Brendan Coyle (birth name David) was born on 2 December 1963 in Corby, Northamptonshire, England, UK. His Northern Irish father and Scottish mother earlier emigrated from Strabane, County Tyrone, Ireland to settle in the Midlands. Brendan's father, a master butcher, ran a shop in Rugby, Warwickshire, where Brendan began learning the trade as a young man. After Coyle left school in 1979, he worked as a meat trimmer in the butcher shop, until his father’s untimely death when Brendan was 17.
Becoming interested in acting after seeing Richard III at the Belgrade Theatre in Coventry as a teen, Brendan moved to Dublin, Ireland in 1981 to begin studying drama at the Focus Theatre's Acting Studio. His cousin, Mary Elizabeth Burke-Kennedy, co-founded the theatre in the 1960s and ran it with Deirdre O’Connell, an Irish-American woman who had studied at the Strasberg Institute in New York. In 1983, he earned a scholarship to the London Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts, auditioning with Philadelphia, Here I Come!, before a panel including Judi Dench and Twiggy. Brendan received the largest scholarship the Academy had ever given at the time, and he returned years later to direct plays for Mountview Academy.
Afterward, Brendan toured Ireland as a stage manager with the Trapdoor Theatre Company, gaining a few bit parts in the process. He also toured Ireland with Rough Magic and toured Europe as a member of Leeds Laughing Stock Children's Crusade Theatre Company. Acting in fringe and pub theatre, Brendan appeared in primarily Irish plays, both in Britain and Ireland, including Stephen Daldry’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist in 1987. He moved on to play Christie Mahon in Playboy of the Western World and Private Gar in Dan Crawford’s Philadelphia, Here I Come! in 1992.
Also in 1992, he made his television debut with small roles in the made-for-TV movie "Fool's Gold: The Story of the Brink's-Mat Robbery" and on the ITV series "The Bill". He also moved from primarily Irish short films into feature films in the nineties, while eventually landing larger television roles, including Nicholas Higgins in "North & South" and Robert Timmins in "Lark Rise to Candleford".
He continued to act on the stage, winning the 1999 Laurence Olivier Award for Best Supporting Actor for his role as the barman, Brendan, in Conor McPherson’s multi award-winning play The Weir. Following its West End run, the Royal Court production transferred to New York, where Coyle also won a Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut.
He is currently appearing as John Bates, a lame valet, in the period drama series, "Downton Abbey", for which the cast won the 2013 Best Ensemble Screen Actors Guild Award. The show previously won 2 BAFTAs, 9 Emmys, 2 Golden Globes, 2 National Television Awards and a Broadcast award. Brendan has personally received BAFTA, IFTA, and Primetime Emmy nominations for his role. In 2012, he was presented with the Basauri Award for Excellence in the Performing Arts in Spain. Brendan also appears in Noble, the Christina Noble biopic, which recently premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival and contributed his voice to A Vision: A LIfe of WB Yeats, premiered at the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival.
Brendan has generously donated a great deal of his time to various charities. He is an honorary patron of the Origin Theatre in New York, including 1st Irish, which is a celebration of the best of Irish theatre. Additionally, he is a Performing Arts Patron at The King’s Lynn Arts Centre in Norfolk, and supports Arts Educational Schools, London. Coyle also supports Centrepoint, the UK's leading charity for homeless young people, Work-wise, which helps young people find jobs, and serves as an ambassador for Prostaid, a prostate cancer charity. Brendan is also a patron of Lakelands Hospice in Corby, and narrated a documentary film for their benefit.
He has done adverts for TK Maxx's "Give Up Clothes For Good" campaign, the World Food Programme, and the Macmillan Cancer Centre. Further, he has read for the Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, which provides care to sick children and RAPt, which works to help people with drug and alcohol dependence. He has spoken out for the Christina Noble Children's Foundation and, along with the cast and crew of Downton Abbey, helped raise funds for Merlin, the UK medical relief charity and Acting For Others, an annual fund-raising event for all theatrical charities. Finally, along with the cast of Mojo, he contributed to a video to raise funds for Water Aid, which seeks to provide clean water to communities across the world.
Brendan has an older brother and is a great-nephew of legendary football manager Sir Matt Busby of Manchester United F. C. fame. He has maintained a life-long love of football and enjoys cooking, music, and literature.