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Ryan Clark is one of the main characters of the HBO television series Avenue 5. He is portrayed by actor Hugh Laurie. Clark is the captain of space cruise ship Avenue 5 [1] though later revealed to be an actor hired to portray the captain.


HBO describes Ryan as "suave, outwardly confident, controlled, and personable," as well as "the man you want in charge of a crisis."[1] In reality Ryan has spent the majority of his career pretending he knows exactly what he's doing because this is what he was really employed for. Though outwardly friendly and confident he is totally isolated - until 'the incident' in episode one - from others due to the lie of his profession and only manages to befriend Billie because she knows the truth.


Clark is a fairly tall and slender man usually seen in his blue captain uniform, and is self described as in his late fifties. Ryan has neat, silvery hair, though this is later shown to be a hairpiece he wears to hide his balding head. In actuality Ryan has much scruffier, dark-gray hair with a bald spot at the crown of his head. Clark also has a beard which he keeps well groomed as well as pale blue eyes. He has been described as having a 'fuzzy charm' by Billie McEvoy He is almost always seen in his captain uniform which he wears in varying degrees of casual depending on his mood


Clark's job is basically to play the steadfast captain; a non-executive figure head. He provides a face that passengers can be comforted by and interact with rather than letting them panic about the ship being entirely automated. He is there as someone to give the Avenue ships a sense of camaraderie and safety.

Character Biography[]

Early Life[]

Ryan was born in England - most likely part of Generation Z - and started out his career in the wine trade before moving into acting.

Avenue 3[]

Clark 'captained' the Avenue 3 before being moved to the Avenue 5 under the orders of Herman Judd. He is repeatedly praised and applauded for putting out a fire aboard the ship, however, has continuously stated that he is not responsible for that, and that it was, in fact, a combination of the sprinkler system and the paramedics.

Avenue 5[]

After a sudden gravity shift, which flung everyone aboard against one side of the ship four weeks into their eight week voyage, the Avenue 5 was knocked off course significantly. This new trajectory meant three and a half years were added to their voyage time. As a result of this and the death of Joe, the First Engineer and 'real captain' as stated by Clark himself, Clark is forced to reveal he is an actor hired to make sure the passengers are kept happy to Billie McEvoy and accidentally later lets it slip to Karen Kelly. In actuality Clark has no idea how to pilot the ship as it's all automated and has little knowledge about space travel. He is left trying to hold a panicked mass of passengers together with Billie's help while continuing to hide his true occupation from Herman Judd.

As things continue to worsen he is introduced to the Real Crew below and they formulate a plan to provide the actors pretending to be the Bridge Crew - which includes Mads, Sarah and Nadia - with headsets while Clark himself attempts to gain some knowledges about space and the ship from a children's class taught by Spike Martin.

Clark in his space suit.

In Wait a Minute, Then Who Was That on the Ladder? half way through a plan to make a show of being united and strong to those back on Earth the wetsuit ruptures and Clark is pressured into making the repairs from outside the ship without any knowledge as to how to actually fix it. With Billie's help the issue is dealt with and the entire ship praise Clark for saving the Avenue 5. This constant praise eventually wears on Billie causing her and Clark a slight friction during He's Only There To Stop His Skeleton Falling Over. This doesn't last all that long though since the Half Way Home party soon falls into chaos and a fight breaks out.

When the passengers' and crew's blame for the damage to the ship turns to mob mentality and they want to fling Frank Kelly out the airlock, it is left to Clark to act as the voice of reason and calm things back down. He manages to ease the situation and gets Frank released from Security. Despite this, all the lies and comments made throughout the day lead to Frank punching Clark on stage and threatening him to stay away from Karen before Security drags him away.

Clark, Billie and Karen have a meeting during Was It Your Ears? in which they discuss the problems caused by Judd at the Half Way Home party e.g Frank nearly being cast out the airlock by an angry mob which Judd happily encouraged. All three seem exasperated with Judd in general - Karen keeps suggesting they murder him - and there are several Bloody Mary's littering the table which suggests that Clark's alcoholism may have started to spread to the women due to stress and frustration. Karen is in her silk pyjamas for the entire meeting so clearly it's very early in the morning for a drink. Iris Kimura soon interrupt them to announce that one of the passengers is in labor and that Judd is 'executive producing the birth' which takes everyone's piece of good news and puts a damper on it.

