Meet the cast of The Syndicate

Alison Steadman, Siobhan Finneran, Jimi Mistry, Natalie Gavin and Mark Addy star in the second series of Kay Mellor's lottery drama



Can you tell us a little bit about your character?

She’s a very hard-working, honest woman. She’s a widow and has five kids to still take care of; none of them have yet fled the nest. There’s a lot lying underneath this brave woman: loneliness and stress, with the children, work and her health. Amongst all that, she’s got a daughter that wants to go to university and no idea how she can afford to send her and a son who is absolutely useless and going nowhere. Rose is constantly trying to lick him in to shape. There’s a lot of love in the family, but like a lot of big families when one person dies and one individual is left to provide, particularly when they’re poor, it’s very, very hard. The actual reality of her life is extremely hard and I’m sure will hit home to a lot of people. 

What attracted you to The Syndicate?

Well I love Kay’s writing. I think she writes very real people and she’s got real heart and I just loved the dilemma of each character. It’s such a great subject to investigate; people who are on the poverty line who are just about keeping their heads above water, winning all this money. It’s fascinating to see how every individual copes with it. We were of course asking each other when we were filming what we would do.  Everyone fantasises about what they would do if they won the lottery don’t they…?!

How does Rose’s win affect her?

She is a sensible woman so handles money well and invests the money in the future for all her children. It’s a wonderful feeling for her, like being able to fly – suddenly to be able to sort her kids out; it’s just a great thing, without going over the top.  They will all have to work, but she really puts her wealth to good use to give them a good start.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

If I did win, then I would certainly buy myself a place in the countryside, preferably by the sea or a river as I love the country and bird watching. I love living in London and it’s my home but I definitely would love to have a nice big place that my family could all come and stay or use as a weekend retreat. I’d also pick certain charities and definitely give to Green Peace who I’ve supported for 30 years. Without them, the people who care about the planet wouldn’t have a voice.  I also support lots of animal charities and Friends of the Earth, Marie Curie etc and I would do my best for charity.

You might recognise Alison Steadman from Gavin & Stacey, Fat Friends, The Worst Week of My Life and Pride and Prejudice.

Can you tell us a bit about Mandy?

Mandy is a nurse and has been for 25 years. She has been with her husband, Steve since being a teenager and they have a daughter and granddaughter. She loves her job and is a very good nurse; she loves her family and is a good mum/nanna, but she is the victim of physical and mental abuse from her husband, Steve. The lottery win is a chance for her to take control of her life if she is brave enough to do so.

What attracted you to The Syndicate?

What happens next! The way Mandy’s story is told it hopefully will keep the audience wanting to find out what she will do and then ask why has she done that?

How does Mandy’s win affect her?

Mandy’s win is her chance at freedom from her life as a victim of domestic abuse. Her challenges come as a result of what happens over the couple of days after the win. What could’ve been a very simple ‘walk away situation’ turns into a complete living nightmare.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

If I did do it and won millions I would take my family off to see the world and buy shoes en route.

You might recognise Siobhan Finneran from roles in Downton Abbey, Benidorm and Boy A.

Cna you tell us a bit about your character?

Alan’s somebody who has made a series of bad decisions in his life and the fact that he suddenly has money doesn’t stop him from making those decisions. That’s just him, that’s his character and that’s what he does, unfortunately, which brings many challenges!

How does Alan react when he wins?

He doesn’t handle it at all wisely. He buys a yacht! It’s a spur-of-the-moment, misplaced romantic gesture which he didn’t really think through. He doesn’t really think anything through! He is quite lonely; he doesn’t really have anyone in his life. He starts to develop a relationship with Rose but there are lots of mixed messages and he gets the wrong end of the stick. He goes looking elsewhere for love, gets a bit lost and ends up buying a yacht!

He’d missed a couple of AA meetings before the win. He’s using the lottery as an excuse to drink and is kidding himself that he can handle a couple of glasses of champagne. Followed by half a bottle of vodka…

He goes through a bit of a physical transformation too…

When we first meet Alan, his style is sort of Eighties retro. Having decided that he’s going to try and get a younger girl, he really goes for it and gets waxed and shaved and dyed! He gets a whole new wardrobe: red trousers, that sort of thing. He makes a bit of a fool of himself… it was fun!

What would you do if you won the lottery?

It’s hard to know. It’s nice to have material things but they’re very superficial aren’t they? It would be good to do something worthwhile, buy a theatre and keep that going maybe.

You might recognise Mark Addy from Game of Thrones, Trollied and The Full Monty.

Can you tell us a bit about Becky?

She is young and strays away from responsibility. I think this is because she still lives at home; Becky still heavy relies on her mother to look after the important things in her life.

What attracted you to the role?

Following Becky’s story was thrilling, and I found it difficult to put the script down. Becky is a dream character – she goes through so many different emotions, she experiences the happiest moments of her life and the lowest. I knew it would be a challenge but one I really wanted to achieve.

What would you do if you won the lottery?

I definitely would make sure that my family and close friends were more than comfortable financially. I would donate a generous amount to Marie Curie Cancer Care charity that I regularly help fundraise for the Baildon group in Bradford. I would also help Prism Project, a charity of which I am a patron that helps unsettled young adults in and out of education to achieve in their lives, in the Bradford area.

How does Becky’s win affect her?

The phrase ‘money can’t buy happiness’ is certainly not the case at the beginning. Money can help when you’re a single mother, living at home with two hard-working parents all trying to make ends meet. The money situation brings many lows, but also helps Becky discover what she wants in life.

You might recognise Natalie Gavin from roles in Prisoners’ Wives and Casualty.

Can you tell us a bit about your character?

Tom is a nurse like the other syndicate members; he leads a content if not remarkable life and likes motorbikes. He lives with his partner Natalie and they have been trying to have a baby for a while without any success, which is causing them concern as it has been a number of years. They have tried IVF through the NHS but have used up their quota. Tom hopes that by winning the lottery they could continue their IVF treatment privately. He treats his friends like his family, as he comes from a slightly dysfunctional background. His mother has mental health problems and his father ran off when he was a child, so he has had to be independent as well as caring for his mum. He is racked with being unable to comprehend why his father walked out on them. He is very much an affable guy and is very likeable. People are genuinely fond of Tom and would like the best for him and Natalie.

What attracted you to the role?

When I read the scripts I was instantly excited about the possibility of being involved. I hadn’t seen the first series but remember the buzz around it when it came out and had heard great things about it. I was keen to work with Kay as well, as I had been a fan of her work so jumped at the chance. Overall though it was all about the writing and the chance to play this wonderful character Tom and work with such a great cast.

How does Tom react to the win?

He does buy himself a rather flash Bentley pretty much straight away, I think most people who win like to immediately treat themselves to something that has previously only been a dream. The clothes get more expensive and in Tom’s case he likes he tailored suits and he ends up buying the most amazing house! I think all through this however Tom certainly doesn’t ‘flash’ his cash about and spend it on frivolous things; he has a good head on his shoulders and he does remain in his same job at the hospital, which speaks volumes. As an actor I had a great time, driving a Bentley and wearing expensive suits – who wouldn’t?

What would you do if you won the lottery?

My dream if I won the lottery would be to obviously sort my family out first and then secondly buy a big house in the middle of nowhere to roll around in. An Aston Martin wouldn’t go amiss either!

You might recognise Jimi Mistry from roles in Strike Back, Blood Diamond and East is East.

The Syndicate starts on Tuesday 19 March at 9:00pm on BBC1

Watch a clip from the first episode: