Lenny Henry will take a lead role in the third series of Kay Mellor’s lottery drama The Syndicate.
He will play a gardener called Godfrey in the six new episodes where the lucky lottery winners will be the staff of a stately home.
Joining him in the cast is Anthony Andrews – best known for playing Lord Sebastian Flyte in the 1981 TV epic Brideshead Revisited – who will appear as Lord Hazelwood, owner of the ailing Hazelwood Manor near Scarborough.
Elizabeth Berrington – who starred in the Sky comedy Stella and is known to Doctor Who fans for playing the part of Auntie in the Matt Smith series six episode The Doctor’s Wife – will portray the cleaner Dawn in the popular drama.
The other staff are housekeeper Sarah played by Cara Theobold (Downton Abbey, Scrotal Recall, Call The Midwife), Cilla actress Melanie Hill’s cook Julie and groomsman cum odd-job man Sean played by Richard Rankin (The Crimson Field).
Lenny Henry’s Godfrey formed the lottery syndicate with his colleagues years ago as he was convinced he could work out how to win it mathematically. He is a high functioning person with Asperger’s syndrome and as the series opens he is certain he’s finally cracked the system.
He gives cleaner Dawn a list of this week’s ‘winning lottery numbers’ according to his statistics. A series of mishaps ensues and all seems lost – but then it hits them: seemingly against all the odds, they have won £14 million.
Mellor said: “The Syndicate 3 is a completely new series, with a fresh new world and brand new characters, the staff of a crumbling stately home: the Cook, House Manager, Gardener, Cleaner and Game Keeper. It’s about new money – ordinary people who win a life changing amount of money on the lottery.
“I was excited by the idea of setting the syndicate winners amongst the old money of a crumbling stately home, where Lord and Lady Hazelwood’s inherited money is fast running out. It’s a delicious premise which enables me to look at class and social politics within the framework of a drama – ‘downstairs’ becoming instantly wealthier than ‘upstairs’. I’m able to explore how the lack of money and greed have a devastating effect and how a sudden change in fortune can bring about its own problems.”
Lenny Henry added: “I’m delighted to be filming series 3 of The Syndicate – I’ve been a big fan of Kay Mellor’s since Band of Gold and Playing the Field, so to actually be on set with her as writer/director is just lovely.”
The first series of The Syndicate aired in 2012, featuring Matthew Lewis, Timothy Spall, Joanna Page and Matthew McNulty and focusing on five supermarket staff who beat the odds to win the lottery. Series two was broadcast in 2013, starring Alison Steadman, Siobhan Finneran, Jimi Mistry and Mark Addy with the action switching to a group of hospital workers who come up with the winning numbers.
The new series will has begun shooting on location in Yorkshire and is expected to air on BBC1 in 2015.