Clark and Billie trying to find the beep

Later while Iris is announcing the baby boy's birth - who is later named Kayden - Clark and Billie notice a steady beep which keeps appearing from somewhere and end up going through almost all of the staff corridors looking for the source of the mysterious beep. This doesn't result in any success though. A short time later Spike Martin comes to them and suggests that the beep may be an oxygen leak, this obviously scares all three and they end up covering their mouths with their hands since they're in a public hallway and don't wish to cause a panic. Clark instantly informs Iris about their suspicions when she appears beside them and a discussion starts about how much air they have remaining and if it would be enough to return to Earth. Soon Karen comes along and Iris further informs her of the possible leak.

Clark after he duct tapes a pillow to his head

During the night Clark reads the 'cabin door manual' in an attempt to fix his door on his own but is continually disturbed by the incessant beep until he eventually duct tapes a pillow to his head in a pointless attempt to silence the noise.

Clearly sleep deprived, Clark attends a crew-passenger meeting while chugging down coffee and appearing rather dishevelled. He spills his coffee and yells at his hands in his natural British accent which Mia quickly picks up on leaving it to Billie and Karen to diffuse her suspicious by saying he was 'doing a voice' and that it was Clark's way of joking; Mia remains suspicious. While at the meeting Judd announces his latest plan to turn the faecal matter orbiting them into something a little more positive. They all discuss how to conserve oxygen which varies from not using certain syllables to not allowing fat people near inclines of any kind. Clark is then part of the conversation to sedate Judd before he can cause any more problems but they end up talking with Rav Mulcair before any real details can be plotted. Due to the delay Rav just talks and tells them that they have the funding to help the people stuck on the ship but that the 'other president' suggested they eliminate the five-hundred NEPs - non-essential personnel - before they had managed to ask anything the connection cuts out due to Jupiter leaving Ryan and the others wondering what exactly is going on.

Clark asking Matt Spencer for drugs

Seriously sleep deprived, Clark goes to Matt to ask for any and all drugs he can get but primarily 'lots and lots and lots of sedatives'; he actually nods off a moment until the beep wakes him up again. Matt asks why he needs them to which Clark starts to lie and say he was bullied as a child, Matt instantly asks if it was because of his ears (which is where the episode title comes from) and then starts about how if he doesn't get him the drugs Ryan would probably go below decks and sexually humiliate himself to get them there instead. Just to make the conversation go faster Clark agrees, he tells Matt that he was very close to going below desks showing someone his bottom. Once he has the pills he goes to his cabin but is stopped by Billie and Karen who want to take the pills from Ryan. Clark doesn't let Karen have them because she'll end up killing Judd, and Billie can hardly even remember who the drugs are for since she's so tired. He manages to spike Judd's drink later when they all gather in Karen's new office so Judd can show off his plan to blast glitter into the excrement orbiting them and light it up; a plan which actually turns out rather well. Billie releases everyone worries and concerns when she reveals that the beep is actually the ship trying to get them to recalibrate for the new life aboard the Avenue 5. Judd never drinks the spiked beverage but instead it appears Karen does as she passes out rather suddenly once everyone has left the room and actually slams her head on her desk. Though this could have been due to exhaustion like Clark who goes to sleep the second the panic is over.

Clark's avatar in Are You a Spider, Matt?

Throughout Are You a Spider, Matt? Clark puts on the charm to flatter Harrison Aimes, a very wealthy passenger, in order to keep the heat off of Judd. Fortunately, Harrison takes an instant liking to Ryan and he's even invited to virtual golf which Iris and Judd also attend.

Below in engineering Ryan learns why Billie had been so distracted all day. She reveals to him that Clark would have to be the one to dock the ship to the rescue pods. Billie further explains that it usually takes people five years to learn such a procedure but gifted people could do it in four; Clark has three and a half. Billie tries to reassure him but it doesn't go very well.

At the Captain's Table Clark does his best to keep in control and charm Harrison Aimes while suffering through awkward conversation and a few no-shows. Eventually he blows up and yells at everyone at the table then storms off after announcing to everyone there that his marriage is over. This impromptu breakdown actually gives Billie and idea to jettison items with the equivalent weight of five-hundred people which would push them forwards enough to dock with the rescue ships in six months. After she's told him her plan Ryan announces it much to the happiness of the passengers while Billie watches on with a pleasant smile. They soon realize though that six months isn't nearly enough time to teach Clark to dock the ship.

