, who plays the titular Lucifer. He’s been relentlessly campaigning for the show’s revival alongside its enthusiastic devotees. While making an appearance at the London MCM Comic Con this past weekend, the actor announced that discussions are in place to resuscitate the series.

“Conversations have started happening as a result of the noise that you guys have been making, so all I can say is thank you, thank you, thank you.”

But before he took on the mantle of the Prince of Darkness, Ellis paid his dues much like any other young actor does. There were brief appearances in movies such as Buffalo Soldiers and Vera Drake, as well as guest spots on TV series like Midsomer Murders, Casualty, Waking the Dead and as Claudio in the Shakespeare Retold version of Much Ado About Nothing.

In 2006, Ellis appeared in 29 episodes of EastEnders. He played Dr. Oliver Cousins, a GP who made an revealing debut by being knocked over and then locked out of his house without a towel close to hand. Oliver later fell in love with single mother Little Mo (Kacey Ainsworth) but, in the end, this same relationship led to the inevitable exit of Dr. Cousins' from the long-running British soap.


An acting rite of passage for many, Ellis nabbed a role on BBC’s signature sci-fi series, Doctor Who. In the final episode of series three, "Last of the Time Lords", he played fugitive Dr. Tom Milligan, who assists the legendary Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) in her worldwide quest to spread the word about the imprisoned Time Lord. He tries to protect her from The Master (John Simm) who shoots him dead and takes Martha captive.

Fortunately, the Doctor can turn back time, negating the Year That Never Was so that Milligan didn’t actually die and Tom turns out to be Martha’s rebound guy after she walks away from her unrequited love, the Tenth Doctor.


In the later half of the 2000s Ellis was cast as a regular in a number on TV series including a crime comedy called Suburban Shootout, a medical drama called Harley Street and as the flirtatious personal assistant to a supermarket chain executive in the ITV dramedy Monday Monday.  I’m featuring this clip mainly because it marks Tom’s initial collaboration with his future co-star Miranda Hart.


Now Miranda is where I first saw Tom Ellis. and to me he will always be Gary Preston – chef and university friend/crush who turns out to be Miranda’s soul mate and partner in shenanigans.

Though sometimes puzzled by her behavior, Gary accepts the fun-loving yet repressed Miranda for who she is. He also seems to be rather unaware of his own hunkiness.


Ellis took a dark turn as the villainous Cenred in the third season of BBC’s adventure fantasy Merlin.  A merciless king, Cenred rules his people with an iron fist.

His kingdom neighbors Camelot so he’s on the lookout for an opportunity to usurp the lands for himself. That hair and crazy eyes though, I’m not sure what to say.


In 2012 Ellis started taking on “family man” roles, first in the Sky TV sitcom Gates, where he portrayed Mark, a builder and the father of a 9-year-old daughter who has been enrolled in a new primary school. He and his wife Helen (Gavin & Stacey’s Joanna Page) must cope with the social expectations placed upon them by staff and the other parents they engage with at the school gates.


In the BBC mini-series The Secret of Crickley Hall, Tom played Gabe Caleigh, a man whose wife has been devasted by the disappearance of five-year-old Cam. A year later he moves the family to the countryside for a fresh start. A practical man, Gabe has little patience for the supernatural world and tries to debunk the myths that have grown up around Crickley Hall and seem to obsess his wife’s (Suranne Jones) imagination.


After winning a few guest roles in American TV series such as Once Upon a Time and The Strain, Tom was cast in the starring role in Rush, a USA network action drama.

On-call doctor William Rush serves an elite clientele who desire his discretion and can afford his cash-only premium. His hedonistic lifestyle is about to change, however, when an old flame and his conscience begin to get the better of him.


And finally, we’re back where we started with Lucifer. Based on a character from The Sandman comic book series by acclaimed author Neil Gaiman, Lucifer Morningstar has become discontented as the Lord of Hell. He chucks in all in and heads for LA where he becomes a nightclub impresario. But after getting caught up in a murder investigation, Lucifer is subsequently invited to be a consultant to the LAPD.


Ellis fans are hoping for a complete return for Lucifer, but for now, Fox has only announced the broadcast of two “bonus” episodes, filmed earlier this spring and originally meant to be part of the fourth, now cancelled, season. The first of the pair actually aired on Memorial Day.

How well are you acquainted with Mr. Ellis? Do you have any favorite roles of this charismatic Welsh actor? Would you like to see Lucifer return? Our comments section awaits your thoughts and opinions. In the meantime, please enjoy the musical stylings of Tom Ellis.