He was born in Burma on 25th October 1956, the son of an international banker and spent the majority of his childhood in Kenya. After his schooling and a gap year travelling in Australia, he returned to the UK and considered becoming a lawyer. However he instead obtained work as a stage hand at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh and moved into the acting profession from there. After parts in Rockcliffe's Babies, Brookside and The Vet, he gained his first notable role in the Granada soap Albion Market and a leading role in 1992 in Moon and Son opposite Millicent Martin. His most famous part to date has been as DI Robbie Ross in Taggart, a part he played for over ten years starting in 1998.
After leaving Coronation Street John Michie joined the medical drama Holby City as neurosurgeon Guy Self, and guest appeared as the character in the sister show Casualty.