Billie teaching Ryan to pilot the ship

In This Is Physically Hurting Me the Real Crew, spearheaded by Billie, start to teach Clark how to dock the ship when it comes time to board the rescue ships. Unfortunately Clark has made very little progress and blows up the ship in the simulation.

Thanks to Matt Spencer spilling about the drugs that Ryan got from him, Herman Judd is left thinking Clark is a junkie and stages an intervention claiming that Clark shouldn't ruin his 'perfect skin'. Ryan blows up at Judd and screams - in a public place - that the sedatives were for Judd and that Iris Kimura was in on it. Of course she denies it and claims that Captain Clark would 'slash his Nana's throat for half an Advil'. Clark storms off only for Judd to attempt to fire him which sends Clark into a rage at being ordered about by an idiot, he rips his hairpiece off much to the horror of everyone present and storms off. This leaves him to be replaced by Spike Martin; he also loses his cabin to Spike. Since he is then deemed a passenger Clark cannot pay for anything because he doesn't have any 'Judd bucks' in his account resulting in him being unable to eat. He goes to confront Judd where Billie and Karen find him and learn that Clark had quit - though Judd insists Clark was fired - and soon finds that the passengers have started to believe they're on a reality tv show. The idea is so bad that a lot of the passengers think they can just walk out the airlock. Sarah basically makes the situation ten times worse by telling everyone that the Bridge Crew are all actors while she waves Ryan's hairpiece around. Convinced they're are still on Earth people rush to the airlock, this is where Judd realizes that he needs someone to take control and reinstates Clark as Captain of the ship. He and Billie to their very best to convince people jumping out the airlock will kill them but it's Matt who starts to get through to them, even this fails when one of the passengers - Mike - goes out anyway and dies instantly. His death jolts several out of the theory but some are still stuck fast to the idea it's all visual effects. Harrison Aimes only exacerbates the riot by offering money to anyone who'd help him get off the ship, the airlock is once again opened and Aimes goes to his death with yet another passenger. After yet another load of passengers go - including Sarah - everyone comes to realize it's not fake and finally give up on the idea of just leaving the ship.

After the deaths everyone gathers in Karen's new office to talk through their problems and what had just happened, only for Matt Spencer to announce via text he had changed the codes to the airlock and that people wouldn't be seeing him again. Ryan instantly assumes this means Matt intends to commit suicide - which he's had enough of - but everyone else is more concerned with getting the code so they can jettison the donated items and avoid the extra journey time. Later in Eight Arms But No Hands he splits everyone into small groups so they can search the ship for Matt. As he's giving out orders Judd points out that he likes seeing Ryan take charge and playing captain. As the search goes on Ryan starts to second guess himself and decides he has the decision making skills of a 'pigeon trapped in a library'; a comment which greatly confuses Judd. While in Matt's cabin they see that Matt has been struck very horribly by the seven airlock deaths and has set up a shrine to Sarah. After looking at the things Matt had left behind Ryan figures out where Matt is, however when they get to the fusion core's anti chamber Matt isn't anywhere to be seen. While slipping into a self deprecating mood Ryan thinks about shaving off his beard as it was giving him delusions of wisdom, but learns that Judd had made 'beardness' a stipulation in his contract. After a very long, high pitched scream of his name from Judd, Matt just appears in the hallway with them eating a candy bar. He tells them he'd been itemizing his thoughts which Ryan basically ignores when Matt starts to read them. He tries to pat down Matt for the airlock codes which doesn't work and they are soon met by almost all the other searchers. Rav Mulcair demands an apology from Judd which he refuses to give leading to him getting slapped before Judd runs off for the shuttle, Ryan realizes this and accidentally reveals to everyone there is a shuttle. They all chase after Judd and are relieved when Jordan Hatwal talks Judd out of going, though he only did this for the seat and sparks a fight over the ability to go back to Earth.

When Cyrus appears with a bag of Joe and Ryan tries to get Mia and Doug off the shuttle he finally looses his patience and screams about being the captain and manages to get everyone to do as they're told for once. Putting on a calmer voice he gets the bag of Joe's body parts off of Matt only for Karen and Frank to appear. As a group everyone decides that Ryan should be the one to go back on the shuttle but it isn't until Ryan doesn't see Billie saluting that he realizes he can't go because they need his hands, he quickly disembarks the ship. The ship jettisons all the junk a short time later but they learn that Karen had moved everything to the port side airlocks instead of the rear not realizing that it would move them in the wrong direction. Karen's cock up leads to them being stuck on the Avenue 5 for eight years total.


