Born in Birmingham and brought up in Manchester, John Shrapnel joined the National Theatre (under Laurence Olivier) playing many classical roles, including Banquo and Orsino. With the Royal Shakespeare Company he has appeared in classical Greek theatre as well as numerous Shakespearean plays. His television work varies from Vanity Fair and Stoppard's Professional Foul to Inspector Morse and Hornblower. Films include Nicholas and Alexandra, One Hundred and One Dalmations and the role of Gaius in Gladiator. He has read A Life of Dante for Naxos AudioBooks and assumed the role of Bach in Naxos Educational Educational's Life and Works of Bach.