Paul was an actor in adolescence and grew up in Manor house, London. After turning professional at the age of 14 when he enrolled at a stage school. He appeared in the film Bugsy Malone at 14, and in an episode of police drama The Sweeney at the age of 16. Two years later, he took the role of convict Betts in the cinematic re-make of controversial borstal movie Scum. Betts' character was notable in the film, as he was the only one seen to be released - albeit temporarily, for his wedding.
He spent much of the 1980s on stage, working with the Royal Shakespeare Company,and played major role in Going Out, about a group of teenagers in the Portsmouth area, although he took a part in the lukewarmly-received ITV sitcom Tripper's Day in 1984. Set in a supermarket, this was a notable programme only because it was the final television work undertaken by the distinguished British actor Leonard Rossiter prior to his sudden death. Paul stayed in the series when it was re-cast with Bruce Forsyth two years later and re-named Slinger's Day. Neither were deemed a success.
In 1989, he joined The Bill, the long-running police serial, as 'PC Dave Quinnan', and became a very popular character and a household name. When the series decided to focus more on the officers themselves and less on crime, Quinnan was given a number of serious storylines which Paul performed with some panache. These included being kicked almost to death by a gang of thugs and having to spend several weeks in hospital on a drip, falling in love with a colleague's girlfriend and having an affair with her (and then marrying her after the affair became public), and then having an extramarital relationship himself with another officer. The character was eventually transferred after successfully undertaking undercover work.
This tied in with Paul's decision to leave The Bill after 13 years. He briefly played 'Maxwell Moon' in the popular BBC soap opera EastEnders and went on to be a regular cast member in Where the Heart Is, playing 'Billy Boothe', until the series was axed in 2006.
In 1980 he appeared in On His Back, a UK government public information film discouraging drink driving. He played the role of a formerly disqualified driver struggling to get insurance.