Ambitious Sky1 drama Jamestown starts with one of the most nerve-wracking journeys in history. A boatful of woman is making its way from Britain to Virginia in 1619, and surviving the passage is only the start of it: it is only when they set foot on dry land that they will meet for the first time the men they are to marry.
This drama from the makers of Downton Abbey is based on reality: having endured 12 years without female company, the settlers of the New World have sent for “maids to make wives”. Jamestown focuses on the story of three women – Alice, Jocelyn and Verity – who find that their new lives weren’t quite what they were expecting.
With seasoned actors like Jason Flemyng and Max Beesley as well as relative newcomers Niamh Walsh and Luke Roskell in the cast, here are all the characters you need to meet – and where you’ve seen those faces before.
Sophie Rundle – Alice Kett
Who does she play? We first meet farm girl Alice Kett on a ship destined for the New World. Good natured and kind, she hopes the husband she is destined to marry will be a decent man.
Where have I seen her before? Sophie Rundle played Ada Shelby in Peaky Blinders. She also starred as code-breaker Lucy in the ITV drama The Bletchley Circle, and she joined Matt LeBlanc and Tamsin Grieg in the sitcom Episodes.
Max Beesley – Henry Sharrow
Who does he play? The eldest Sharrow brother has worked hard to make a life in Jamestown, and to save up enough money to buy a wife. Unfortunately for Alice, he is a violent and cruel tyrant.
Where have I seen him before? Max Beesley starred as Charlie Edwards in the TV drama Hotel Babylon. He’s also popped up in London Ink, Mad Dogs, Suits, Ordinary Lies, The Last Enemy and Homeland. Beesley is also a skilled pianist and percussionist, and as a musician he’s played with Robbie Williams, Take That, Jamiroquai and James Brown.
Stuart Martin – Silas Sharrow
Who does he play? Alice thinks she’s struck gold when handsome Silas collects her from the ship. Unfortunately for her, she has pinned her hopes on the wrong Sharrow: Silas must take her to his older brother Henry.
Where have I seem him before? Stuart Martin’s breakout role was as Lorenzo de’Medici in Netlix drama Medici: Masters of Florence. He’s also been in Babylon, Crossing Lines and even Game of Thrones – where he played the role of “Lannister soldier”.
Naomi Battrick – Jocelyn Woodbryg
Who does she play? Jocelyn is unusual among the women heading for the New World, because she’s posh and she has actually met her soon-to-be husband before, and is now heading out to Jamestown to join him. But there’s definitely a push factor too, because – as the boat is rocked by a terrible storm – Jocelyn tells Alice she’s being punished for killing a man. One she gets on shore, she reveals a very manipulative streak and an ambitious nature.
Where have I seen her before? As a teenager, Naomi Battrick starred as Toyah in My Almost Famous Family on CBBC. She later played Grace Jacobs in Doctors, Gabriella Wark in Waterloo Road and Ellie Delfont-Bogard in Crossing Lines. Recently she was in Whisky Galore alongside the comedian Eddie Izzard.
Gwilym Lee – Samuel Castell
Who does he play? Samuel Castell seems to have chosen a wildly inappropriate wife, even though he dotes on her. A key figure in Jamestown as company recorder, he has a firm moral compass and is not particularly ambitious – much to Jocelyn’s dismay.
Where have I seen him before? Perhaps in Midsomer Murders, as DS Charlie Nelson. He’s also an experience theatre actor, having worked with the Royal Shakespeare Company from the age of 16 and starred in Hamlet alongside Jude Law.
Niamh Walsh – Verity
Who does she play? Fiery redhead Verity arrives in Jamestown ready to meet her new husband – but to her dismay, he’s the worst of the worst in her eyes: a drunk. But Verity can hold her own: she’s gobby and sarcastic and contrary.
Where have I seen her before? This is a breakout role for Irish actress Niamh Walsh, following a stint as Cara Martinez in Holby City. She does have a long list of stage credits, including a role in Pericles at Shakespeare’s Globe.
