Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery to star in BBC William Boyd adaptation

The actress will be joined in spy drama Restless by an all-star cast including Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell and Michael Gambon


Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery is to discover that everything she believed about her life has been a lie in BBC1’s upcoming adaptation of William Boyd’s novel Restless.


In the 1976-set drama she’ll play Ruth Gilmartin, a woman whose life seems secure and pedestrian until she discovers that her mother has been living a double life and is really a Russian spy who’s been on the run for 30 years.

After falling in love with a British spook and being schooled by her new beau in the art of espionage, Ruth’s mother found herself being forced into hiding in 1939 after the collapse of a crucial mission in the USA. Three decades on and she’s determined to finally stop looking over her shoulder, but the only two people she can call on for help are her former lover and shell-shocked daughter.

Joining Dockery in the drama are star names Hayley Atwell, Rufus Sewell, Michael Gambon and Charlotte Rampling, all of whom will be flying out to South Africa this summer to begin filming on the project.

Boyd, who has adapted his Costa Prize-winning book for the screen, said: “To have the chance to film a novel like Restless over three hours is the sort of opportunity that only a television adaptation can provide.

“It represents the most enticing and alluring of possibilities – not only to tell an enthralling story of wartime espionage, love and betrayal but also to lift the lid on one of the last secrets of the Second World War.”

Restless is thus far without an airdate but the BBC is most enthusiastic about the new drama, as the Controller of BBC Drama Commissioning Ben Stephenson said in a statement: “It’s a delight to be able to tell William Boyd’s best seller over three hours on BBC One.

“The fine cast assembled are a testament to the epic quality of his wartime spy thriller, set across two time periods with an intoxicating female at the centre.”


Fans clamouring for more Michelle Dockery in the meantime will be pleased to hear that she’ll be back on our screens next month in the Jeremy Irons-led adaptation of Shakespeare’s Henry IV, which begins on Saturday 7 July on BBC2.  She’ll also be reprising her role as Lady Mary Crawley ina  third series of Dpwnton Abbey later this year.