Stan Clark and Cris Clark[]

Stan and Cris back on Earth.

Ryan Clark had been one third of a married thrupple for many years, though his marriage to Stan and Cris was on the rocks and had been for a while. During a conversation in I'm A Hand Model they are seen bickering about how much Clark drinks and who does the laundry. Stan and Cris also complain that Ryan spends too much time in space, that the eight week trips are too long and that this one has to be the last. Clark a shoots back 'you don't mind the money, let's be honest' in irritation. Stan and Ryan are clearly more hostile with one another than they are with their wife.

Ryan doesn't seem to mention his husband and wife to anyone aboard the Avenue 5 though it is unclear if that was out of professionalism, due to their strained relationship or because Ryan had no real connection to anyone, save for Billie, on board the ship.

In He's Only There To Stop His Skeleton Falling Over when Ryan calls his husband and wife they announce that they didn't 'sign up' for the extra journey time, that they 'can't take the stress' and Stan goes so far as to say 'you lose the plot, you lose your slot'. Cris and Stan inform Ryan that after they saw his space walk they had decided to get tri-viorced with two thirds majority which would out Ryan from the marriage.

Before the comms went down due to Jupiter breaking the connection Ryan sent them a 'can we try again plea' but when communications come back online there isn't a single response, he quickly realizes that the messages he'd sent them hadn't actually sent because of the planet. Hardly two minutes after he notices his error he's served with papers for divorce proceedings.

Billie McEvoy[]

Clark and Billie on the bridge.

Clark formed a quick but necessary friendship with the Second Engineer, Billie McEvoy. In fact, she is the only person aboard the entire ship who he shares any genuine connection to. The two have built up a rapport and work closely with one another and the other Real Crew, including Cyrus, to keep the Avenue 5 running as best they can.

Many times Billie has come first to him to explain or seek aid and she genuinely finds him funny as seen in Wait A Minute, Then Who Was That On The Ladder? In the same episode Clark is pressured to put on a space suit and repair the burst pipe outside the ship, Billie is quick to slip him a communication device so she can talk him through it all while she keeps the illusion going for Judd.

In He's Only There To Stop His Skeleton Falling Over Frank Kelly and his wife are seen discussing the possibility of Ryan and Billie being a couple. Frank only suggests this because he is suspicious his wife is or is thinking about having an affair with their captain, however, Karen makes his suspicions worse by disagreeing that Ryan and Billie are a couple because she thought Clark would prefer a 'more mature woman'.

Ryan trying to fix his cabin door

After Stan and Cris announce they are getting a tri-vorse, Ryan goes straight to Billie at the bar and tells her not to show her emotions to anyone. Later when a fight starts towards the end of the Half Way Home party Ryan and Billie decide that they will stick together both in the chaos and for the rest of their extended time in space.

In Was It Your Ears? Clark is seen attempting to fix the faulty door to his cabin, though he struggles, Clark at first rejects Billie's request for him to let her fix it. However, after a mini tirade about him still being a functioning member of society Clark gives in and just asks Billie to do it; she agrees instantly though never finishes fixing it.

After Billie informs everyone that there isn't an oxygen leak Ryan goes over to a bench in Karen's new office and quickly passes out because of how exhausted he it. Billie covers him over with a blanket and slips a pillow under his head without a single word regarding the subject.

When Spike Martin and Matt Spencer burst into the Real Crew's HQ during This Is Physically Hurting Me, Matt makes a comment right before they leave again suggesting that Billie and Ryan have a 'role play thing' going on. Neither Ryan nor Billie say anything about it and ignore the insinuation. Even when faced with an angry mob of passengers the pair continue to share side comments with one another under their breath. When Billie is almost dragged into the airlock along with Aimes during the insistence it's all a television show, Ryan grabs her around the waist tightly and pulls her to him saving her life.


