Meet the cast of Death and Nightingales

Fifty Shades of Grey star Jamie Dornan reunites with The Fall creator for this suspenseful BBC2 adaptation set in nineteenth-century rural Ireland

Ann Skelly as Beth and Jamie Dornan as Liam in Death and Nightingales (BBC)

Jamie Dornan is reuniting with The Fall writer Allan Cubitt for BBC2’s Death and Nightingales, an adaptation of Eugene McCabe’s gripping book of the same name.


Set in rural Fermanagh in Ireland, the three-part series takes place over the course of just one 24-hour period in 1885, and follows a young woman’s attempts to escape her father’s strict household.

Here’s everything you need to know about the cast of Death and Nightingales.

Jamie Dornan plays Liam Ward

Jamie Dornan plays Liam Ward in Death and Nightingales

Who is Liam Ward? Jamie Dornan plays Liam Ward, a charming young man whom Beth decides to run away with.

He says: “I’m thrilled to be reunited with Allan and his brilliant scripts to play such an intriguing character like Liam Ward and to return to Northern Ireland and BBC2.”

Where have I seen Jamie Dornan before? Dornan is best known for playing serial killer Paul Spector in BBC2’s The Fall and as Christian Grey in the Fifty Shades of Grey film franchise.

He’s also starred in Marie Antoinette alongside Kirsten Dunst, and in ABC’s Once Upon a Time and Channel 4’s New Worlds.

Matthew Rhys plays Billy Winters

Matthew Rhys plays Beth's stepfather, Billy Winters, in Death and Nightingales (BBC)

Who is Billy Winteres? Rhys plays Billy Winters, Beth’s strict Protestant stepfather, whose relationship with her is complex and difficult. Will she make the break and leave him when the moment comes?

Where have I seen Matthew Rhys before? Rhys is best known for his Emmy-winning role as an undercover KGB spy in The Americans, alongside his partner, Keri Russell.

He’s also shown up in Brothers & Sisters, Death Comes to Pemberley, The Edge of Love and Girls.

Ann Skelly plays Beth Winters

Ann Skelly plays Beth Winters in Death and Nightingales

Who is Beth Winters? Ann Skelly plays Beth Winters, who turns 23 as the series begins. She has a difficult relationship with her Protestant father, and decides to run away on her birthday with a young man named Liam Ward.

“Playing such a strong character as Beth Winters is truly an actor’s dream, and a fantastically intense challenge to be given the opportunity to play,” Skelly says of the character.

“And to get to work with such brilliant actors like Matthew and Jamie, and a director like Allan Cubitt, is just surreal to me.”

Where have I seen Ann Skelly before? The Irish actress has previously appeared in Red Rock, Vice series Playground, and as Annie Moffat in the BBC’s adaptation of Little Women.

Valene Kane plays Catherine Winters

Valene Kane plays Catherine Winters in Death and Nightingales

Who is Catherine Winters? Valene Kane plays Catherine, a Catholic and Beth’s mother, who died in a tragic accident.

Where have I seen Valene Kane before? The Irish actress is probably best known for playing Rose Stagg, the ex-girlfriend of serial killer Paul Spector (played Jamie Dornan) in The Fall.

Sci-fi fans might also recognise her as Lyra Erso (Felicity Jones’ mum) in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.

Charlene McKenna plays Mercy Boyle

Mercy, Death and Nightingales (BBC)

Who is Mercy Boyle? Charlene McKenna plays Mercy Boyle, the Winters’ loyal maid, who feels particularly protective towards Beth.

Where have I seen Charlene McKenna before? The Irish actress is perhaps best known for playing Rose Erskine is Ripper Street and Clare Cartmell in Stan Lee’s Lucky Man.

Michael Smiley plays Dummy McGonnell

Michael Smiley plays Dummy McGonnell

Who is Dummy McGonnell? Michael Smiley plays the local mute beggar, Dummy McGonnell, whom Beth offers food and drink to on her 23rd birthday.

Where have I seen Michael Smiley before? Born in Belfast, Smiley is probably best recognised for playing DS Benny Silver in BBC1’s long-running detective drama Luther.

He also played Baxter in the acclaimed Black Mirror episode White Bear.

Pip Torrens plays Maurice Fairbrother

Pip Torren, Death and Nightingales (BBC)

Who is Maurice Fairbrother? Pip Torrens plays Maurice Fairbrother, a Englishman of mystery with a web of informants — and who tries to extract information from Billy Winters.

Where have I seen Pip Torrens before? Torrens is probably best known for playing British courtier Tommy Lascelles in the Netflix’s acclaimed drama The Crown.

He’s also starred in a huge range of films, including The Iron Lady, War Horse and Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Martin McCann plays Frank Blessing

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until 00:00:01 on 01/12/2018 - Programme Name: Death and Nightingales - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: Frank Blessing (MARTIN MCCANN) - (C) Night Flight Pictures Ltd 2018 - Photographer: Teddy Cavendish

Who is Frank Blessing? Martin McCann plays Frank Blessing, Liam Ward’s shady colleague who’s brought in to kill the Winters’ pig.

Where have I seen Martin McCann before? Born in Belfast, McCann has starred in HBO’s The Pacific as R.V. Burgin, and played Bono in the comedy film Killing Bono.


Death and Nightingales first airs on BBC2 on Wednesday 28th November at 9pm