Meet the cast of BBC’s Les Misérables

Dominic West, Olivia Colman and David Oyelowo lead the latest adaptation of Victor Hugo's novel

Les Miserables - Generic Portraits

Les Misérables, the BBC’s song-less adaptation of Victor Hugo’s epic 1862 novel, is stacked with stars – including the likes of Olivia Colman, Lily Collins and David Oyelowo.

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Though fans of the long-running musical will be wary about the decision to ditch the singing, rest assured we’re in good hands: the six-part series has been penned by Andrew Davies, the man behind top notch adaptations including Vanity Fair, Pride and Prejudice, Middlemarch, and War & Peace.

Find out everything you need to know about the cast of the drama below…


Jean Valjean played by Dominic West

Jean Valjean played by Dominic West

Who is Jean Valjean? “One of the greatest superheroes of world literature”, according to West. He was jailed for 19 years for stealing bread to feed his sister and her children, and when he gets out he vows to dedicate the rest of his life to being a good man.

Where have I seen Dominic West before? The Sheffield native starred as Jimmy McNulty in The Wire, and has also had major roles in the recent Tomb Raider adaptation, Chicago, The Affair, Pride, Testament of Youth and 300.


Javert played by David Oyelowo

Javert played by David Oyelowo

Who is Javert? A policeman, and Jean Valjean’s nemesis, who doesn’t believe in his enemy’s redemption and is determined to put him back in prison. He is “a man on his own personal quest for justice”, according to Oyelowo.

Where have I seen David Oyelowo before? He is best known for playing Martin Luther King Jr in Selma, and for roles in Jack Reacher, Interstellar, A Most Violent Year, A United Kingdom and A Wrinkle In Time.


Cosette played by Ellie Bamber

Cosette played by Ellie Bamber

Who is Cosette? Fantine’s daughter who was taken in by Monsieur and Madame Thénardier to be “looked after”, and was treated like a slave throughout her upbringing. “I think Cosette is a representation of hope and the future for the story,” Bamber says.

Where have I seen Ellie Bamber before? She has starred in The Nutcracker and the Four Realms, Pride and Prejudice and Zombies and Nocturnal Animals.

Child Cosettes in Les Miserables

Who plays young Cosette? Mailow Defoy (left) makes her first on-screen appearance as little Cosette. Lia Giovanelli, also a newcomer to acting, takes over the part in episode three as Cosette grows up.


Marius played by Josh O’Connor

Marius played by Josh O'Connor

Who is Marius? A young upper-class man who falls in love with Cosette and is “forced to choose between his political and social conscience”, according to O’Connor. His Napoleon-hating royalist grandfather raised him as his heir and taught him to hate his own father, who was not allowed to see him.

Where have I seen Josh O’Connor before? He played Lawrence in The Durrells, has featured in God’s Own Country and Cinderella, and has signed on to play young Prince Charles in The Crown seasons 3 and 4 alongside Olivia Colman.

Young Marius in Les Miserables

Who plays young Marius? The youngster is first played by Raphael Bishop (left), who has previously appeared in Poldark as Valentine Warleggan. As he grows up, he is played by Woody Norman (right), who has appeared in Troy: Fall of a City, The Current War, The White Princess, Him, and Silent Witness.


Éponine played by Erin Kellyman

Erin Kellyman plays Eponine in Les Miserables

Who is Éponine? The cynical eldest daughter of Madame and Monsieur Thénardier. As a child (played by Sienna Barne) she was doted on by her mother (in contrast to poor Cosette), but by the time we meet her in Paris, she lives in squalor and must hustle for money.

Where have I seen Erin Kellyman before? She played Enfys Nest in Solo: A Star Wars Story.


Madame Thénardier played by Olivia Colman

Madame Thénardier played by Olivia Colman

Who is Madame Thénardier? An innkeeper. “She is deeply unpleasant in every way”, says Colman. She and her husband take in the young Cosette with ulterior motivations.

Where have I seen Olivia Colman before? She played Sophie in Peep Show, and has since starred in The Lobster, The Night Manager, The Favourite, Flowers, Fleabag, Broadchurch, Murder on the Orient Express… and she has also signed on to star as Queen Elizabeth II in The Crown series 3 & 4.


Monsieur Thénardier played by Adeel Akhtar

Monsieur Thénardier played by Adeel Akhtar

Who is Monsiuer Thénardier? A former scavenger-turned-landlord. “He is terrible with money and responsibility so it soon all goes down the pan,” says Akhtar.

Where have I seen Adeel Akhtar before? He has featured in The Night Manager, Utopia, The Big Sick, Unforgotten, Four Lions and Trollied.