Sarah was mostly ignored by Clark, they weren't friends and they didn't really associate when not on the bridge. However, Sarah had made several comments to both Clark and others abroad the ship about his sexual prowess and went so far as to tell Billie that Clark had once gotten her pregnant; though no one believed her and she was quite drunk at the time. During This Is Physically Hurting Me she carries around Clark's wig, when it is returned she revealed that she is rather attracted to him though she isn't sure if it comes from the actual her or her character. Clark does his best to ignore the comment and the subject is never explored as Sarah died shortly afterwards by stepping into the airlock.

Karen Kelly[]

The pair share a predominantly working relationship as well as a basic friendship, though a rumor about Clark and Karen Kelly sleeping together has not just worked its way around the ship but reached Earth as well. The rumor originates from Herman Judd noticing the pair can often be seen whispering in corners and Karen going in and out of Clark's cabin, while this was suspicious it was actually their attempt to hide he wasn't really a captain from everyone else. While the rumor is false Karen has made comments suggesting she finds Clark attractive in some ways, however she wouldn't ever cheat on her husband who she is happily married to. Despite their not actually being anything between them the rumor persists and has reached a point where it just irritates Clark and Karen but the pair never make any real attempt to put a stop to it. At its height in He's Only There To Stop His Skeleton Falling Over during the Half Way Home party Frank Kelly actually punches Clark in the face and demands the captain stays away from Karen.


  • "Passengers find American more reassuring. God knows why." (Clark to Judd, Billie and Iris)
  • "Oh, Lord! Am I married to this? Stan, baby, you look amazing. I love those glasses. You look very clever. When I put mine on I just look like a welder." (Clark to Stan)
  • "Madam, if I had an escape pod, I would put you in it. And set the fucking thing on fire." (Clark to Karen)
  • "Maybe he's climbing into a freezer and hoping to wait the whole thing out." (About Judd to Billie and Iris)
  • "I really thought we were going to turn a corner today, but now we got Tutankhamen Joe and three fucking packed lunches circling the ship." (Clark to Billie)
  • "Matt, can I wear you as an insult-proof vest?" (Clark to Matt)
  • "God speed my sweaty little friend." (Clark to Cyrus)
  • "Go and play with Judd, because you've been a wild kind of useless." (Clark to Matt)
  • "Yeah, leave it like that. It suits my rage." (About the bridge lights to Sarah)
  • "A king's ransom for anyone who knows what the fuck they're doing!" (Clark to the Bridge Crew)
  • "Oh Judith of Nowrich."
  • "I want that as a ringtone." (About Billie's over the top laugh)
  • "Seriously though, on a scale of one to 'we're all going to die' how fucked did you think we were when you found out I'm just a beard in a Sergeant Pepper uniform?" (To the Real Crew)
  • "Right. The things that are not good about this, one of them is, I'm still drunk." (Clark to Billie)
  • "Slot? This is a marriage not a fucking squash court." (Clark to Stan and Cris)
  • "Calm - and I cannot stress this enough - the fuck down people!" (Clark to the Half Way Home party attendees)
  • "Billie, don't ever show anyone your feelings. Alright? Just bury them as deep as you can. Scrunch them up into a little ball and then just- Grow a couple of ulcers if you wanna mark the spot but otherwise, just smile and pretend everything is fine." (Clark to Billie)
  • "They tried to space lynch, Frank." (Clark to Billie and Karen)
  • "As long as it keeps people from murdering me in my bed, I'll be happy." (About the supposed face of the Pope)
  • "Feels like I'm trying to urinate in front of a war crimes tribunal." (Clark to the Real Crew)
  • "Let go, alright, I can do this, I'm not in a care home." (Clark to Billie)
  • "We just watched seven people stupid themselves to death." (About people jumping out the airlock)
  • "It's a bag with some of my friend in it." (Clark to Karen about the bag of Joe)


  • Clark is essentially a functioning alcoholic.
  • He struggles to maintain his fake American accent.
  • Judd originally mistook him for an Australian.
  • Throughout the scene where Clark is steadily driven insane by the beep in Was It Your Ears? the photograph of him, Stan and Cris on his nightstand continually changes to a new photo of them all.
  • Clark wears a hairpiece.
  • While searching for Matt with Judd's help, every time Ryan calls out Matt's name it gradually increases in pitch.



  1. 1.0 1.1 Icon HBO.png HBO. Armando Iannucci to Bring Humor to Space with ‘Avenue 5’ hbo.com. Retrieved on November 24, 2019.