Game of Thrones star Gwendoline Christie joins Elisabeth Moss in Top of the Lake series two

The second series of Jane Campion's BBC2 drama is called China Girl and will be set in Australia, the BBC confirm

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Gwendoline Christie, better known to Game of Thrones fans for playing the fearsome warrior Brienne of Tarth, is joining the second series of BBC2 thriller Top of the Lake.

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Christie, who returns in season six of Game of Thrones this spring, will have a “major role” in the new run of Top of the Lake, which is called “China Girl” and sees Mad Men’s Elisabeth Moss reprise her lead role as investigator Robin Griffin (pictured).

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The first series was set in a New Zealand town in which a pregnant 12-year-old girl had gone missing. It reunited director Jane Campion with Holly Hunter, the star of her career-changing film The Piano, with Hunter playing androgynous spiritual leader GJ.

The new series begins four years on from the explosive ending of series one when the unidentified body of an Asian girl washes up on to Sydney’s Bondi Beach. “The case seems hopeless, until detective Robin Griffin (Moss) discovers that China Girl didn’t die alone,” said the BBC in a statement.

Christie, who also appeared in the latest Star Wars film as the villainous Captain Phasma, said, “I am so delighted to be working on Top of the Lake 2. Jane Campion has been a major creative influence throughout my life and I could not feel more privileged to be working on the next instalment of her unique and enthralling drama, alongside the brilliant Elisabeth Moss.”

Also joining the cast for series two are David Dencik (Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo), Alice Englert (Beautiful Creatures, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell) and Ewen Leslie (The Daughter).

Campion (Bright Star, The Piano) returns to direct along with new co-director Ariel Kleiman (Partisan). Campion and Gerard Lee also return as co-writers of the second series.

“Jane and Gerard are great modern storytelling-adventurers,” said producers Philippa Campbell and Libby Sharpe in a joint statement. “The daring way they crack open vivid layers of humanity to explore the mysteries at the heart of a new wilderness in season two has attracted an extraordinary team on and off screen.  It’s an honour to produce this unique and ground-breaking show.”

Lucy Richer, BBC executive producer said, “Jane Campion is one of the world’s finest directors and we are incredibly proud to bring her unique voice and vision to BBC2 for the stand-alone second series of Top of the Lake. The astounding cast she has brought together will star in a dark and beguiling story that takes Detective Robin Griffin deep into the underworld of Sydney, and to the limits of her own heart.”

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The new series will air on BBC2 in 2017.