Nicola Walker and Eddie Marsan join Stellan Skarsgård in Abi Morgan’s BBC1 thriller River

The Last Tango in Halifax actress will play the colleague and confidant of Skarsgård’s policeman with Marsan taking on the role of a killer in the six-part series

Last Tango in Halifax star Nicola Walker will play a senior detective in BBC1’s new drama series River written by The Hour creator Abi Morgan.

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Walker, who was nominated for a Bafta earlier this year for her role as Derek Jacobi’s on-screen daughter Gillian in Last Tango, will play Detective Sergeant Jackie ‘Stevie’ Stevenson, a colleague and close friend of troubled policeman John River.

Played by 63-year-old Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgård, best known as Martin Vanger in the 2011 movie The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, River is a brilliant but psychologically fragile man who is “haunted by the murder victims whose cases he must lay to rest”.

The BBC has also announced that Eddie Marsan – known to fans of Sky Atlantic drama Ray Donovan as Ray’s brother Terry – will take on the part of a notorious killer who haunts River.

Other confirmed castings include Adeel Akhtar (Utopia) as Detective Sergeant Ira King and Lesley Manville (An Adventure in Space and Time) who will play Chief Inspector Chrissie Read. Sorcha Cusack (Father Brown) has been cast as Stevie’s mother, Bridie and Sherlock’s Georgina Rich will play police psychiatrist Rosa.

Morgan – whose 1950s-set drama The Hour starred Dominic West, Ben Whishaw and Romola Garai but was axed after two series to the dismay of fans – said she was delighted with the casting line-up: “Actors are agents of change. They carry the vision of an entire creative team. A show like River needs broad shoulders and I can’t think of anyone better than Stellan Skarsgård to take on this challenge and lead this brilliant cast.” 

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The six-part drama is being filmed in east London and will air on BBC1 in 2015.