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Mark McGann

Born: 12th July 1961 Kensington, Liverpool, UK.

Occupation(s): Actor, director, writer, composer.


Years active: 1980 - present


Spouse: Caroline Guinness-McGann (Married 2000 – present)


Children: Justine (step-daughter); Leesian (step-daughter)


Grandchildren: Charlotte, Samuel, Lylah, Luc, Alice


Relatives: Joe McGann [1924-1984] (father) Clare McGann (mother) Joe McGann (brother); Paul McGann (brother); Stephen McGann (brother); Clare McGann (sister); Annie McGann (sister-in-law); Heidi Thomas-McGann (sister-in-law); Sue Guinness (sister-in-law) Joseph McGann (nephew); Jake (Sonny) McGann (nephew); Dominic McGann (nephew); Lottie McGann (niece)

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Early life

Mark grew up in the inner-city Kensington area of Liverpool with his metallurgist father Joe (1924-1984) and schoolteacher mother Clare (1935 - present) and his three brothers and sister Joe, Paul, Stephen and Clare. Mark's father Joe was a Royal Naval Commando who saw active service and was wounded on Normandy Beach as part of the D-Day landings in 1944. Mark is the middle child of five. After passing the 11+ scholarship at St Anne's Catholic Primary, he attended the De La Salle Grammar School, Liverpool from 1972 to 1977 before turning professional actor at the age of 18. His three brothers PaulStephen, and Joe are also actors.


The McGann family earned an early reputation as a multi-talented working class, grammar school educated family who received early cultural instruction via the Liverpool, Inner-city Roman Catholic education system. At 10 and 11 respectively, Mark and Paul were lead Sopranos in the International Catholic boys choir the Pueri Cantores. The McGann name was to become synonymous in the 80s and 90s with one the most talented families ever produced by the great city of Liverpool. The McGann household, a modest three up, three down terrace in the Liverpool 7 area that bordered Toxteth, Anfield and Everton, became well known as a place of sibling close harmony singing and the playing of musical instruments encouraged by their parents from and early age. By 1982 the four McGann boys had migrated from the city to pursue successful individual careers as artists in Theatre TV, Film and Music.

Yellowthread St 1989 ITV_edited.jpg

Yellowthread St ITV 1989





Mark became the first McGann to turn professional Actor as a member of the Everyman Theatre Liverpool Company of 1981-2 under the directorship of Bob Eaton. This followed his initial discovery in the Everyman Youth Theatre in 1980 by former Artistic Director Ken Campbell, who employed Mark's services for his production of The Warp by Neil Oram which included actors Jim Broadbent and Neil Cunningham. McGann's first major breakthrough role was as the eponymous hero in the Everyman Theatre company's production of Lennon in October 1981 which received outstanding reviews and became successful worldwide as the definitive version of Lennon's life, not least for McGann's famously uncanny portrayal of the young John Lennon. Following a successful run on Broadway with an American cast, the UK production ran for ten months with McGann in the lead at the London Astoria Theatre directed by Clare Venables, winning Mark the first of his two Olivier Award nominations for the Outstanding Performance of the Year by an Actor in a Musical. He was later to reprise the role of Lennon for the film John and Yoko: A Love Story for NBC television in the United States in 1985 after receiving casting approval from Lennon's widow Yoko Ono. 

In 1982 Mark and his three siblings Joe, Paul and Stephen, became the first four real-life brothers to appear on a West End Stage together when they starred with the 50s revivalist pop group The Darts in Yakety Yak, the story of the prolific songwriters, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller which was written by Rob Walker and staged at The Astoria Theatre Charing Cross Road in 1982. Mark co-devised and musically directed the original West End production of a new play with music, Up On The Roof by Jane Prowse and Simon Moore in 1987, in which he appeared as the love-sick Scott alongside Felicity Montagu and Gary Olsen, and for which he received his second Olivier Award Nomination for Outstanding Performance of the year by an Actor in a Musical.


