Ben Hardy and Jessie Buckley to lead BBC1 adaptation of The Woman in White

Charles Dance, Dougray Scott, Joanna Scanlon, Olivia Vinall and Art Malik are also signed up

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Ben Hardy is returning to BBC1 – but he isn’t making a return to Albert Square.

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Instead, the former EastEnders star and X-Men Apocalypse actor is leading the cast of a brand new period drama, The Woman in White.

Hardy will play Walter Hartright in the series, which was previously announced in December 2015, while War and Peace and Taboo actress Jessie Buckley will co-star alongside him as Marian Halcombe.

The five hour-long episodes are an adaptation of Wilkie Collins’ psychological thriller – regarded by many as the first novel of its kind, written in 1859. After Hartwright encounters a woman dressed in white on a dark road, he finds himself drawn into a mysterious and disturbing world.

Also signed up to the cast are Apple Tree Yard’s Olivia Vinall, Game of Thrones actor Charles Dance and The Replacement’s Dougray Scott. Art Malik, Joanna Scanlon, Vicki Pepperdine and Riccardo Scamarcio also complete the cast.

Hardy says: “I have always admired and been a fan of the BBC’s period dramas and I’m so thrilled to be playing the leading role of Walter in this classic story”.

Buckley added: “It’s really exciting to be playing a woman like Marion who has such a strength and rooted integrity. In the midst of this Victorian male puppeteered world where suspense, interrogation and speculative intoxication is what drives this story forward you find Marion, who is undefined by her sex and undefined by her society. She is the Janis Joplin of her time and I can’t wait to learn from this wonderful woman”.

The Woman in White is produced by Origin Pictures, who also did The Crimson Petal and the White, Death Comes to Pemberley and Jamaica Inn.

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The drama is penned by The Lady Vanishes scriptwriter Fiona Seres and is currently filming in Belfast, Northern Ireland.