The ensemble cast also includes Nafessa Williams, Bella Maclean, Katherine Parkinson, Victoria Smurfit, Claire Rushbrook, Oliver Chris, Lisa McGrillis, Emily Atack, Rufus Jones, Luke Pasqualino and Catriona Chandler.
The eight-part blockbuster saga is based on Jilly Cooper's iconic novel Rivals and is set against the backdrop of the drama, excess, and shocking antics of the power-grabbing social elite of 1980s England. It promises to be packed full of wit, romantic entanglements, sex and unforgettable characters.
Rivals dives headfirst into the ruthless world of independent television in 1986. In the fictional county of Rutshire, a long-standing rivalry between two powerful men is about to boil over.
Alex Hassell plays dashing ex-Olympian, Tory Member of Parliament and incorrigible rake, the dangerously charismatic Rupert Campbell-Black, starring alongside David Tennant as Rupert’s single-mindedly ambitious and egotistical Rutshire neighbour Lord Tony Baddingham, controller of Corinium Television.
A long-simmering power struggle between them threatens to boil over when the two men lock horns over the future of Corinium.
Caught in the crossfire is TV presenter Declan O’Hara, played by Aidan Turner. Fiercely intellectual, with an even fiercer temper, he is wooed to Corinium TV from the BBC by Baddingham himself but feels he’s been swindled when Tony refuses to deliver on his promises. Furious with Tony, Declan vows to get his revenge.
Victoria Smurfit plays Maud O’Hara, a former actress and Declan’s bohemian, fickle wife alongside Bella Maclean as Declan and Maud’s tender-hearted yet strong-willed elder daughter, Taggie. She holds the O’Hara family together and keeps an eye on her younger and wilder sister Caitlin, played by Catriona Chandler.
Nafessa Williams plays Cameron Cook, a ferociously talented American TV executive who is brought to Corinium by Tony to produce Declan’s new prime-time talk show. She soon finds herself caught between the two powerful men who deeply underestimate her, at their peril.
Katherine Parkinson stars as Lizzie Vereker, a romantic novelist consistently overlooked by her preening and self-centred TV presenter husband, James Vereker, played by Oliver Chris.
Danny Dyer stars as Freddie Jones: honourable, loyal and lovable, he’s a self-made electronics millionaire. Freddie’s got the money, but finds himself, along with his social-climbing wife Valerie, played by Lisa McGrillis, an outsider to Rutshire’s cliques. But when Rupert and Tony come to him with a business proposition, all that could change.
Claire Rushbrook plays Lady Monica Baddingham, Tony’s dependable, upper-crust wife who has absolutely no interest in the dramatic goings-on within her husband’s empire. Luke Pasqualino plays the charming Basil ‘Bas’ Baddingham, Tony’s younger brother and the proprietor of Cotchester’s hot spot, ‘Bar Sinister’.
Emily Atack plays Sarah Stratton, the new wife to Deputy Prime Minister, Paul Stratton, played by Rufus Jones. Sarah is ambitious and not afraid to use her looks to get to the top. Paul, on the other hand, is in the throes of a midlife crisis - everyone knows it.
Speaking about Rivals, Executive Producer and author, Jilly Cooper said "I’m utterly enchanted to be able to announce our all-star line-up for Rivals. Featuring some of the best acting talent that the British Isles has to offer, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better ensemble cast. I cannot wait to be on set and see them bring the characters I love so much to life. "
"The minute we met with Alex we knew he’d perfectly embody my all-time hero, the iconic, racy, ruthless, and devastatingly handsome, Rupert Campbell-Black. Viewers are in for a treat!"
Written by Dominic Treadwell-Collins with Laura Wade, the series is being produced by Happy Prince and will be executive produced by Dominic Treadwell-Collins, Alexander Lamb, Felicity Blunt, Laura Wade, Jilly Cooper and Director of Scripted Content for Disney+ EMEA Lee Mason.
Elliot Hegarty will serve as lead director as well as executive producer on episodes 1-3, with Eliza Mellor as Series Producer and Kelly Valentine Hendry as Casting Director.
In addition to Treadwell-Collins and Wade, the writer's room also includes: Sophie Goodhart, Marek Horn, Mimi Hare & Clare Naylor, Dare Aiyegbayo, Kefi Chadwick, Tray Agyeman and Sorcha Kurien Walsh.
Rivals will air on Disney+