Born in Glasgow, Paterson studied Dramatic Art at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama (now the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland), graduating in 1969. In 1967, whilst he was still a student, he made his professional acting debut at Glasgow Citizens Theatre. He went on to be a founding member of John McGrath’s theatre company, 7:84. In 1976 Paterson made his London stage debut but began to work more in television, with his first appearances including the 1978 BAFTA award-winning drama, ‘Licking Hitler’. In 1982 he was nominated for a Laurence Oliver Award for his performance in ‘Schweik in the Second World War’. The 1980s also saw Paterson’s career expand into film and he has since gone on to appear in a range of movies whilst continuing to perform on stage and in television.