In Spotlight: Stephen Graham’s best TV shows - from This is England to Little Boy Blue

As Stephen Graham prepares to star in NOW TV's crime comedy Code 404, we look back at some of his best television performances.

By Pippa Shawley Published: 21 May 2020 - 4.29pm
Kevin Cummins/Getty

From The Irishman to Line of Duty, Stephen Graham is one of the most talented and hardest working actors in Britain today. Merseyside-born Graham has made a name for himself in hard-hitting dramas such as the This is England franchise and Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, but we’ll soon see Graham’s funny side in new cop comedy Code 404, which lands on NOW TV later this year.

Appearing alongside Daniel Mays, he plays DI Roy Carver, one half of the Met’s Special Investigation Unit’s top crime-fighting duo. After Carver’s buddy DI John Major (Mays) is killed in the line of duty, his body is fast-tracked into an Artificial Intelligence project to bring him back from the dead. The science hasn’t got it quite right, however, and while the new John Major might look and sound like the old one, there’s more than one glitch in the system. Somewhere between Major’s error-heavy hunches and Carver’s scrambling, they manage to scrape, with lots of hilarity on the way.

Ahead of the launch of Code 404, we look back at some of the best TV shows starring Stephen Graham.

This is England

One of Stephen Graham’s best-known roles is that of Andrew ‘Combo’ Gascoigne, a racist skinhead, in Shane Meadows’ This is England franchise.

Graham first starred in the 2006 film, which told the story of Shaun, a 12-year-old boy growing up in the Midlands in the early 1980s who befriends a group of skinheads. Graham reprised his role for the three television spinoffs, receiving a Bafta nomination for his work on This is England ‘90.

Stream This is England on All4.

Boardwalk Empire

Stephen Graham as Al Capone Home Box Office

Epic gangster drama Boardwalk Empire saw Graham reach international fame for his role as the notorious Al Capone. Martin Scorsese, who Graham reunited with on The Irishman, directed the pilot episode and shaped the tone of the series. The series is set in the 1920s, after prohibition laws introduced in the US gave rise to powerful gangsters who profited from smuggling alcohol into the country. The series ran for five series between 2010 and 2014 and received 57 Emmy nominations.

Stream seasons 1-5 on NOW TV.

Line of Duty

Graham appeared in series five of Jed Mercurio’s hit crime drama Line of Duty, playing DS John Corbett, an undercover police officer who disappears while investigating an organised crime group. As with previous series of the show, the plot’s twists and turns often leave you questioning which side Corbett is on, as the team continue to investigate him and search for the elusive ‘H’.

Watch Line of Duty on BBC iPlayer.

The Virtues

Channel 4 series The Virtues saw Graham reunite with Shane Meadows in a moving drama about one man confronting his traumatic past. Graham stars as Joseph, an alcoholic who spirals downwards when his young son moves to Australia. Forced to examine his life, Graham returns to Ireland to visit his sister and address the abuse that has shaped his life. Often a difficult watch, The Guardian named the series one of the best shows of 2019 for its ‘devastating depiction of everyday heroism.’

Stream The Virtues on All 4.

Save Me

Channel 4 series The Virtues saw Graham reunite with Shane Meadows in a moving drama about one man confronting his traumatic past. Graham stars as Joseph, an alcoholic who spirals downwards when his young son moves to Australia. Forced to examine his life, Graham returns to Ireland to visit his sister and address the abuse that has shaped his life. Often a difficult watch, The Guardian named the series one of the best shows of 2019 for its ‘devastating depiction of everyday heroism.’ Sky UK

Womaniser Nelson “Nelly” Rowe’s (Lennie James) life is turned upside down when his estranged daughter, Jody, goes missing, and he is initially suspected of being involved. Drawn into searching for the teenager, Nelly discovers the worst aspects of society as his search takes him into the world of brothels and online paedophilia. Stephen Graham plays Fabio “Melon” Melonzola, Nelly’s best friend. Nelly leans on the computer skills and difficult past to help him track down Jody. The show will return for a second series in April.

Watch Save Me on NOW TV. Save Me Too stars on 1 April.

Little Boy Blue

Based on the true story of the murder of Rhys Jones, an 11-year-old boy, who was shot dead on his way home from football practice in Liverpool, Graham was cast as Detective Superintendent Dave Kelly, who investigated the case. He received a Royal Television Society award for his work on the show, which the judges called “Unquestionably brilliant, showing extraordinary range and skill”.

Little Boy Blue is being repeated on ITV from Sunday, May 24.

 

Code 404 is streaming on NOW TV.