Mark also appeared as the skinhead revolutionary Gethin Price in Trevor Griffith's play Comedians at the Young Vic Theatre London in 1987 directed by David Thacker. Other notable theatre credits include Mickey in Blood Brothers by Willy Russell for the Robert Stigwood Organisation in 1984 opposite Peter Capaldi, Mosca in Ben Jonson's Volpone with Jeffrey Dench and Anthony Pedley for Cambridge Theatre Company in 1989; Sky Masterson in Guys and Dolls at Leicester Haymarket in 1989 directed by Tim Supple; Killers at the Royal Court Theatre Sloane Square with Sam Kelly directed by Ian Rickson in 1991; Macbeth in Macbeth by William Shakespeare for the Wimbledon Theatre Company directed by Peter Benedict in 1992; Upright in On The Ledge by Alan Bleasdale at the Lyttleton Theatre, Royal National Theatre 1993; As Twins Evelyn and Rupert Farrant in Corpse by Gerald Moon for Kenny Wax Productions in 1995; Chris Keller in Arthur Miller's All My Sons with Julian Glover for Watford Theatre Company in 1996; Inspector Goole in Stephen Daldry's version of J.B. Priestley's An Inspector Calls for the National Theatre Tour in 1999; Albie in world premier of Map of the Heart by William Nicholson for Salisbury Playhouse in 2006.



Mark's first television drama appearances were in 1982 in Recording Studio with Peter Howitt, Robert Stephens and Michael Feast for Granada TV, and in 1983 in Moving On The Edge, a BBC Play for Today TV drama starring Eleanor Bron. He then appeared as Mad Dog O'Gorman in the hit Channel 4 TV series Scully by Alan Bleasdale in 1984 with Cathy Tyson and Elvis Costello. This was the first of three artistic collaborations with Alan Bleasdale, which included the films No Surrender in 1985 and as Detective Jimenez in Pleasure for Channel 4's Alan Bleasdale Presents series in 1990 with Jennifer Ehle and directed by Ian Sharp. In 1984 Mark appeared opposite Tilda Swinton as Verezzi in Channel 4's lavish reimagining of the Percy Bysshe Shelley Gothic novella Zastrozzi: A Gothic Romance adapted and directed by David G. Hopkins.

In 1986 he appeared on ITV in the series Les Girls with Janet McTeer and Sadie Frost; then as Stevie Flynn the son of Glenda Jackson and John Thaw in the 1986 film Business as Usual with Cathy Tyson. In 1989 Mark starred as Detective C J Brady in Yellowthread Street, a thirteen episode Yorkshire Television Production set in Hong Kong. Also in 1989 as lead character Robert in UFA film production Abducted (Reise ohne Wiederkehr) shot in Berlin and directed by Alexandra Von Grote. In 1990 he starred as captain Gary Halliwell in the Channel 4 production The Manageress with Cherie Lunghi; as Niven Craig in Peter Medak's 1991 feature film Let Him Have It with Christopher Eccleston and Tom Courtenay; as David Wright in The Ladies Man: Archibald Hall for Crime Story for ITV with John Shrapnel and Irene Sutcliffe in 1993; and in Murder Most Horrid with Dawn French and Ray Winston in 1993; as Gregory Orlov in Catherine the Great with Catherine Zeta Jones, Jeanne Moreau and Omar Sheriff in 1994; as Mahal in Samson and Delilah for NBC in 1995 with Michael Gambon and Dennis Hopper, directed by Nic Roeg.

Mark appeared as Conor Phelan in the acclaimed BAFTA-winning The Hanging Gale, a 1995 BBC drama set against the backdrop of the Great Famine which also starred Mark's three actor brothers and which was originally an idea loosely based on his family history. Mark played Marcus Bannerman in the World War I era drama series by Russell T. Davies The Grand for two seasons in 1997-8 for Granada TV; Tom Crean, the Kerryman and 'right-hand' companion of Ernest Shackleton in Shackleton with Kenneth Branagh for Channel 4 in 2001 directed by Charles Sturridge; As Norris in Endgame a feature film thriller by Gary Wicks in 2002; as Joseph Bazalgette the Victorian industrial engineer in The Sewer King for the award-winning factual drama-documentary Seven Great Industrial Wonders of the World in 2003 for the BBC directed by Ed Bazalgette; as Sextus Roscius in Cicero-Murder in Rome for the BBC in 2004; as Commander Rosendhal in The Hindenburg for Channel 4 in 2006 and as recently as 2021 as John Cummins in Stephen the story of Stephen Lawrence for ITV starring Steve Coogan. 


