He is best known for appearing in two British soap operas, Doctors, in which he played Dr. Nick West from 2006 until the character was run over and killed in 2008, and Emmerdale, in which he has played DC Nick Henshall over two separate periods from 2008 to 2011, until the character committed suicide. He has also appeared in a third soap opera, EastEnders as the hitman who supposedly killed Paul Trueman.
He is also known for playing D.S./D.I. Trevor Hands in two seasons of the ITV drama MIT: Murder Investigation Team, two seasons of Channel 4's Totally Frank and the BBC One series Blessed, playing Ronnie, a musician who appears to be modelled on Mick Jagger. He first came to prominence as the character of Tony in a series of British television commercials for the Peugeot 106 car, alongside Julie Graham and Annie Dunkley in the mid-1990s.
He has had guest appearances on A Touch of Frost and Kavanagh QC. He also starred in the cult film Essex Boys alongside Sean Bean as drug dealer Wayne Lovell.
McKell started his working life as a musician. He was the singer/songwriter for the band The Park, penning hits for Toyah, Dollar and Julien Clerc. His solo career after deals with Phomogram, WEA and EMI was cut short by a near fatal car crash in August 1991. Michael returned to the stage in Macbeth at The Lyric Hammersmith in the late 1990s. He has appeared in West End musicals, including Blood Brothers and fourteen months in the Rod Stewart musical Tonight's the Night, written and directed by Ben Elton. Elton later went on to write the character Ronnie for McKell in his BBC comedy Blessed.
In 1985 he toured as Michael St James with French star Julien Clerc and worked with legendary French singer/songwriter Serge Gainsbourg.
McKell released an EP, Shower Over Moon Street, in 2009 and performed tracks from his album Fragile at The Royal Albert Hall in November 2009. Fragile was released 25 July 2010.
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