'I owe so much to mum and dad,' says DCI Banks' Stephen Tompkinson

'I owe so much to mum and dad,' says DCI Banks' Stephen Tompkinson

Stephen Tompkinson latest news

Stephen to star in famous play Art


Stephen is starring in Art wth Nigel Havers and Denis Lawson, on a tour of the country. The play is 22 years old, and focuses on three friends who quarrel after one buys a painting.

Walk Like a Panther

Walk Like a Panther (2018)_Twentieth Century Fox.jpg

Stephen's latest project is a new film called Walk Like a Panther, which will revolve around a group of 1980s wrestlers! The film, out later this year, also stars Sue ohnston and Jason Flemyng, and looks totally hilarious.

Stephen Tompkinson in DCI Banks

It’s proof of Stephen Tompkinson’s acting ability that he manages to portray a dour, introverted, glass-half-empty character like detective Alan Banks with such authenticity. In real life, Stephen is personable, friendly and outgoing. 

The former Ballykissangel, Drop the Dead Donkey and Wild At Heart star is also extremely loyal and has never forgotten the debt he owes his parents – retired bank manager father, Brian, and his late mother, Josephine, who passed away ten years ago.

“Acting wasn’t in the family and they initially wanted me to go to university before drama school so I’d have a degree to fall back on,” Stephen recalls. “But then in Sixth Form they watched me play John Proctor in a school production of The Crucible. Mum and Dad obviously saw something in me because they decided I could go straight to drama school.

I got a place at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London but I couldn’t get a grant, so Mum and Dad supported me for the first two years. They backed me all the way – even though, for those two years, they didn’t see me perform in anything and had to take my word for it that I was doing all right.


“They had such faith in me and were so trusting. There was a sense in me that I had to succeed because they’d invested so much.

I’ll always be grateful to them. Fortunately I enjoyed some success before Mum died and so I was able to spoil them rotten – to say thank you for everything they’d done for me.”

Stephen's family

Family has always been of great importance to Stephen (age 49). The younger of two brothers – “my big brother John is a lollipop man and I’m very proud of him,” he says – the boys were brought up in Lytham St Anne’s, although their roots were in Stockton-on-Tees where they were born and where their extended family lived.

“Mum and Dad both had lots of siblings and, in fact, Dad’s eldest brother married Mum’s eldest sister,” Stephen reveals. “There were always loads of kids around and it was during this time, when I was a child, that I became fascinated by entertainment. I would watch old Laurel and Hardy films with my granddad and he’d always say, “Never mind Ollie, watch Stan”. Stan Laurel seemed to be doing little on the surface – it was Oliver Hardy who got all the obvious laughs. I’d watch Stan and saw what my granddad meant – it was Stan propelling the laughs. His humour was gentle, rather like Granddad’s in fact.”


Fast forward a generation or two and Stephen now introduces his favourite comedy shows to his daughter, Daisy (14). “We share a love of them,” he says. “Thanks to Youtube, we watch footage of the musical hall acts who inspired me and we also watch films together. I first showed her a DVD of Monty Python and the Holy Grail when she was about six and she totally got the humour on her own. I didn’t have to explain any of it so I guess it must be in the genes.”

So much so that Daisy has some ambitions to act herself. “Yes, she likes acting – unfortunately,” he half grimaces, half grins. “I’m very protective and have pointed out the pitfalls – such as doing two shows on a Wednesday in front of a half-full theatre and all that – but she hasn’t been put off. She adores it.

“She’s been bitten by the bug but she seems to manage the balancing act of doing drama and school work very well. If acting is ultimately what she wants to do and she feels she could make a go of it, I couldn’t be more delighted.”

Stephen and Daisy’s mum, Nicci Taylor, separated in 2006 and he’s been with long-term girlfriend Elaine Young since 2007.  “Elaine’s made the most enormous difference to my life,” he says. “She’s calmed me down and made me worry less about the future. I used to be a terrible worrier – about my career, about life in general – but she’s helped me realise you can’t enjoy the here and now if you’re always thinking about what might happen tomorrow.”

Stephen Tompkinson in DCI Banks

Back to DCI Banks and, four series in, Stephen is still enjoying it.

“What makes Banks so extraordinary is his ordinariness – it’s the situations he finds himself involved with that are out of the ordinary. People like to believe in the justice system and they admire Banks’ dedication and work ethic. If you were in trouble or something happened to you, you’d want a detective like Banks on your side, wouldn’t you? I think the viewers have warmed to the fact that the show is gritty and unglamorous – like much of real life. There’s also the voyeuristic element of police and hospital-based dramas. We want to witness what goes on but don’t want to end up there ourselves.”

Stephen’s hoping a fifth series of DCI Banks will be on the cards but in the meantime, he’s working on something completely different – playing Brian the pharmacist in the fifth series of the supermarket sitcom Trollied, which will be broadcast this summer on Sky 1. “It’s what I need after several months playing Alan Banks,” he smiles. “I always hanker after comedy when I’ve done drama – and vice versa. Variety is what it’sall about.”

Catch up with DCI Banks on ITV Player

Words: Alison James  

Did you know...

  • Apart from his role in DCI Banks, Stephen Tompkinson is best known for his role as Danny Tevanion in Wild At Heart, which he starred in between 2006-2012.
  • He's also much-loved for his role in Ballykissangel and for starring alongside Robson Green in two series of Grafters.
  • He worked with his Ballykissangel co-star Dervla Kirwan again in 1999 in The Flint Street Nativity.
  • Stephen isn't just a TV star, having also appeared in the film Brassed Off

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