Brendan Coyle (born David Coyle; 2 December 1963) is an English-Irish actor. He won the Olivier Award for Best Performance in a Supporting Role for The Weir in 1999. He also played Nicholas Higgins in the miniseries North & South, Robert Timmins in the first three series of Lark Rise to Candleford, and more recently Mr Bates, the valet, in Downton Abbey, which earned him a nomination for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series and a BAFTA nomination for Best Supporting Actor
Coyle was born in Corby, Northamptonshire, to an Irish father and Scottish mother. Due to his British birth and Irish parentage, he holds dual British and Irish citizenship. He is a great-nephew of football manager Sir Matt Busby.
He studied drama in Dublin in 1981 and received a scholarship to Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in the United Kingdom in 1983.
Brendan Coyle received a Laurence Olivier Award in 1999 for his performance in Conor McPherson's The Weir and won a New York Critics Theater World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut for the same play in its New York production. In 2001, Coyle appeared in the film Conspiracy as Gestapo Chief Heinrich Müller. He played Kaz Sweeney in the British drama, True Dare Kiss, and Nicholas Higgins in North & South for the BBC.
From 2008 he played Robert Timmins in three BBC series based on the Lark Rise to Candleford novels, written by Flora Thompson. In 2010, he began playing John Bates, valet and former British Army batman to the Earl of Grantham in Julian Fellowes's period drama series, Downton Abbey. Fellowes wrote the part for Coyle, and it won him nominations for a BAFTA and IFTA, as well as a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Awards as Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series in 2012.He also won three Screen Actors Guild Awards 2013-16. Coyle also played the character of Terry Starling in the short-lived Sky comedy series Starlings.
Coyle divides his time between London and Norfolk.