BBC1’s intriguing new TV series Informer takes us into the murky world of police informants, as a young British-Pakistani man called Raza Shar (Nabhaan Rizwan) finds himself coerced and recruited by Counter-Terrorism Officer DS Gabe Waters (Paddy Considine).
Gabe himself has a past he wants to remain secret, but his new partner is DC Holly Morten (Bel Powley), a diligent cop with endless curiosity. Soon the counter-terrorism investigation starts to heat up – with higher and higher stakes for all three characters and their families.
Informer is billed as telling “a story about identity in a world where lines are increasingly being drawn and sides are being taken.”
But what are the identities of these characters and the actors who play them? Here are all the people you need to meet…
Nabhaan Rizwan plays Raza Shar
Who is Raza Shar? A second-generation British-Pakistani man born and raised in East London, Raza is a good son and a loving big brother. He works a minimum wage job and moves in various social circles, transforming from hipster to intellectual to “street-wise hustler”. But after a night of partying lands him behind bars for a minor offence, he catches the attention of London’s Counter-Terrorism Special Unit (CTSU) and is recruited as an informant.
Where have I seen Nabhaan Rizwan before? You probably haven’t. The young actor makes his on-screen debut in Informer, although he has already caught the eye on stage in Little Revolution at the Almeida Theature and The Undergrowth at the Royal Court.
Paddy Considine plays DS Gabe Waters
Who is DS Gabe Waters? An experienced officer in the CTSU, Gabe is an expert at navigating the streets and communities of London to fight the war on terror. He’s the handler of a network of East London informants and must do whatever it takes to gather crucial information – whether he uses charm, manipulation, coercion or persuasion. There are also hints that he had a previous life as an undercover agent, a past he wants to remain secret.
Where have I seen Paddy Considine before? The veteran actor has plenty of roles under his belt, having appeared in a heap of TV shows and movies including Hot Fuzz, The Bourne Ultimatum, Dead Man’s Shoes, The Suspicions of Mr Whicher, and Blitz. He’s also acted in and directed music videos including Coldplay’s God Put a Smile upon Your Face and the Arctic Monkeys’ Leave Before the Lights Come On.Recent roles have included Father John Hughes in Peaky Blinders and Andreyev in Armando Iannucci’s The Death of Stalin.
Bel Powley plays DC Holly Morten
Who is DC Holly Morten? As the BBC describes her, “Holly is one of a new generation of police officers that make up London’s thin blue line; a millennial who grew up in the age of the internet… for her, the war on terror is not a battle, it is a permanent state of being.” A talented officer who came top of her class at training college, she’s assigned as Gabe’s new partner.
Where have I seen Bel Powley before? Nominated for a Bafta Rising Star Award in 2016, Bel Powley’s credits include The Diary of a Teenage Girl (alongside Alexander Skarsgård and Kristen Wiig), Mary Shelley (with Elle Fanning and Maisie Williams), and A Royal Night Out (as Princess Margaret).
Sharon D Clarke plays DCI Rose Asante
Who is DCI Rose Asante? An Oxbridge graduate who “could’ve walked into a job at any consultancy firm”, Rose has instead chosen to dedicate her career to the Metropolitan Police, forging a path to the top. She’s a DCI in London’s Counter-Terrorism Special Unit and has unshakeable faith in her cause, believing that the ends always justifies the means: she’ll do what it takes to keep the public safe.
Where have I seen Sharon D Clarke before? The actress recently made her Doctor Who debut in Jodie Whittaker’s first episode of series 11. Holby City fans will also remember her as Dr Lola Griffin, and musical theatre fans will recognise her from performances in We Will Rock You, Shrek the Musical and Ghost the Musical.
Jessica Raine plays Emily Waters
Who is Emily Waters? Gabe’s wife, and the mother of their young daughter. So far their marriage has worked on the understanding that she won’t ask about his work – which is totally confidential. But she becomes increasingly disturbed as she begins to realise Gabe is keeping huge secrets about his past from her.
Where have I seen Jessica Raine before? After leaving her role as Jenny Lee from Call the Midwife, the actress has played Jane Rochford in Wolf Hall, Jules Sutter in Fortitude, Alison Laithwaite in The Last Post, and recently Benedict Cumberbatch’s lover Julia in Patrick Melrose.
Roger Jean Nsengiyumva plays Dadir Hassan
Who is Dadir Hassan? A third-generation British-Somali young man who was raised in East London. He’s a live wire who can switch from affection to violence in the blink of an eye.
