Paul Kaye Shardlake

Shardlake’s Paul Kaye on death of family member who was killed in violent attack

The actor has been dogged by tragedies in real life

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Paul Kaye has played villains, heroes, fan favourite pathologist Dr Malcolm Donahue in Vera, and now Brother Jerome in Shardlake – but his real life has been as dramatic as some of his roles.

The actor has brushed with serious tragedy in his life, including his mother’s tragic battle with cancer, and his mother-in-law’s shock death in a violent attack.

Paul, who also had a sad childhood, made his name playing rude alter-ego Dennis Pennis, who he later revealed he “hated”. Here’s everything you need to know about the Shardlake actor Paul Kaye

Vera and Malcom in Vera series 12
Paul Kaye played pathologist Dr Malcolm Donahue in Vera from 2019 to 2023 (Credit: ITV)

Why did Paul Kaye leave Vera?

Vera fans bid farewell to Paul’s character Dr Malcolm Donahue in the first episode of series 12, Against the Tide, in 2023. The dour and dry-witted Malcolm left after three seasons on the show.

Paul joined as pathologist Malcolm back in series 9 (2019), and left in the first episode of series 12. While Paul didn’t give a reason for leaving the show, Vera star Brenda Blethyn shared that he would be missed.

She said: “We say goodbye to the wonderful Paul Kaye as pathologist Dr Malcolm Donahue in the third new film Against the Tide. Paul is one of the most positive people I know. No matter what the circumstances, he’ll find something positive to say.

“There was total respect between Vera and Malcolm along with some very dry humour from him.”

What happened to Paul Kaye’s mother-in-law?

Paul Kaye tragically lost his mother-in-law in a missile attack. He’s been open about the tragic loss of his wife’s mum. She died in the attack in Kibbutz Gvar-am, Israel, which lies 5km to the north of Gaza.

In 2008, Shuli “had been blown to pieces by a rocket in Israel”. Shuli had escaped Germany for Palestine when Hitler came to power.

Paul wrote in The Guardian: “When I heard in the days that followed Shuli’s death that they handed out sweets in Gaza to celebrate the fact that the rocket had hit a target, I was appalled.”

He later reflected on the retaliation attacks on Gaza: “Now with all I have seen over the last two weeks in Gaza, part of me feels: why wouldn’t they celebrate?”

He added: “It (Israel) has to do the right thing, to help build a strong Palestinian state where people can live normal lives, work, feed their kids, be happy, safe, have dignity.”

Patrick Kats frowns in The Stranger
Paul Kaye impressed fans as Patrick Katz in The Stranger (Credit: Netflix)

How did Paul Kaye’s mum die?

Sadly, Paul lost his own mother, Jackie, to cancer just five months before the death of his mother-in-law.

Again, writing in The Guardian, he said of his mum’s death: “I’m just pleased we were together when she died. I sang David Bowie’s Wild is the Wind, and stroked her belly as she went.

“It was our favourite Bowie song. I think that’s probably as lovely as death gets.”

Is Paul Kaye married? Who is Paul’s wife?

Paul Kaye has been married to Israeli wife, Orly Katz, for more than three decades. They met when they were just 18 and both living in Tel Aviv. They married in 1989.

Paul wrote in The Guardian: “I fell for my wife after seeing her being thrown out of a dining room by her father for being drunk and disorderly.”

When Orly ran away from the army (compulsary service in Isreal), the pair got married and moved to England. However, Paul and his wife split up after their first son, Jordy, was born in 1998. Three years later, in 2001, the pair got back together.

Paul said: “The split was very acrimonious but during the gap we got our careers together. We never divorced; I don’t think we ever stopped loving each other. We’re very happy now.”

They also have a second son, named Geffen.

Dennis smiles with a mic in the bushes
Paul became famous for playing the obnoxious character of Dennis Pennis (Credit: BBC)

Is Paul Kaye a twin? Is he adopted?

Paul’s parents gave him up for adoption, along with his twin sister Lisa. Jackie and Ivan Kaye adopted them.

He grew up in Wembley where his adoptive parents reportedly ran a sportswear shop. Although not much is known about Paul’s childhood, we do know that he was raised in an orthodox Jewish family.

Did Paul Kaye play Dennis Pennis?

Paul Kaye came to fame playing extremely offensive celebrity interviewer character Dennis Pennis.

The character was created by Paul and his friend Anthony Hines, and it launched Paul’s career. Paul’s alter-ego got his own TV series, and regularly appeared on BBC’s The Sunday Show, where Dennis Pennis would “torture” celebrities – from Hugh Grant to Arnold Schwarzenegger.

But Paul later admitted he “hated” doing the character, and was glad he moved on from it. He said: “It seemed like a good idea. But I hated doing it.

“Now it’s family, sanity and work, in that order.”

The Psychiatrist holds his hands together in Afterlife
Paul Kaye appeared in the first two series of After Life (Credit: Netflix)

How old is Shardlake actor Paul Kaye? Where is he from?

Paul Kaye was born on December 15, 1964, in Clapham, London, with his twin sister Lisa.

He is currently 59 years of age.

Why did Paul Kaye leave After Life?

After Life fans were heartbroken when Paul Kaye did not return for the third series of the show as the unnamed

Paul played the totally insensitive psychiatrist in the first two series of the show, and was known for talking about his own problems rather than listening to his patients!

While Paul never gave a reason for not returning to the role, it was reported that scheduling conflicts meant he was unable to film series 3.

Paul Kaye as Malcolm in Vera
Paul Kaye as Malcolm in Vera (Credit: ITV1)

Who did he play in EastEnders?

Paul popped up in a small cameo role in EastEnders back in 2007! Appearing in just one episode, he played Douglas Baker in the BBC One soap.

Douglas was a family friend of Dot Cotton. A former vicar, he had lost his faith in God.

Douglas and Dot had an argument about religion where he told Dot that her son Nick would be glad when she’s gone!

What else has Vera star Paul Kaye been in?

Since hanging up Dennis Pennis’ colourful suits and thick-rimmed spectacles, Paul Kaye moved on to more serious acting.

Game of Thrones fans will know him as Thoros of Myr. Although he only appeared in 10 episodes, his character made a big impact as the Red Priest.

He subsequently met a dramatic end in series 7, when he was frozen to death!

Paul also received critical acclaim for playing DC Patrick Katz in Netflix‘s thriller The Stranger.

You might also recognise him as Jim Winshaw from the BAFTA-winning mini-series Three Girls, or artist Francis Foulkes in HBO’s Pennyworth. He also played Rick Purdey in Netflix’s film Bank of Dave.

More recently, he’s played Ralph Ratclyff in The Completely Made-Up Adventures of Dick Turpin, opposite Noel Fielding. Paul also played Stan Higgins in the recent TV version of the film Sexy Beast.

Read more: Sean Bean’s rocky love life after being married five times – Corrie star wife, and accusations of domestic disturbances

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Shardlake is currently available to stream on Disney+.

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