Gillenormand played by David Bradley

Gillenormand played by David Bradley in Les Miserables

Who is Gillenormand? Marius’ rich grandfather and guardian. He hates his son-in-law (and Marius’ father) Pontmercy, and utterly detests Napoleon. A relic of the past, he has tried to raise Marius in his own image.

Where have I seen David Bradley before? Harry Potter fans will remember Bradley as Argus Filch. He has also starred in Game of Thrones as Walder Frey, and appeared in Hot Fuzz, The World’s End, Broadchurch, Our Friends in the North, and Captain America: The First Avengers. Bradley has stepped in to portray original Doctor William Hartnell in Doctor Who.


Enjolras played by Joseph Quinn

Les Miserables episode 5

Who is Enjolras? A student and revolutionary who leads the Friends of the ABC, and encourages Marius to join their fight against the establishment.

Where have I seen Joseph Quinn before? Quinn recently played the central role of Leonard Bast in the BBC adaptation of Howard’s End, and has also appeared in Game of Thrones (as Koner), Dickensian and Timewasters.


Gavroche played by Reece Yates

Les Miserables episode 5

Who is Gavroche? The neglected youngest child of the Thénardier family, Gavroche has largely raised himself on the streets of Paris.

Where have I seen Reece Yates before? Yates has appeared in Michaela Coel film Been So Long. He’s soon to show up in Come Away, a Peter Pan prequel also starring Angelina Jolie, Michael Caine, David Oyelowo and Derek Jacobi.


Courfeyrac played by Archie Madekwe

Courfeyrac played by Archie Madekwe in Les Miserables

Who is Courfeyrac? Marius’ best friend, and a student revolutionary who is committed to fighting alongside Enjolras when the time comes.

Where have I seen Archie Madekwe before? The young actor has played Eddy in Informer, Jackson Bailey in Hang Ups, and Luca in Fresh Meat.


Grantaire played by Turlough Convery

Grantaire played by Turlough Convery in Les Miserables

Who is Grantaire? One of Marius’ drinking pals and a student revolutionary. He doesn’t take things quite so seriously as Enjolras or Courfeyrac, but despite his drunkenness he is committed to the cause – and to his friends.

Where have I seen Turlough Convery before? You may recognise him as Tom Harry from Poldark. He has also played Liam in My Mad Fat Diary, Stingray in the Black Mirror episode White Christmas, McNeish in Lovesick, and Declan in Doing Money.


Donald Sumpter plays Monsieur Mabeuf

Donald Sumpter plays Mabeuf in Les Miserables

Who is Mabeuf? Monsieur Mabeuf works at the church in Paris where Marius went every Sunday as a child, and where he now returns as an adult. He observed as Marius’ father Pontmercy watched the boy from afar.

Where have I seen Donald Sumpter before? Now 75, Donald Sumpter’s acting career dates back to the sixties. He has appeared in films including In the Heart of the Sea, The Constant Gardener and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and in TV series including Doctor Who (as the President), Jekyll & Hyde, and Being Human. Sumpter also played Maester Luwin in Game of Thrones.


Enzo Cilenti plays Rivette

Enzo Cilenti plays Rivette

Who is Rivette? Rivette works for Javert in the Paris police.

Where have I seen Enzo Cilenti before? The actor starred (without his moustache) in the latest series of Luther, playing Jeremy Lake. Other recent roles include DS Joe Townsend in Next of Kin and Aubrey Hackett in The Last Tycoon. He was the brilliantly-named Yezzan zo Qaggaz in Game of Thrones.


Nicolette played by Emma Fielding

Nicolette played by Emma Fielding in Les Miserables

Who is Nicolette? Gillenormand’s servant. She looks after Marius and believes he should be allowed to know his father.

Where have I seen Emma Fielding before? A prolific actress on stage and screen, Emma Fielding has recently appeared in Unforgotten, Close to the Enemy, EastEnders, and Dark Angel.


Azelma played by Alex Jarrett

Alex Jarrett plays Azelma in Les Miserables

Who is Azelma? Like her older sister Éponine, Azelma was treated nicely as a young child (played by Amani Johnson) but now lives in poverty and squalor.

Where have I seen Alex Jarrett before? Before taking on this role, Alex Jarrett’s previous screen credits include The Jonah Man, Tracey Breaks the News, and The Rebel. She is also the former Young Mayor of Newham, and appeared in the London 2012 Olympic opening ceremony.


Fantine played by Lily Collins

Fantine played by Lily Collins in Les Misérables, BBC Pictures

Who is Fantine? A young woman who thinks she has found the man of her dreams in the wealthy Felix, but, says Collins, “unfortunately she has to create a life that she wasn’t planning on…”

Fantine played by Lily Collins

Where have I seen Lily Collins before? She is the daughter of singer Phil. She has featured in Netflix films Okja and To The Bone along with YA flicks The Mortal Instruments and Love, Rosie.


