Born in 1957 in Staffordshire, England, Howells began his showbiz career as an assistant art director on The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover (1989) and soon became a busy production designer. He served in that capacity on more than two dozen films and TV shows including Princess Caraboo (1994), Emma (1995), FairyTale: A True Story (1997) and Ever After: A Cinderella Story (1997).
During the 2000s, he was production designer on such features as Nanny McPhee (2005) and Death at a Funeral (2007) before segueing to British TV for 2014 miniseries The Game, 2016 telepic Churchill’s Secret and most recently the ITV period drama Victoria, which aired on PBS stateside. Howells won a British Film Designers Award for Victoria in 2016 and was nominated again last year. His work