Born in Leicester, he went to Brockington College and he then attended the Pattison College in Coventry, then studied acting at the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA). At 17 he joined a circus in Budapest for 8 weeks to gain his Equity Card. His first major role was in the BBC drama Sparkhouse (2002). After a variety of supporting roles in the TV productions of Between The Sheets, Cold Feet (series 5), and Ultimate Force (Series 2), he landed his first leading role, that of John Thornton in the BBC drama North and South based on the novel by Elizabeth Gaskell. It was this role that immediately won him an enthusiastic following among female viewers.

In 2005, he was seen in Macbeth, part of the BBC's ShakespeaRe-Told series. He starred in the BBC's The Impressionists, in which he played the young Claude Monet, and as Dr Alec Track in ITV's The Golden Hour.

He has appeared on stage in Royal Shakespeare Company productions and also in various musicals, including Cats.

In 2006 Armitage took on the major role of Sir Guy of Gisborne in the BBC series Robin Hood. He also appeared in a two-part Christmas special of The Vicar of Dibley, as Harry Kennedy - the vicar's new love interest (and eventual husband).

On 8 April 2007 he starred in George Gently, a one-off detective drama, with Martin Shaw and Lee Ingleby. Armitage played biker Ricky Deeming.

On 9 May, he appeared in the BBC Four production of Miss Marie Lloyd - Queen of The Music Hall as part of their 'Edwardian' season in May 2007. He played Marie Lloyd's 1st husband, Percy Courtenay. Also, he also appeared in the Granada TV production of Agatha Christie's novel 'Ordeal by Innocence'. He plays the character of Philip Durrant. He found time during filming for Robin Hood to present the Best Drama Serial award at the BAFTAs

Source : Wikipedia : Richard Armitage