Hair and teeth dealer played by Ron Cook

Hair and teeth dealer played by Ron Cook in Les Miserables

Who is the hair and teeth dealer? Take a wild guess. This charming man tours French towns and villages, cutting off hair and taking teeth from the desperate. He also sells dentures, wigs, and dolls with real human hair.

Where have I seen Ron Cook before? A prolific character actor, Ron Cook has appeared in TV shows including Mr Selfridge, The City and the City, Little Dorrit and The Diary of Anne Frank. He played George Merchant in the movie Hot Fuzz.


Sister Simplice played by Natalie Simpson

Sister Simple played by Natalie Simpson in Les Miserables

Who is Sister Simplice? A kind-hearted nun who we first meet in Montreuil, where she works in the infirmary ministering to the sick.

Where have I seen Natalie Simpson before? She stars in time travel drama Outlander as Phaedre, and took on all the big roles at the Royal Shakespeare Company – playing Ophelia in Hamlet, Guideria in Cymbeline and Cordelia in King Lear.


Madame Rully played by Anna Calder-Marshall

Anna Calder-Marshall plays Valjean's nosy landlady in Les Miserables

Who is Madame Rully? The nosy “principal tenant” at Valjean’s lodgings in Paris.

Where have I seen Anna Calder-Marshall before? Back in 1970 she starred as Cathy in the movie Wuthering Heights. More recent credits include Harlots, Casualty, New Tricks, and Scott & Bailey.


Madame Victurnien played by Kathryn Hunter

Female foreman Madame Victurnien played by Kathryn Hunter in Les Miserables

Who is Madame Victurnien? The director of the factory where Fantine finds work in Monetruil-sur-Mer. She is a vicious and suspicious woman, and takes against Fantine.

Where have I seen Kathryn Hunter before? An acclaimed star of stage and screen, Hunter has appeared in Harry Potter (as Arabella Figg), Silent Witness, and Black Earth Rising.


Abbess played by Georgie Glen

Abbess played by Georgie Glen in Les Miserables

Who is the Abbess? The Abbess is the head of a convent of nuns in Paris.

Where have I seen Georgie Glen before? You’re likely to have seen her in something, because Georgie Glen has an extremely long list of film and TV credits including Sally4Ever, Damned, Jackie, The Evermoor Chronicles, Waterloo Road, and Doctors. She also plays the new receptionist Miss Higgins in Call the Midwife.


Colonel Pontmercy played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes

Pontmercy played by Henry Lloyd-Hughes

Who is Colonel Pontmercy? Marius’ father, a soldier under Napoleon.

Where have I seen Henry Lloyd-Hughes before? He has featured in The Inbetweeners, The Durrells, Will, Indian Summers and Now You See Me 2.


Letter Writer played by Alan David

Letter Writer played by Alan David in Les Miserables

Who is the Letter Writer? In a society with high levels of illiteracy, the poor must go to the Letter Writer to dictate their messages and have their letters read to them.

Where have I seen Alan David before? Aside from his theatre work, Alan David has played Griff in Gavin & Stacey, Mr Gabriel Sneed in Doctor Who, and Glynn Flint in Benidorm.


Felix played by Johnny Flynn

Felix played by Johnny Flynn

Who is Felix? A wealthy young man who woos Fantine, but has no intention of staying with her.

Where have I seen Johnny Flynn before? The former folk-singer played Dylan on Lovesick, William Dobbin in Vanity Fair, young Albert Einstein in Genius, and has also featured in Beast, Detectorists and Inside No. 9.


Fantine’s concierge played by Liz Carr

Fantine's concierge played by Liz Carr in Les Miserables

Who is Fantine’s concierge? In episode one, Felix rents Fantine a nice room in a house with a concierge.

Where have I seen Liz Carr before? You’re most likely to recognise her from forensics drama Silent Witness, where she plays regular character Clarissa Mullery.


The Bishop played by Derek Jacobi

The Bishop played by Derek Jacobi

Who is The Bishop? It’s in the name – he helps Jean Valjean reform himself after his prison stint.

Where have I seen Derek Jacobi before? He played Gracchus is Gladiator, Probert in Gosford Park andCaron in The Day of The Jackal, and led BBC drama Last Tango in Halifax. He also recently featured in Kenneth Branagh’s Murder on the Orient Express alongside Les Mis co-star Olivia Colman.

This article was originally published in December 2018

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Les Misérables airs on Sundays at 9/8c on PBS Masterpiece


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