David Paisley

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David Paisley
David Paisley

(1979-02-02) 2 February 1979 (age 41)
Falkirk, Scotland
OccupationActor, singer
Years active2000–present
Parent(s)Janet Paisley

David Paisley (born 2 February 1979) is a Scottish actor, especially well known for roles as midwife Ben Saunders in Holby City, Ryan Taylor in Tinsel Town and most recently Rory Murdoch in River City. Some of his characters have been controversial due to their sexual orientation.[1]

Early life[edit]

Paisley grew up in Glen Village near Falkirk. At 15 he went to a gay youth group where he eventually met his first boyfriend. At 17, he went to Glasgow University to study physics,[2] during which time he appeared in a community workshop (part of 7:84 theatre company in Glasgow) and then later he went to Caledonian University to study Optometry. At 18, Paisley finally came out to his family who were supportive and helped in his efforts campaigning against the Keep the Clause campaign.[3]


Paisley began acting as a teenager when he heard about an open audition for television drama Tinsel Town, a 1999-2000 television drama (co-produced by BBC Scotland and Raindog/Deep Indigo Productions). He went on to play one of the main characters, Ryan Taylor, the 17-year-old boyfriend of a police officer.

Later he appeared in a few stage productions. Then in 2002, he landed the part of gay midwife Ben Saunders in BBC1's popular medical soap Holby City.[2] Ben's kiss with his on-screen boyfriend attracted 114 complaints from viewers.[4]

In 2008 he starred in the short film Sweat,[5] which was screened at the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, and selected for screening at NewFest in New York, June 2008.

Paisley completed filming on his regular role as Rory Murdoch on BBC Scotland's River City, the son of gangster Lenny Murdoch and departed the show in 2009.

Paisley starred as 'Madam' Gary in the play The Backroom by Adrian Pagan at The Cock Tavern Theatre in Kilburn, London in March–May 2009,[6] where he provided a 'particularly credible' performance as his 'nervy and paranoid' character.[7]

In May 2009, he also starred as Michael in the successful stage production of Muhmah[8] at the HighTide Festival. In 2009–10, Paisley took to the stage again in the UK Tour of Over The Rainbow: The Eva Cassidy Story, in which he played the part of Dan Cassidy.[9]

In 2010 Paisley made his directorial debut with the play The Lasses, O (written by his mother Janet Paisley).[10] at the Edinburgh Festival.

He also starred as Rick in the 2010 horror film Unhappy Birthday.[11][12]

In 2013 Paisley starred in a short film produced for the Dutch Film Festival called Fall-out, described as a post-apocalyptic romantic comedy.[13]

In 2016 Paisley played the role of Saki in Katherine Rundell's Life According to Saki at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe;[14] the play went on to win the Carol Tambor Best of Edinburgh Award.[15]

In November 2019, he returned to River City as Rory Murdoch, back from the dead having faked his own suicide.[16]


Year Title Role Notes
2000 Tinseltown Ryan Taylor TV series (2 seasons)
2002 As If Glen TV series (1 episodes)
2002–03 Holby City Ben Saunders TV series (2 seasons)
2003 Casualty Ben Saunders TV series (6 episodes)
2006–09 2019– River City Rory Murdoch TV series (2 seasons)
2007 The Whistleblowers Paul McCallister TV series (1 episodes)
2008 Sweat Simon Short film
2010 Unhappybirthday Rick Film
2013 Fall-out Nate Short film
2016 EastEnders Tom Edwards TV series (1 episode)
2018 Rise of the Clans Robert the Bruce TV series (1 episode "The Bruce Supremacy")[17]

Personal life[edit]

Paisley is the son of author Janet Paisley, one of six sons.[18] Paisley was voted 'Britain's sexiest man' by readers of Gay Times magazine in 2003.[19] Paisley is a vegetarian.[20]


  1. ^ Bogs, Eric (2002), "XY meets David Paisley", XY Magazine, archived from the original on 21 November 2006, retrieved 2 November 2007
  2. ^ a b Hendry, Steven (10 February 2002). "I have never Ben so lonely; Says Holby star David". Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland). Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  3. ^ Mcgarvie, Lindsay (7 May 2000). "Pain and grief that the campaign has ignored". Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland). Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  4. ^ "Virgin Mary complaints rejected". news.bbc.co.uk. 29 April 2003. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  5. ^ Isaac, Tim (21 May 2012). "Candy Boy (DVD)". biggaypictureshow.com. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  6. ^ Jonathan Lovett (16 March 2009). "Reviews: The Backroom". The Stage. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  7. ^ Keith Myers (16 March 2009). "The Backroom". WhatsOnStage. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  8. ^ Michael Billington (5 May 2009). "Theatre: Guardians / Muhmah". The Guardian. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  9. ^ "David Paisley". Mandy Actors. Retrieved 25 March 2012.
  10. ^ Brown, Irene (2010), "The Lasses, O by Janet Paisley", Edinburgh Guide, retrieved 20 August 2010
  11. ^ Waygood, James (3 April 2011). "Film Review: Unhappy Birthday". sosogay.co.uk. Archived from the original on 25 April 2014. Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  12. ^ Ball, Simon (13 April 2017). "Amen Island (2011) AKA Unhappy Birthday". The Horror Hothouse. Retrieved 25 June 2019.
  13. ^ Saltmarsh, Abigail (4 July 2013). "Daniel Boys on glitz, glamour and High Society". eveningnews24.co.uk. Archived from the original on 24 April 2014. Retrieved 23 April 2014.
  14. ^ Fisher, Philip. "Life According to Saki". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved 23 January 2017.
  15. ^ McElroy, Stephen (26 August 2016). "'Life According to Saki,' a Play Set in World War I, Wins Edinburgh Award". nytimes.com. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  16. ^ Gibson, Andy. "RIVER CITY: MONDAY 16 DECEMBER 2019". The TV Chronicle. Retrieved 5 April 2020.
  17. ^ Didcock, Barry (9 December 2018). "A new telling of an old favourite". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 22 February 2019.
  18. ^ "Janet Paisley: Part One (1948-1981)". scottishwomenpoets.wordpress.com. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  19. ^ Mann, Jordan. "Preview: Fall-Out". gaytimes.co.uk. Archived from the original on 26 April 2014. Retrieved 25 April 2014.
  20. ^ Five Questions - David Paisley | Edinburgh Festival

External links[edit]