Buchanan was born in 1967 and took up acting at the suggestion of his father, who was a major in the Royal Marines. He got his break in 1994 with the role of Hodge in the comedy drama series Preston Front. When that show ended in 1997, he starred opposite Warren Clarke as Peter Pascoe in the long running series Dalziel and Pascoe, based on the crime novels of Reginald Hill. Prior to acting he had tried his hand at a number of jobs including singing in a rock band, working on a building site and delivering leaflets. He lives in Birmingham and has two daughters Kira and Maya.