Wil Johnson

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Wil Johnson
Wilbert Charles Johnson

(1965-04-18) 18 April 1965 (age 58)
Years active1985–present
Known forWaking the Dead
Height5 ft 9 in (1.75m)
Alexandra Spiegel
(m. 2001; div. 2010)
Camilla Johnson
(m. 2014)

Wilbert Charles Johnson (born 18 April 1965) is an English actor, who has had notable television roles in Waking the Dead and Babyfather, and on stage in Othello. He played Dom Andrews in Emmerdale from 2012 to 2014.

Early life

Johnson was born in Muswell Hill, London, and raised in Tottenham.[1] His mother invested in stocks and his father worked for UPS.[2] Johnson had no interest in music while he was in primary school, but after he filled in a role for an absent drummer, he changed his mind.[3] He went to Mountview Drama School in Crouch End, London. He also joined another drama group at the Haringey Theatre. He also went to a dance group and learned ballet, contemporary dancing, and break dancing, which he performed for about seven years. He also attended National Youth Theatre for three years.[1]


Johnson's first professional acting role came in the play Four Seasons at the 1985 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.[2] For the rest of the 1980s he made minor appearances in television series such as Casualty and London's Burning, before playing detective Stevie Johnson in the London Weekend Television series Anna Lee. From 1994 to 1995 he played the supporting role of Detective Constable Michael Skelton in Cracker. Between roles, Johnson worked for a local undertakers, driving the hearse and acting as a pallbearer.[citation needed]

In 2000, he appeared in the BBC One television pilot Waking the Dead, as Detective Sergeant Spencer Jordan, a member of a specialised police unit tasked with investigating "cold cases". Waking the Dead returned for a complete series in 2001, and Johnson was a main cast member until the series ended in 2011. From 2000 to 2002, he appeared as Steve Robinson in Paul Abbott's popular drama series Clocking Off. From 2001 to 2002, he appeared as a main cast member in two series of the BBC's Babyfather.[4]

In 2004, Johnson played the title character in the Royal Lyceum Theatre Company's Othello.

He also played Marcus Kirby in the BBC One school-based drama Waterloo Road. He departed in the second half of the series.

In 2010, he appeared in In a Better World (film) as 'Dr. Najeeb'.[5]

He also performed in a play, called The Swallowing Dark at the Liverpool Playhouse and Theatre503. In 2011, he also starred as gangster boss Big Mike in Anuvahood and in 2008 as Big Man in Adulthood

In November 2011, Johnson appeared as 'Sean Dolan' a Consultant paediatrician in BBC One's Holby City.[5]

In 2012, it was announced that Johnson would be joining Emmerdale as single father Dominic "Dom" Andrews in the later part of the year. On 23 February 2014, it was announced that he would be leaving the show later that year following the death of his character's daughter, Gemma (Tendai Rinomhota).[6]

In 2013, he appeared as a gangster in a film thriller called Life Outside.[5] He also was a special guest DJ at a 'MonologueSlam' event (actors showcase) at 'The Green Carnation' cocktail lounge, Soho.[7]

In 2013, he also co-produced with Christian Ashaiku a film called Disorientated Generation (about a Nigerian man living in London). The film was partially funded by Enfield Council,[1] with a small grant from UK Film Council. The film was originally shot in 2006.[8]

In 2016, Johnson was cast as the Earl of Kent in the Talawa Theatre Company and Royal Exchange Manchester co-production of King Lear.[9] Johnson received praise for his performance, with The Guardian writing "giving depth to straight simplicity"[10] and the Manchester Theatre Awards saying that "... wrongest servant Kent is played with passion and often with humour by Wil Johnson". [11]

In 2016, Johnson received the British Urban Film Festival honorary award from fellow actor Charles Venn for 30+ years outstanding contribution to film and television.

He is an advocate of colour-blind casting in British television:

There are a lot more black and Asian actors who the nation knows by name, which is fantastic [...] [Colour-blind casting] happens regularly in theatre, but in mainstream television it could be implemented a lot more. I'm tentative to use the word 'stereotyping', because a lot of the black roles emerging on television I wouldn't categorise as stereotypical: my role in Waking the Dead certainly wasn't.[12]

Personal life

Johnson has six children.[2] His eldest daughter is composer, singer, songwriter and cellist Ayanna Witter-Johnson.[13]

Johnson married his wife Camilla in 2014.


Year Film Role Director / Notes
2000 Hidden Treasure Luke
2008 Adulthood Big Man Noel Clarke
2010 In a Better World Dr Najeeb Susanne Bier
2010 Pimp Byron Robert Cavanah
2011 Anuvahood Big Mike Adam Deacon
2013 Life Outside Charles Martin J. Thomas


Year TV Series Role Notes
1987 Casualty Bit part
1988 London's Burning Bit part
1994 Anna Lee Stevie Johnson
1994–1995 Cracker Detective Constable Michael Skelton
2000–2011 Waking the Dead Detective Sergeant Spencer Jordan Final episode was on 11 April 2011
2000–2002 Clocking Off Steve Robinson
2001–2002 Babyfather Beres
2010–2011 Waterloo Road Marcus Kirby Series 6
2011–2012 Holby City Sean Dolan Plays a Consultant paediatrician
2012–2014 Emmerdale Dominic Andrews
2014-Present Outlander Joe Abernathy
2016 Hollyoaks Lionel Albright 2 episodes; Played Jade's and Sonia's father
2018 Vera Gary Whenchutch 1 episode
2022 House of the Dragon Vaemond Velaryon


  1. ^ a b c Eluka, Clare (12 October 2013). "Interview Wil Johnson". www.thepromota.co.uk. Retrieved 4 February 2014.
  2. ^ a b c Staff (15 May 2009). "Since I started singing on YouTube I've thought of nothing else...". Evening Telegraph (Coventry Newspapers): pp. 30–31.
  3. ^ Peake, Jon (30 June 2001). "Dead not buried". The Sun (News Group Newspapers): p. 15.
  4. ^ "Babyfather". www.bbc.co.uk. BBC Drama. October 2008. Retrieved 4 December 2013.
  5. ^ a b c "Wil Johnson – (In A Better World – 2010)". mattjhorn.wordpress.com. 6 September 2011. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  6. ^ Kilkelly, Daniel (25 October 2012). "'Emmerdale' announces four new characters". digitalspy.co.uk. Retrieved 1 April 2014.
  7. ^ "Wil Johnson special guest DJ for Welcome 20th July". triforcepromotions.co.uk. Retrieved 7 December 2013.
  8. ^ Morris, Davina (25 April 2010). "different face of black British film-making". jamaica-gleaner.com. Retrieved 26 February 2013.
  9. ^ "Full casting announced for King Lear at Royal Exchange". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  10. ^ Brennan, Clare (10 April 2016). "King Lear review – two Lears acting up a storm". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  11. ^ "King Lear". Retrieved 11 February 2017.
  12. ^ Green, Chris (25 February 2008). "'Why TV makes me depressed'". The Independent (Independent News & Media): p. 4.
  13. ^ Grant, Dionne (8 February 2014). "Ayanna Witter-Johnson: String sensation | The Voice Online". The Voice Online. Retrieved 10 December 2021.

External links