Where have I seen Roger Jean Nsengiyumva before? The actor’s previous roles include DC Slater in Armchair Detectives, Coli Eli in Chasing Shadows and Jamal in Postcode. On the big screen he’s been Rog in Tomb Raider.
Rachel Tucker plays Sharon Collins
Who is Sharon Collins? A figure from Gabe’s past as an undercover officer within the English nationalist movement.
Where have I seen Rachel Tucker before? The actress has starred in a number of high-profile plays and musicals, including playing Elphaba in Wicked and Meat in Wie Will Rock You. She auditioned for Nancy in I’d Do Anything.
Arinzé Kene plays Sal Brahimi
Who is Sal Brahimi? The coach at Dadir’s boxing club. Raza joins as a new member and quickly gets into sparring.
Where have I seen Arinzé Kene before? The actor’s previous projects include Crazyhead, Our Girl (as Corp Kinders), Youngers, and EastEnders (as Connor Stanley). On the big screen he’s starred alongside Russell Tovey in The Pass, and on stage he’s played Simba in The Lion King.
Mim Shaikh plays Cut Waleed
Who is Cut Waleed? One of Dadir’s friends on the Bridge Town Estate.
Where have I seen Mim Shaikh before? The radio presenter, actor and TV personality has just released his own emotional hour-long BBC documentary, Finding Dad, in which he goes in search of the father he hasn’t seen since he was a baby. He’s also appeared in South Side Story, Pls Like and Shield 5, and has shows on BBC Radio 1Xtra and BBC Asian Network.
Arsher Ali plays Imran Aziz
Who is Imran Aziz? One of Gabe’s informants, working undercover on the Bridge Town Estate. He pretends to have a limp and has built up a whole persona.
Where have I seen Arsher Ali before? A well-known face on British TV, Arsher Ali starred as Malik Suri in The Missing, Samir Qureshi in Ackley Bridge, Hari in Line of Duty, and Zak Khan in Silent Witness. You may also recognise him as Hassan from the movie Four Lions.
Olivia Popica plays Roxy Novac
Who is Roxy Novac? Roxy, a waitress, had a casual relationship with Yousef Hassan (Abubakar Salim) – Dadir’s older brother and one of Gabe’s secret informants.
Where have I seen Olivia Popica before? The actress starred as Fatima in Riviera, and as Halima in Tyrant.
Nell Hudson plays Charlotte Humphreys
Who is Charlotte Humphreys? Raza’s friend and potential love interest. She’s at art school and moves in privileged circles – but Raza is a chameleon who can make himself fit into all sorts of different worlds.
Where have I seen Nell Hudson before? Two roles have so far defined the young actress’s career: Laoghaire MacKenzie in Outlander, and Skerrett in Victoria.
Paul Tylak plays Hanif Shar
Who is Hanif Shar? Raza’s dad is a vocal armchair social warrior and an avid reader of the news – but because of his heavy drinking, he can rarely be stirred to action.
Where have I seen Paul Tylak before? The Irish actor and comedian has appeared in shows including Roy, Nelly & Nora, Sydney Sailboat, Nowhere Fast and Capital Letters.
Reiss Jeram plays Nasir Shar
Who is Nasir Shar? Raza’s little brother Nasir has a quick wit and a studious mind that puts him top of his class, but he has few friends. His father’s an alcoholic, his brother’s off doing his own thing, and Nasir is in search of a male role model.
Where have I seen Reiss Jeram before? The actor previously appeared as Hassan in the TV series Murdered By My Father.
Kaine Zajaz plays Akash Williams
Who is Akash Williams? A Muslim convert and online extremist who lives on the Bridge Town Estate with his exasperated grandma and grandad, although his superficial “fundamentalist” views are mainly an outlet for his rage and alienation. He befriends young Nasir, which may turn out to be very bad news.
Where have I seen Kaine Zajaz before? The young actor starred as Lee Rhind in Caitlin Moran’s Raised by Wolves. Since then, he’s played Dylan Parks in Hang Ups and Patrick in National Treasure: Kiri.
Sunetra Sarker plays Sadia Shar
Who is Sadia Shar? Mother to Raza and little brother Nasir. She runs a salon and has a sharp wit, but worries over the two boys.
Where have I seen Sunetra Sarker before? The actress is perhaps best known for her role of Dr Zoe Hanna in Casualty, which she played for nine years. You may also recognise her as Nisha Batra from Brookside, Anji Mittel in No Angels and Nasreen’s mum Kaneez Paracha in Ackley Bridge. Sunetra Sarker became a Strictly Come Dancing star in 2014 when she partnered with Brendan Cole, making it to week ten.
This article was originally published in October 2018