Television: Tommy’s first major break came when he was cast as the first actor with Down’s Syndrome to play a lead in a primetime TV drama, starring opposite Nicholas Hoult in Mark Haddon’s brilliant feature-length BBC drama Coming Down the Mountain. The writer, Mark Haddon says Tommy was the inspiration behind the project. Tommy’s performance was widely praised and the film was nominated for a Television BAFTA for ‘Best single Drama’ before winning the RADAR People of the Year Human Rights MEDIA Award 2008. Accepting the RADAR award with Producer Roanna Benn
‘I found Jessop absolutely riveting, utterly charming, a remarkable performance’ Saturday Review BBC Radio 4
Tommy has since appeared in Casualty, Holby City, Monroe, Doctors, Off their Rockers and starred in several BBC documentaries. In Casualty Tommy was guest lead in two episodes. His character almost managed to burn down the hospital, but then saved the day incurring a dramatic injury to his arm on the way. In Holby his character had to make an important decision about whether to have a potentially dangerous operation. His character made his own decision against the wishes of his Mother, and turned out also to be planning a move to living independently with a girlfriend!
Film: Tommy’s film work includes The Damned United, Day of the Flowers, Freddie’s Story and playing the lead in various dramatic short films. He won Best Actor at several film festivals for his role in Down & Out, and his film ‘Fighter‘ in which he played the title role, won Best film at FilmLondon and was premiered at the London Film Festival.
Radio: Tommy has had a brilliant time starring in various radio productions for BBC Radio4, and working with some of his heroes. He was guest lead in an episode of Stone with Hugo Speer. He played the lead in The Climb opposite Warwick Davies, which was recorded while the actors were actually climbing, and appeared in an episode of The Archers, playing Callum Longfield.
Stage: Tommy also made history when he became the first professional actor with Down’s syndrome to play the lead role Hamlet in a tour to mainstream theatres across the south of England
Tommy Jessop held me spellbound… a real and profound connection with the work. His delivery of the scene in which Hamlet encounters his uncle Claudius at prayer and debates whether or not to kill him was superb. You could hear a pin drop! Stuart Mills DSA
Tommy then worked with the amazing and generous Mark Rylance and the Globe Theatre performing in their in What You Will: Pop-Up Shakespeare in 2012 and continuing to perform in their Sonnet Walks in 2013 and 2014.
Mark kindly described Tommy’s ‘performance of Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” as ‘phenomenal’. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/culturenews/9505614/Shakespeare-flashmob-ambushes-Londoners-with-pop-up-performance.html
In 2015 Tommy played Don Pedro in Blue Apple Theatre’s ‘Much Ado About Nothing’ which toured to RADA, The Minack Theatre, Jersey Arts, The Salisbury Playhouse, The Mill in Guildford and other venues in southern England.
As a founder member of the award-winning Blue Apple Theatre company, Tommy has appeared in all their productions. In 2010 he played Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In 2011 He was Mayor in Gogol’s The Government Inspector. In May 2012 Hamlet, and in July 2013 he played M Paillardin in Feydeau’s farce The Hotel. Also in 2013 and 2014 Tommy played the role of Bobby, a victim of hate crime in Living Without Fear, Blue Apple Theatre’s touring production about disability hate crime.
Dance: Tommy is now working with the inspirational Daniel Vais and the Culture Device Dance Project, which is based in London
Documentary: Recently Tommy presented a 10 minute documentary on BBC Inside Out South. Tommy also frequently collaborates with his brother, the writer and filmmaker William Jessop. In February 2014, Tommy was one of the stars of Growing Up Down’s, a documentary about Blue Apple Theatre’s touring production of Hamlet, that William produced and directed for BBC3. Tommy played the title role. The film was described as “BBC Three at its very best” and in November 2014 won the Creative Diversity Network Award for Most Groundbreaking Programme and in 2015 was nominated for an International. Emmy : Best documentary. ‘A Triumph….’ The Times.
Tommy Jessop and his brother, film maker William Jessop, receiving the Creative Diversity Network Award for Most Groundbreaking Programme from Gok Wan and Jonathan Ross
In 2007, the brothers made the broadcast documentary Tommy’s Story for the Community Channel (UK). William filmed Tommy behind the scenes of Coming Down the Mountain and Holby City, and was shortlisted for Best Newcomer at the Grierson Awards 2008.
Public speaking: Tommy will accept guest engagements and has spoken to audiences of several hundred people.