Jack Ellis was born on 4th June 1955 in London, the younger brother of actor Robin Ellis (Poldark). He followed his brother into the acting business, first appearing on television in the mid-1980s frequently playing policemen in series such as Inspector Morse, The Bill and Lovejoy. He had film roles in productions like Unfinished Business, Remember Me, Emoh Ruo and Hollywood Heartbreak while on stage he appeared with the Royal Shakespeare Company in Twelfth Night among other plays.

He first came to prominence when he played the part of Jack Fenner, the villainous warder in the Brian Park produced prison drama Bad Girls, playing the part for six years and eighty-eight episodes between 1999 and 2005. He made his debut in Coronation Street in December 2007 as Harry Mason, a somewhat crooked bookmaker. Expected to be a long-term character, his part was axed within five months and he made his final appearance in September 2008.