Dean Lennox Kelly – Meredith Rutter
Who does he play? Meredith Rutter is Verity’s drunk and disorderly new husband. They get off to a bad start when Meredith fails to collect his wife from the ship, and to make matters worse their first meeting happens when he has his ear nailed to a post by the Jamestown authorities. Despite his love of alcohol and his frequent bad behavior, Meredith is more canny than people give him credit for – and he makes good money running the local pub.
Where have I seen him before? Dean Lennox Kelly is best known for his role as Kev Ball in Channel 4’s Shameless.
Jason Flemyng – Sir George Yeardley
Who does he play? Sir George Yeardley is a newcomer to Jamestown, having been sent by the King as the colony’s new governor. In fact, Sir George did accidentally exist: born in 1587, he became a three-time colonial governor of the British Colony of Virginia. On arrival, the new governor must consolidate his power and keep Jamestown in check.
Where have I seen him before? Jason Flemyng starred in a couple of Guy Ritchie films, Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrells and Snatch. He’s also been in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. On TV he recently played George Mayhew in SS-GB.
Luke Roskell – Pepper Sharrow
Who does he play? Pepper Sharrow is the youngest of the three Sharrow brothers.
Where have I seen him before? You may have seen him looking a little younger, as annoying kid Sean Spicer in Emmerdale from 2011 to 2014.
Patsy Ferran – Mercy
Who does she play? Mercy is a super-earnest, incredibly naive servant girl. She serves Samuel, but he assigns her to look after his new bride Jocelyn when she arrives in Jamestown. Mercy thinks the best of people and is desperate for her new mistress’ approval.
Where have I seen her before? Patsy Ferran is an up and coming actress on the stage. She made her West End debut in Blithe Spirit alongside Angela Lansbury, and led the cast of Treasure Island at the National Theatre.
Matt Stokoe – James Read
Who does he play? A local blacksmith/craftsman type bloke who treats Alice with kindness and notices her bruises.
Where have I seen him before? As Alex in Misfits. You may have also caught him in The Musketeers, The Village, or Black Mirror.
Shaun Dooley – Rev Michaelmas Whitaker
Who does he play? The local reverend.
Where have I seen him before? Shaun Dooley played Ricky Gillespie in Broadchurch, and DC Jim Fenchurch in The Game. This is not the first time he’s starred alongside Matt Stokoe: he was Greg in Misfits.
Steven Waddington – Redwick
Who does he play? A once-powerful town marshall who resents Sir George’s arrival. He hopes to become important again.
Where have I seen him before? Steven Waddington played Aiken in Halo: Nightfall. He was Steve in The Syndicate, and Adam Fleet in Waterloo Road.
Burn Gorman – Farlow
Who does he play? The dandyish company secretary, who has a callous streak and hopes to undermine Sir George.
Where have I seen him before? As Dr Owen Harper in Torchwood, or perhaps as Karl Tanner in Game of Thrones. He’s also had roles in The Dark Knight Rises, Pacific Rim, and The Man in the High Castle.
Ben Starr – Dr Christopher Priestley
Who does he play? The local doctor, and Samuel’s best friend. He sees straight through Jocelyn.
Where have I seen him before? Ben Starr played Captain James Hawdon in Dickensian. He was Donatello in Medici: Masters of Florence, and played the role of “sniper” in Survivor.
Claire Cox – Temperance Yeardley
Who does she play? Temperance is devoted to her husband Sir George Yeardley and has travelled across the seas with him to their new home in Jamestown. A religious, godly woman, she is initially judgemental of others. But once she is forced to cohabit with the other women of this settlement, Temperance sees the reality of her subordination – and realises the potential power at her fingertips.
Where have I seen her before? Claire Cox has played roles in Fresh Meat, Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Doctors, Wallander and MI-5.
Jamestown launches on Sky1 on Friday 5th May at 9pm