Kay Mellor – the creator of Fat Friends, In the Club and Love, Lies & Records – is back with yet another new series: Girlfriends.
The ITV drama follows Linda, Sue and Gail as they struggle with the changes and responsibilities that come with being a modern woman in the "sandwich generation" – in other words, they’re caring for both their grandchildren and their own ageing parents.
After the dramatic and sudden death of her husband Micky, Linda rekindles her friendship with childhood pals Sue and Gail.
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Each woman has their own obstacles, which range from divorce to age discrimination at work.
But the biggest problem of all comes when questions over the circumstances of Micky’s death start to be asked, and the Girlfriends’ friendship is tested.
The cast is led by a trio of veteran British actresses – meet the Girlfriends below before the new series begins on Wednesday 3rd January 2018 on ITV.
Phyllis Logan as Linda Hutchinson
Linda’s been a stay-at-home mum most of her life and is a bit of a technophobe. She’s very reliant on her husband Micky who’s the breadwinner and does all the paperwork. She’s also a bit of a hippy and, as a kid, formed a band with Gail and Sue after they met a youth centre.
Where do I recognise Phyllis Logan from?
Logan is best known for her roles as Maggie Smart in The Good Karma Hopsital and as Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey. She made numerous appearances in Silent Witness and had a stint on Holby City in 1999. Before that she played Lady Jane Felsham in the 80s series Lovejoy.
Miranda Richardson as Sue Thackery
The editor of a bridal magazine, Sue is glamorous and successful. Her married business partner John, whom she launched the magazine with, is also her lover. Over the years, Sue has slightly neglected her friendship with Linda and Gail to focus on her job.
Where do I recognise Miranda Richardson from?
You might have seen Richardson in the 2004 mini-series Mapp & Lucia and in this year's movies Churchill and iBoy. She also earned Oscra nominations for her roles in 90s movies Damage and Tom & Viv.
Zoë Wanamaker as Gail Stanley
Gail has worked hard all her life and is trying to enjoy retirement – but finds herself spread thin what with caring for her elderly mother Edna and her grandson. She also works shifts as a lollipop lady to pay the bills. To top it all off, Gail is finalising her divorce with her second husband, Dave.
Where do I recognise Zoë Wanamaker from?
My Family has to be Wanamaker’s most famous show, in which she played the legendary, scatty Susan Harper. Wanamaker also appeared as flying instructor Madame Hooch in the Harry Potter films. A prolific actress, you might have also seen her in the 90s series Love Hurts or more recently Agatha Christie’s Poirot and Mr Selfridge. She’s also starring in new Sky series Britannia, set for release in 2018.
Daisy Head as Ruby Hutchinson
Ruby is Linda’s daughter, and works as a dancer on a cruise ship.
Where do I recognise Daisy Head from?
She is best known for her appearances as Grace Atwood in Guilt and Amy Stevenson in The Syndicate. As a child, Head also starred in the CBBC series Feather Boy.
Chris Fountain as Ryan Hutchinson
Ryan is Linda’s son; he works on the same cruise ship as Ruby as head of entertainment.
Where do I recognise Chris Fountain from?
Fountain is best known for playing bad boy Justin Burton on Hollyoaks from 2006-2009. You might also recognise him for appearing as Tommy Duckworth in Coronation Street.
Matthew Lewis as Tom
Tom is a bit of a wide boy, and his involvement in petty crime led to him serving time in prison, meaning Gail was left to look after his young son Ben.
Where do I recognise him from?
Lewis graced the corridors of Hogwarts for many years as Neville Longbottom in the Harry Potter movies. Notable roles since then include The Syndicate, Happy Valley and Ripper Street.
Valerie Lilley as Edna
84-year-old Edna is Gail’s mother. She always had a soft spot for Dave and is disappointed that he and Gail are splitting up. Edna is also beginning to suffer from dementia.
Where do I recognise Valerie Lilley from?
You might have seen Lilley in the series Mr Sloane and Shameless. In 2009 she played Mrs Bates in the miniseries Emma and she was also a teacher in Grange Hill called Mrs Knuckle.
Anthony Head as John
Bridal magazine owner John is cheating on his wife with his business partner Sue.
Where do I recognise Anthony Head from?
Head played Rupert Giles, the mentor and father figure to Buffy, in cult series Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1996 to 2003. You might have also seen him in Manchild, Little Britain (as the Prime Minister), Merlin and Guilt.
Adrian Rawlins as Dave
Dave is currently going through his divorce with Gail – he has a good bond with her mother Edna but there’s a lot of tension between him and son Tom.
Where do I recognise Adrian Rawlins from?
Another Harry Potter alumnus, Rawlins played Harry's father in the film series. He’s also known for his roles in Dickensian, The White Princess and he will appear in next year’s pre-apocalyptic drama Hard Sun.
Paula Wilcox as Carole
Carole owns a vintage boutique and is a fiery character – but she is struggling to cope under the pressures of recent events…
Where do I recognise Paula Wilcox from?
You might have seen Wilcox in the series Boomers, Mount Pleasant, Living the Dream or Upstart Crow in which she plays Mary Shakespeare. She also used to star in Emmerdale as Hilary Potts and played Mrs Parker in the children’s series The Queen’s Nose.