Born and raised in The Black Country, Cliff left school at 16 and for the following decade worked in a number of jobs that he was thoroughly unsuited to – motor industry clerk, betting office manager, barman, insurance salesman – until being offered a place at what was then The Birmingham School of Speech Training and Dramatic Art, now better branded as The Birmingham School of Acting.
After three years, clutching a Licensiate Diploma in Acting awarded to him by Diana Dors and Alan Lake, he entered the world of the jobbing actor at precisely the time that the repertory system he’d been looking forward to working within was dying on its feet. Luckily, there were still some properly-funded companies around at that time doing good quality work in what’s known as “small-scale touring” and it was into that life of get-ins, get-outs, driving the van and, if you’d got a spare couple of hours do a bloody good production of “Measure for Measure”, that he enthusiastically threw himself into. Happily, some of those companies still survive – among them the canal-touring Mikron Theatre Company, Solent People’s Theatre and Wolverhampton’s excellent Zip Theatre – all of them still producing fantastic work, all of them struggling for funding to stay afloat.
In 1993 Cliff made his first venture into the world of television, joining the cast of Anglia’s award-winning adventure series “Knightmare” to play Lissard, an Atlantean amphibian “baddie”! After two series and a number of episodes of the producer’s other show “Timebusters” other television work started coming through and that has continued through the years; most recent appearances have been in ITV’s ever-popular “Coronation Street”, “Law & Order: UK”, again for ITV, and HBO’s internationally successful “Game of Thrones”. There’s also been a number of commercials in the UK and abroad, three feature films and a lot of work in the corporate training world.
Theatre remains his passion (and he wishes that he’d done far more of it over the years) with highlights that include playing MacBeth, Pozzo in “Waiting for Godot”, Jean Valjean in Red Shift’s excellent adaptation of “Les Miserables” and the title role in “The Tipton Slasher”. For many years he’d harboured a desire to take a one-man show on the road, to be alone on a stage taking an audience on a journey, and that has taken much of his time over the past two years with his self-penned show that tells the intriguing tale of a key figure in modern history: Jack Ruby, the so-called “man who killed the man who killed the President” in his acclaimed production “You All Know Me, I’m Jack Ruby!”.