One of the most irritating things about watching TV is recognising an actor, but not knowing where you recognise them from. This is especially true for British talent who seem to pop up in a wide variety of places. As the third and final season of BBC Two sitcom Mum prepares to hit your screen, you may be wondering about the background of its hilarious stars. Particularly the man who plays the slightly dopey Jason. So just who is Sam Swainsbury?
It's rather difficult to find out much about Swainsbury's life — except for his previous roles. Even his age is a mystery. What the world does know is that he comes from Essex and is experienced in stage, TV, and film. According to his agent's website, he has appeared in 15 plays ranging from A Midsummer Night's Dream to The Twilight Zone.
Swainsbury has also starred in a famous Hollywood franchise. In 2013, he played a small role in Thor: The Dark World. Remember when Professor Erik Selvig (played by Stellan Skarsgård) was running around Stonehenge with no clothes on? Well, Swainsbury was the news presenter reporting on Selvig's seemingly bizarre behaviour. In the same year, the actor played an expectant father in Call the Midwife's Christmas special.
Bigger roles came a few years later. In 2017, Swainsbury appeared in a six-part ITV thriller series. Entitled Fearless, it focused on the story of a human rights lawyer trying to prove a convicted murderer's innocence. Swainsbury starred as the alleged killer, Kevin Russell.
Swainsbury's career has recently reached new heights. This year alone, he has starred in three separate productions. His film, Fisherman's Friends, is still in certain cinemas and tells the tale of a group of Cornish fishermen who entered the top 10 music charts.
He also appeared in an episode of Victoria as John Snow (no, not that one); a doctor who closely studied cholera. "I feel a responsibility to do this guy justice because he’s one of the nation’s unsung heroes," Swainsbury told What's on TV at the time. "It was believed then that [cholera] was air-borne but we see John discover it’s coming from the water in a single pump. People don’t take him seriously at first, but he becomes paramount in stopping the spread and helps save thousands of lives."
But it is the actor's role in Mum that has earned him national recognition. The sitcom is all about how to navigate relationships after losing a loved one. Lesley Manville plays widow Cathy while Swainsbury plays her son Jason. The first season aired in 2016 and the third — which begins this week — will keep you busy for the next six weeks.
According to Swainsbury, the final season of Mum is "a belter." He told What's on TV: "The scripts take a step up, they are the best so far. I don’t think it’ll disappoint. I’m so different from Jason though because I describe him as ‘slow of thought’ but in real life I’m suave and sophisticated!”
And if you're wondering whether it really is the last season, sadly it's true. Writer Stefan Golaszewski confirmed the news to Digital Spy, saying: "I mean, you could carry it on, I suppose, but you’d be doing it for all the wrong reasons. I didn’t want to flog it for the sake of it, and I don’t think that would be a very kind thing to do the audience either. If there isn’t a story to tell, don’t tell it."
Truer words were never spoken.
The final season of Mum starts on BBC Two at 10 p.m. on May 15.