Mr Townsend was born in August 1961 and studied Engineering and Maths at Trinity College, Dublin, where he first became interested in amateur dramatics, later co-founding the Rough Magic Theatre company with writer Declan Hughes and director Lynne Parker and going on to appear at both the Gate and Abbey Theatres in Dublin. In Britain he has appeared on stage to acclaim in Sam Mendes’ production of ‘The Plough and the Stars’, ‘Guys and Dolls’ for Richard Eyre and Rufus Norris’s ‘Under the Blue Sky’. Initially appearing on RTE Irish television he has been a familiar face on British screens, not only in Irish set dramas such as ‘Ballykissangel’ and ‘Rough Diamond’, a leading role as a wily race horse trainer, but in a whole raft of populist dramas including ‘Sherlock’, ‘Call the Midwife and ‘New Tricks, often in international roles, notably as Saddam Hussein in the one-off drama ‘Saddam’s Tribe’. He married the actress Orla Charlton, who appeared with him in ‘Ballykissangel’.
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