FIRST LOOK Sherwood

David Morrissey leads James Graham's new contemporary drama for BBC One, Sherwood starring alongside Lesley Manville and Robert Glenister.


Announced back in February, Sherwood sees award-winning playwright and dramatist, James Graham, draw on his experiences of growing up in post-industrial Nottinghamshire. Today, BBC One have revealed casting for the series and released a first look photo and detailed plot information.


Inspired in part by real events and set in the Nottinghamshire mining village where Graham grew up, at the heart of Sherwood lie two shocking and unexpected killings that shatter an already fractured community and spark a massive manhunt.


As suspicion and antipathy build, both between lifelong neighbours and towards the police forces who descend on the town, the tragic killings threaten to inflame historic divisions sparked during the miners' strike three decades before.


Sherwood is at once a compelling, contemporary crime drama that explores for the first time the controversial deployment of so-called ‘spycops’ around Britain, and a distinctly human story of a community forced to re-examine the terrible events of decades ago, for which it still bears the scars.


It is also a powerfully resonant and timely examination of the frayed social and political fabric of modern-day, post-Brexit Britain. From the often ignored former 'red wall' towns and communities, whose lives and futures can be reduced to political footballs and endless discourse from the commentariat, to entrenched anxiety that can define the relationship between marginalised communities and the police force, to the evolving role and uncertain future of protest itself, Sherwood explores and exposes some of the most urgent fractures and discords threaded through modern British society.


David Morrissey stars as Detective Chief Superintendent Ian St Clair, a lifer in the Nottinghamshire constabulary who has risen through the ranks. Canny and a good judge of character, he is a formidable and empathetic detective with an impressive track record to prove it.


When he is tasked with finding the link between these two killings, he is forced to reunite with DI Kevin Salisbury, played by Robert Glenister, an old rival from the Metropolitan Police, whose return to the town threatens to heighten the already febrile tensions running through the community.


Detective Inspector Kevin Salisbury has little desire to return to Ashfield. There are too many reminders of what happened in 1984, and he’s unlikely to get the warmest of welcomes from the local police force nor the local community. But he has orders to follow, and he’s determined to prove that he stands for honour and integrity.


Alun Armstrong stars as Gary Jackson, a committed NUM member and one of the few miners from Ashfield on the picket line in the 80s. He won’t let anyone forget it, even decades later, which sets him at odds with his neighbours. His wife, Julie Jackson, played by Lesley Manville, estranged from her sister Cathy over their divided loyalties during the miners’ strike, is as stubborn as her husband, but fiercely proud of the warm household she has created for her family.


Philip Jackson stars as Mickey Sparrow, an entrepreneur, proud of his portfolio which includes an axe-throwing range and taxi firm. However, as much of the town suspects, most of his income comes from other, less-legal means. So, when suspicion points to the Sparrow family, Mickey’s empire comes under threat.


Daphne Sparrow, played by Lorraine Ashbourne, is the matriarch. Forthright and fearless she will do whatever it takes to protect her family. When everything and everyone she holds dear comes under threat, it becomes apparent just how far Daphne will go for them, including her son Rory, played by Perry Fitzpatrick.


Claire Rushbrook stars as Cathy Rowley who has always lived slightly in her sister’s shadow. The miners’ strike tore the pair apart when Cathy fell in love with UDM working miner Fred Rowley, played by Kevin Doyle, a quiet and reserved man.


Her relationship with her introverted and deeply private stepson Scott, played by Adam Hugill, is also strained. But when tragedy strikes close to home, Cathy is forced to reckon with the woman she has become, and the dark secrets that have been hidden behind closed doors.


Adeel Akhtar plays Andy Fisher, a delicate and shy man who lost his wife years ago and has struggled to cope with that loss, ever since. He leans on his son Neel, played by Bally Gill, for emotional support, and though Neel is much obliging, Andy feels like he’s losing his son to his son’s fiancée Sarah, played by Joanne Froggatt, who struggles to hide how uncomfortable she is in her soon-to-be father-in-law’s company.


And it’s not just the arrival of the Met police which stirs up old memories. With the reappearance in the town of Yorkshireman and staunch NUM member Warnock, played by Stephen Tompkinson, new seeds of suspicion surrounding the events from 1984 are sown when he alludes to activity of the Met Police’s undercover police unit during the strikes.


All six episodes have been written by James Graham, who also serves as an executive producer alongside Lewis Arnold who also serves as lead director. Produced by Rebecca Hodgson, Juliette Howell, Tessa Ross and Harriet Spencer are executive producers for House Productions and Ben Irving will executive produce for BBC.


Sherwood will air on BBC One