Michael Robert Socha was born on December 13, 1987 in Derby, Derbyshire, to mother Kathleen Lyons, a residential social worker, and father Robert Socha. He is the older brother of actress Lauren Socha, star of the Channel 4 comedy-drama Misfits.
He was brought up in Littleover, a suburb of Derby, and attended St. Benedict Catholic School. Michael proved to be a rebellious pupil, and in his own words, "a little shit". Often skipping school, but when forced to attend, he tried to find enjoyment out of the things that interested him most.
At the age of eleven, Michael unsuccessfully auditioned for the lead role of Bugsy Malone in a school musical play, but only landed the supporting role. When Michael turned twelve, his mother read in a local newspaper about a play being cast by the Chellaston Youth Players. She asked Michael and Lauren if they wanted to try out for it, and both did. Michael's motivation for auditioning was his anger at being denied the lead role in the previous musical and his desire to prove his teachers wrong about his acting skills. From auditioning, he nabbed the role of Bugsy Malone and went on to act in several other plays for the group, but by his own admission, did not take acting very seriously.
Through teachers at Michael's school the family learned about film director Ian Smith's Central Television Junior Workshop, a free actors' workshop for young people from the Nottingham area. Enrolling in the course at fourteen, Michael was nearly refused admission as he had failed to learn the monologue for his audition and was put in the "reserve group". His second audition went the same way, but the program relented and allowed him in after a time. Michael says the workshop had a strong impact on him, and he began working hard at acting. His first professional role came when he was cast in a small part in a short film. He was subsequently cast in several small parts, and hired an agent.
Michael's father had a long history of alcohol abuse, which caused his parents to separate. In 2004, when Michael was sixteen, his father died of an alcohol-related heart attack. According to his mother, the death of a parent made Michael very independent. She stated he was, "walking the streets of London at sixteen going to auditions. He had to because I was working. He'd go off with a map and tube fare."
Michael's schooling interests were drama, English and history courses and later received his GCSEs in all three subjects. He credits his teacher, Mrs. Urquhart-Hughes, as someone who not only watched over and motivated him, but also got him to do his homework after school.
His first job after leaving school was in a manufacturing factory, however, he hated it and as a result, quit to enroll at Burton College, a further education school. After graduating, he worked at two other factories, a car wash as well as a laborer for his uncle's bricklaying firm mixing mortar for the bricklayers. Nonetheless, Michael constantly put work on hold in order to attend auditions. Finally, he quit working full-time to dedicate himself to acting.
Michael's breakthrough role came early in his acting career. In 2006, he was cast as the bully Harvey in Shane Meadows' skinhead subculture film, This Is England, followed by a 2008 role in Kenneth Glenaan's BAFTA Scotland-award-winning film Summer, where he acted opposite Robert Carlyle. The same year, he appeared in Duane Hopkins' film Better Things and the independent small-budget comedy Dogging: A Love Story with a three episode appearance on the BBC One medical drama Casualty. In February 2009, he made his stage debut at Nottingham Playhouse in Glamour, a comedy by Stephen Lowe. The same year, he appeared in an episode of the science fiction police drama Paradox on BBC One and in the made-for-television film The Unloved for Channel 4.
Despite his initial success, he was "penniless" and "waiting for work" for much of 2009 and early 2010, sitting at home and watching daytime television. His next big break came when Shane Meadows asked him to reprise the role of Harvey the bully for a four-part 2010 television series, This Is England '86, following the lives of the characters three years after the events depicted in the original 2006 film, for Channel 4. That same year, Michael appeared in an episode of the hit television comedy Married Single Other as well as the film Bonded by Blood. He also reprised his This Is England character once more for a Christmas special.
He garnered good critical attention for his portrayal of innocent werewolf Tom McNair in BBC Three's 2011 hit supernatural series Being Human, and was later upgraded from a recurring role to the main cast for the fourth season.
- Has a fondness for French cinema and reality shows like Big Brother.
- Favorite football team is Derby County.
- Appeared in the 2011 music video for Lauren Pritchard's Stuck.
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