Green was born on 18 December 1964 in Dilston Hospital, Hexham and grew up in Blythe Close, Dudley, a small mining village near Cramlington, in the ancient county of Northumberland. His father, also named Robson Green, was a miner, and his mother Anne a cleaner and a shopkeeper. He was named in the Northeast tradition of naming the first son after family surnames: Robson was his paternal grandmother's maiden name, while his middle name Golightly; is the surname of his maternal grandmother, Cissie Golightly, daughter of William Golightly, a miner and famous trade union leader in the 1920s.
Green grew up in Dudley, a small mining village a few miles north of Newcastle upon Tyne. His father worked down the coal mining pits. He attended Dudley Middle Comprehensive School. After being inspired by jets flying overhead, he decided he wanted to join the Royal Air Force. and at the age of sixteen, he joined the Air Training Corps, Green however decided against a career in the RAF, after two weeks at an officer training camp. He also learned to play a guitar, later forming his first band, Solid State, in 1982. He also spent one night a week at the Backworth Drama Centre, and then appeared in a series of productions at both school and Backworth.
Green left school aged sixteen with five O-levels, and joined Swan Hunter's shipyard as a draughtsman. On one occasion, he also tried his hand at professional boxing. He attended three boxing training sessions for the play Francie Nichol, in which he played a boxer.
After two years at Swan's, Green decided on a career in acting. After auditioning, he began training under the tutelage of artistic director Max Roberts, his previous director at Backworth. During his training, he continued his musical career, as a member of a successful local band, the Workie Tickets. By 1988, he began his screen career, featured in the award-winning series Shields Stories, a series of short stories about social issues made by Amber Films.
Growing up in Tyneside, Robson Green was chosen to be the lead in a film made by Amber films that narrated the contemporaneous social problems faced by working-class people in Thatcher's Britain. Each episode examined one aspect of living in a harsh and embittered environment. The soap opera gave Green his big break in film. It was quickly followed by offers of work. Green first made his name as an actor in the BBC series Casualty, but after three series, moved to national prominence as fusilier Dave Tucker in the drama series Soldier Soldier.
In 1995, one episode called for Green and co-star Jerome Flynn to sing Unchained Melody. Subsequently, ITV was inundated by people wanting to buy the song and the pair were persuaded by Simon Cowell to release it as a single – a double A-side with White Cliffs of Dover. It stayed at No. 1 for seven weeks in the UK Singles Chart, selling more than 1.8 million copies and making it the best-selling single of the year and winning the duo the Music Week Awards in 1996 for best single and best album. Subsequently, they had two further No. 1 singles and two No. 1 albums, all remakes of standards.
The song gave Green the opportunity to sign a long-term deal with ITV to star in several of the network's dramas, including Touching Evil, Grafters and Reckless. In 1996, he set up an independent production company, Coastal Productions, with business partner Sandra Jobling to give youngsters from the North East the opportunities he struggled for. The company has since produced or co-produced most of Green's television work, as well as local productions at the Theatre Royal in Newcastle upon Tyne. In 2002, Green starred as clinical psychologist Dr. Tony Hill in the crime drama Wire in the Blood.
Green's production company has brought at least four new dramas to the small screen in recent years, including the massive ratings hit Christmas Lights. The success of this one-off drama led to a series being commissioned under the name Northern Lights, which was followed by a sequel called City Lights. Coastal also produces drama series, including Hereafter starring showbiz couple Stephen Tompkinson and Dervla Kirwan.
In 1995, Green won the Smash Hits Poll Winner's Party award for Favourite TV Actor. In 1997, Green starred in the TV film, The Student Prince which is no relation to either the Romberg operetta or the 1954 MGM film.
In July 1998, Green received an honorary degree from the University of Northumbria and, in September 2006, he was voted by the UK general public at No. 35 in a poll of TV's greatest stars.
In 2000, Green starred with James Bolam, Susan Jameson and Jamie Bell in the ITV drama Close and True. In 2001, he starred in the six-part ITV drama Take Me.
In 2002, Green starred with Caroline Goodall in the TV movie Me and Mrs. Jones. In December 2002, he released his first solo album, Moment In Time, which was composed of cover versions (including the song "Me and Mrs. Jones"). However, unlike his releases with Jerome Flynn, the album was a commercial failure, peaking at No. 49 in the UK.
In 2003, Green starred in the ITV mini-series Unconditional Love and in the BBC television series Trust. In 2005, he starred in two series, Like Father Like Son, and Rocket Man in which he played a widower trying to build a rocket to send his dead wife's ashes into space.
Green presents his own series Extreme Fishing with Robson Green and the spin-off Robson's Extreme Fishing Challenge, where he travels over the world investigating and participating in the sport, coining fishing catchphrases such as "get in" and "we're in". During 2009, while promoting the second series on BBC Breakfast, Green claimed that 90% of all coarse fish caught by anglers die. This rapidly caused an angry response from coarse fishing anglers in the UK who believed this comment to be unsubstantiated and potentially damaging to the sport.
In December 2009, ITV presented the documentary Robson Green's Wild Swimming Adventure, a tour of swimming locales around the UK. In July 2010, Green began filming the seventh series of BBC drama Waterloo Road appearing from May 2011 to July 2011.
In 2011, Green starred in the third series of the BBC Three show Being Human in which he played a werewolf named McNair.
In 2013 and 2015, Green starred in the fourth and fifth series of the war-drama series Strike Back, as Lt Colonel Philippe Locke, a former SAS operative.
In October 2013, Green began presenting Tales from Northumberland with Robson Green on ITV, a factual series about his home county of Northumberland. A second series began airing in February 2015 and a third in February 2016.
Since 2014, he has portrayed Geordie Keating in the ITV drama series Grantchester, starring alongside James Norton. A second series began in March 2016 and a third in April 2017.
In March 2016, during an appearance on The One Show, Green confirmed he would present a new series for ITV called Tales from the Coast with Robson Green, which began airing in January 2017. In April 2016, he presented one-off documentary The Flying Scotsman with Robson Green. He presented one-off documentary Robson Crusoe: A Surprising Adventure and a six-part series called Robson Green's Coastal Lives, both for ITV.
Green will appear in the BBC's Age Before Beauty.
Green was introduced to occupational therapist Alison Ogilvie by his then-close friend, television director Andrew Gunn. They married on 22 June 1991, but separated eight years later. Green met his second wife, former Page 3 model Vanya Seager, while recording Unchained Melody at BMG Records in 1995. They later had a son, Taylor Seager-Green (born 2000). In 2001, the couple married at Cliveden House in Buckinghamshire after a family celebration in Mauritius. On 30 October 2011, the couple issued a statement saying that their marriage had "irretrievably broken down" and that they were separating.
Stephanie Jones, a flight attendant, started a relationship with Green in 2013, but it did not last. In 2016, he hit the tabloids again after it was announced by an OBE-awarded Church of England vicar that Green was having an affair with the vicar's Filipina wife, and that she is living in Green's country flat. The woman in question left behind her two children aged 16 and 20 and husband. It was stated that Green and the vicar's wife met in the gym.
Green is the uncle of actor Daymon Britton, who appeared as youth club worker Dom in the long-running BBC children's drama Byker Grove. Green is a long-time Newcastle United supporter.