Meet the cast of BBC divorce drama The Split

Nicola Walker, Stephen Mangan and Anthony Head star in Abi Morgan's emotionally-charged family drama

The Split cast

Screenwriter Abi Morgan’s new drama about a family of high-flying divorce lawyers is packed full of familiar faces.


Six-part drama The Split, which begins on Tuesday 24th April at 9pm on BBC1, tells the story of the Defoe family – and what happens after leading divorce lawyer Hannah leaves the family firm. She now faces her sister Nina and mother Ruth on the opposing side of high-profile divorce cases. On top of that, her father has returned after 30 years without a word of explanation.

Here are all the characters you need to meet – and where you’ve seen the actors before:

Nicola Walker plays Hannah Sterne

The Split - Nicola Walker plays Hannah

Who is Hannah? Talented divorce lawyer Hannah Sterne recently left the Defoe family law firm to join their rivals at Noble & Hale. To say the least, this has strained her relationship with her single mother Ruth and her sisters Nina and Rose. Hannah has three kids with her husband, Nathan – who is also a lawyer.

What else has Nicola Walker been in? We recently saw Nicola as gay vicar Jane Oliver in Collateral. She also stars as DCI Cassie Stuart in Unforgotten, and plays Gillian in Last Tango in Halifax – a role which earned her a Bafta nomination. You may also remember Nicola from spy drama Spooks, where she played Ruth Evershed.

Annabel Scholey plays Nina Defoe

The Split - Annabel Scholey as little sister Nina

Who is Nina? Hannah’s younger sister Nina works at the Defoe family law firm. She’s talented, tough, and flirtatious.

What else has Annabel Scholey been in? Recent roles have included Amena in Britannia, Contessina in Medici: Masters of Florence, and Gemma Nunn in Inspector George Gently.

Stephen Mangan plays Nathan Sterne

The Split - Stephen Mangan as Hannah's husband Nathan

Who is Nathan? Hannah’s husband Nathan is also a lawyer. He is friendly and charming and gets on well with her family.

What else has Stephen Mangan been in? Stephen starred as Guy Secretan in hospital comedy Green Wing, as Dan Moody in I’m Alan Partridge, and as Dirk Gently in Dirk Gently. He later teamed up with his Green Wing co-star Tamsin Greig for the TV series Episodes.

Deborah Findlay plays Ruth Defoe

The Split - Deborah Findlay as mum Ruth

Who is Ruth? The first time we meet her, it’s Ruth’s 70th birthday. As the head of a family of female divorce lawyers, Ruth has her own firm and raised her three daughters all by herself after her husband walked out when they were children, never to be seen again. Until now.

What else has Deborah Findlay been in? Recently we saw Deborah as Sandrine’s cold, distant, grief-stricken mother Eleanor Shaw in the TV series Collateral. Over the last few years she’s appeared in Jackie, The Lady in the Van, and Hampstead.

Fiona Button plays Rose Defoe

The Split - Fiona Button as Rose

Who is Rose? The youngest of Ruth’s three daughters and the only one who’s not a divorce lawyer – instead she’s currently working as a nanny and figuring out what she wants from life. Rose is engaged to be married to James (Rudi Dharmalingam).

What else has Fiona Button been in? Fiona’s CV includes roles in Grantchester, My Mother and Other Strangers, You Me and the Apocalypse, and Lip Service.

Anthony Head plays Oscar

The Split - Anthony Head as absentee dad Oscar

Who is Oscar? Hannah, Nina and Rose’s long-lost dad. He walked out of the family home 30 years ago and never returned, but now he’s back on the scene – tracking eldest daughter Hannah down in the park to hand over a 70th birthday card for Ruth. But why has he returned after so long and what does he want?

What else has Anthony Head been in? Remember Rupert Giles in Buffy the Vampire Slayer? That was Anthony. He’s also known for his roles as Uther Pendragon in Merlin, the Prime Minister in Little Britain, and John in Girlfriends. He’ll next be seen on screen in the TV mini-series Vanity Fair, as Lord Steyne.

Stephen Tompkinson plays Davey McKenzie

The Split - Stephen Tompkinson as Davey

Who is Davey? A sportswear mogul who approaches Hannah’s law firm Noble & Hale to handle his divorce from childhood sweetheart, Goldie.

What else has Stephen Tompkinson been in? You may recognise Stephen Tompkinson as DCI Alan Banks, star of TV series DCI Banks, or as Damien Day from Drop the Dead Donkey. He has also appeared in Truckers, Trollied, and the TV movie Eric, Ernie and Me.

Meera Syal plays Goldie McKenzie

The Split - Meera Syal as Goldie

Who is Goldie? Poor Goldie is blindsided when husband Davey McKenzie suddenly announces he wants a divorce. It soon becomes a painful battle for control over the family business.

What else has Meera Syal been in? Since rising to fame as one of the Goodness Gracious Me creators, Meera has played grandmother Sushil ‘Ummi’ Kumar in The Kumars at No. 42 and Judge Sonia Sharma in the TV series Broadchurch. More recently she has appeared in Paddington 2 (as the Prosecutor) and Doctor Strange (as Dr Patel).

Barry Atsma plays Christie

The Split - Barry Atsma as Christie

Who is Christie? Hannah’s colleague at Noble & Hale. The two share some kind of history from their youth.

What else has Barry Atsma been in? Dutch actor Barry Atsma rose to fame in Holland in the TV series Rozengeur & Wodka Lime. Since then he has appeared in Bad Banks, Klem, The Hitman’s Bodyguard, Black Widow, and Stephen Mangan comedy drama Episodes – as Arjen Van Der Linden.

Chukwudi Iwuji plays Alex ‘Zander’ Hale

The Split - Chukwudi Iwuji as Zander

Who is Zander? Hannah’s boss at her new law film, Noble & Hale.

What else has Chukwudi Iwuji been in? Chukwudi’s screen credits have included John Wick, Murder in Manhattan, and Doctor Who (as Carl). He is better known for his theatre work, including the title role in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Henry VI trilogy.

Mathew Baynton plays Rex Pope

The Split - Mathew Baynton plays Rex Pope

Who is Rex Pope? A well-known stand-up comedian who is going through a nasty divorce – all fodder for his act. His new show, My Ex-Wife’s A Bitch, has not gone down too well with said ex-wife Sarah who is now denying him access to their son. Rex is represented by Nina and Sarah is represented by Hannah, pitting the two sisters against each other.

What else has Mathew Baynton been in? Younger viewers will know Mathew Baynton for his hilarious appearances in Horrible Histories. His other projects have included Yonderland, Quacks, You Me and the Apocalypse, The Wrong Mans, Will, Spy, and Peep Show.

Tanya Franks plays Sarah Pope

The Split - Tanya Franks as Sarah Pope

Who is Sarah Pope? Sarah is the estranged wife of Rex Pope and is also his former comedy agent. Together they have a young son.

What else has Tanya Franks been in? You may remember Tanya Franks as Broadchurch’s Lucy Stevens. She has also starred as Rainie in EastEnders, Mandy in Chewing Gum, and Carol in Mum.

Rudi Dharmalingam plays James 

The Split - Rudi Dharmalingam plays James

Who is James? The fiancé of the youngest Defoe sister, Rose. He’s kind-hearted, good with kids, and grounded. He dose suffer from an unfortunate nasal condition.

What else has Rudi Dharmalingam been in? You may remember Rudi from Our Girl, where he played the character Milan. His other credits include Alex in the BBC drama Rellik and Bob Paine in Electric Dreams episode The Commuter.


Six-part drama The Split will begin on Tuesday 24th April at 9pm on BBC1