The traditional music and harmony-singing environment nurtured by parents Clare and Joe McGann was a chief catalyst for their children's early stage work, ambitions and appearances. All siblings played and sang in their own bands and combos at one time or another growing up in the city during the 1970s, and in 1978 Joe McGann (junior) signed a recording contract with ATV music in London. By 1982, following the success of their hit West End show Yakety Yak, the McGanns were signed on stage at the Astoria Theatre as recording artists for Chrysalis Records, releasing their first single Shame about the Boy sung by Mark with an original B side Red Light. They were soon to become household names, appearing on national prime time TV shows like The Russell Harty Show to perform their music or as actors in high profile TV and Film productions. 

Of the McGanns, Mark is perhaps the most accomplished musically as a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter of many original compositions including the perennial favourite A Heartbeat Away written for his late father Joe and included on the 1999 Warner Brothers Album The McGanns. His various work as musical director, composer and writer and his various acclaimed performances see Mark continue to perform with high profiled musicians and orchestras worldwide following the commissioning of Two of Us:The Lennon and McCartney Songbook by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra which he co-wrote with Bob Eaton in 2010 and the John Lennon Songbook which he continues to perform around the globe.


In 2018 Mark released an album of original compositions called Perplexed Music and has enjoyed numerous collaborations with songwriters and musicians including Hamish Stewart, Boz Boorer, Claire Martin, Earl Slick, Tony Levin, Steph Grace Kennedy, Andy Newmark, Alan White, Steve Zodiac, Marco Perroni, Steve Swindells and Joe Stilgoe.

The Manageress ITV 1988

The Hanging Gale BBC 1995


Original works for stage and screen include:

  • Perplexed Music (2018) - Short film written and directed by McGann and winner of 33 international film festival awards including LA Shorts Platinum Award for Best Short Film, Newcastle International Film Festival Award for Best Short FilmBeverley Hills Film Festival Best Short, Red Corner (Sweden) Film Festival Best Short (33 separate film festival awards)

  • Perplexed Music Album (2019) - Featuring ten original compositions.

  • Two of Us - the Lennon & McCartney Songbook for the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, co-written with Bob Eaton and directed by McGann for the RTE Orchestra Dublin, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra Liverpool, The Northern Sinfonia Newcastle, and the Sibelius Orchestra Lahti, Finland, Bournemouth Symphony (coming in Oct 2023) and Ulster Orchestra (coming Feb 2024)

  • Imagine Lennon for the Stadsteatern Gothenburg, Sweden.

  • Backstories a new play with music written and directed by McGann for the Merton Music Foundation performed at the Royal Albert Hall in 2015

  • The McGanns Album (1999) - Three original compositions - A Heartbeat Away; Feuding Family Band; And Then You'll Walk Away - © M McGann, pub. Bucks Music/Warner Brothers Music

  • The Could Lad of Hylton Castle was directed by McGann and written by BBC writer Colin Swash

  • The Sunderland Saga, an educational commission written and directed by McGann for Sunderland City Council in 2011

  • The Legend of Spottee's Cave - a film project commissioned by Sunderland City Council and produced and directed by McGann in 2011 which received a UK Arts and Culture Award nomination for best educational film

  • Since 2007, McGann has been the director of Drama Direct Ltd, a creative production company producing original productions and educational projects for artists and the entertainment industry.

  • In 2017, McGann launched a successful Kickstarter campaign to fund his short film Perplexed Music, based on the Elizabeth Barrett Browning Petrarchan sonnet of the same name. McGann's film is written and directed by Mark and stars his brother Paul and nephew Jake "Sonny" McGann in leading roles. The film was released to international acclaim in 2018.

  • Mark is a keen supporter of the Arts and an enthusiastic advocate of Frome's vibrant artistic community where he lives and continues to be an associate of the Merlin Theatre and offer his various screen and stage acting classes and private mentoring services to artists at local venues including The Merlin Theatre, Rise and Cooper Hall.

Personal Life

He lives with his dog Ruby-belle and wife Caroline Guinness-McGann, in FromeSomerset.

External links


  • Mark McGann at IMDb

  • "The Hanging Gale - Screen Ireland". www.screen Retrieved 30 August 2020.

  • "Low Down: 'Perplexed Music': A new short film by Mark McGann"

  •  "Surviving famine, the Titanic and D-Day - the amazing story of the McGanns"

  • Yellowthread St 

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