Head is widely known for his role as Rupert Giles in the American television drama series Buffy the Vampire Slayer, as Frank N Furter in the London revival of The Rocky Horror Show, as King Uther in the BBC Wales series Merlin and for a series of early-1990s coffee commercials in the United Kingdom and the U.S.
In UK productions, he is commonly credited simply as Anthony Head, or occasionally Tony Head.
Head began his association with the Doctor Who franchise when he was considered for the role of the Eighth Doctor. He auditioned for the role in the 1996 TV movie. He also topped a 2004 poll on who the fans wanted to play the Ninth Doctor when the return of the series was announced.
In terms of televised Doctor Who, he is best known for playing Brother Lassar in the 2006 episode School Reunion. He also voiced the villain Baltazar in The Infinite Quest, an animated serial initially produced in 2007 for Totally Doctor Who.
Head has narrated a number of BBC-sponsored documentaries about Doctor Who, including the BBC 2 documentary Regeneration, and the BBC Audio release Project WHO?. He narrated series 2 of Doctor Who Confidential.
Head was born in Camden Town, London. He grew up in Hampton, near Richmond upon Thames in London. His father was Seafield Head, the founder of Verity Films and his mother was the actress Helen Shingler. His older brother is actor and singer Murray Head who originated the role of Judas on the original album of 'Jesus Christ Superstar'. Both brothers played the part of Freddy Trumper in the musical Chess at the Prince Edward Theatre, London, with Murray a part of the original cast in 1986, whilst Anthony was in the final cast in 1989.
Head was educated at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). His first role was in the musical Godspell; this led to roles in television on both BBC and ITV, one of his earliest being an appearance in the series Enemy at the Door (ITV, 1978–1980). In the late 1980s, he appeared in a series of twelve coffee commercials with Sharon Maughan for Nescafé Gold Blend (re-edited to include brand name Taster's Choice in the US and Canada), which brought him wider recognition; the commercials were notable for featuring an ongoing romantic storyline between Head and Maughan's characters. He also appeared in the Children's ITV comedy drama Woof!.
Success on the stage and a number of brief appearances on American television, such as in the short-lived VR-5 and a guest role in the Highlander television series, led to accepting the role of Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer in 1997. For this role he lived full-time in the United States during the late 1990s and early 2000s, although his family continued to live in the UK. Head left the regular cast of Buffy during the show's sixth season and subsequently appeared several times as a guest star. In many interviews at the time, Head said he left the show to spend more time with his family having realised that he had spent most of the year outside of England for more than half his youngest daughter's life. He now lives in Bath with his long term partner, Sarah Fisher (a former theatre administrator) whom he met when he was twenty-eight. They are the parents of actresses Emily Head and Daisy Head.
The script of School Reunion contains a reference to Head's involvement with Joss Whedon's Buffy series when his character Finch utters the unusual line, "Get the shooty dog thing" when ordering his minions to attack K9; such unusual turns of phrases are considered a Whedon trademark. (The phrase later inspired the title of a Doctor Who fanzine and book series.)
In 2002, he co-starred in the BBC Two television series Manchild, about four fifty-something men who spend all of their time talking about sex. He also appeared in guest roles in various other dramas, such as Silent Witness, Murder Investigation Team and Spooks. He featured as the Prime Minister in popular BBC comedy sketch show Little Britain from 2003 to 2005 and guest starred in several episodes of the 2004 series of the popular drama Monarch of the Glen.
Outside of television work, he has released an album of songs with musician George Sarah entitled Music for Elevators. Early in his career he provided vocals for some of the tracks on the Chris de Burgh album The Getaway and the reading from The Tempest on Don't Pay The Ferryman.
In early 2006 he appeared in an episode of Hotel Babylon, a BBC One drama set in a hotel, in which he played a suicidal man who recovers and lands a music deal. The same year he filmed a pilot for a new show entitled Him and Us, loosely based on the life of openly gay rock star Elton John for American TV channel ABC, co-starring Kim Cattrall. In July he appeared as Captain Hook at the Children's Party at the Palace, a live pantomime staged in the grounds of Buckingham Palace as part of Queen Elizabeth II's eightieth birthday celebrations. In October 2006, he voiced Ponsonby, leader of M16, in the video game Destroy All Humans! 2. He's also lent his vocal talents to the Star Trek franchise in a minor way, narrating the The Rise and Fall of Khan Noonien Singh, Vol. 1 audiobook.
Most recently, he put his musical talents to work as the sinister Repo Man in the SF cult film Repo: The Genetic Opera and in 2008 took on the role of King Uther Pendragon on the BBC fantasy series Merlin, which aired in the UK in 2008, and became the one of the first UK-produced series since the 1960s to air on an American mainstream network when it aired on NBC in the summer of 2009. A second season of Merlin aired in the UK in the fall of 2009, with a third now in production, but generally poor ratings on NBC led to Merlin being moved to the NBC-affiliated cable network Syfy for its second season.
There is persistent talk of Head starring in a Buffy spin-off series for the BBC entitled Ripper, but so far nothing has come of this. Buffy series creator Joss Whedon said of the project in 2005: "It's something I really want to get off the ground, but the ground is kinda sticky."
Due to the death and subsequent post-resurrection de-ageing of Anthony Head's character in Buffy, all plans of this spin-off have been cancelled.