The Split returns with a whole load of familiar faces – and some new characters, too.
Written by Abi Morgan, The Split airs on Tuesdays from 11th February 2020 on BBC One at 9pm. We’ve rounded up the key info about all the major characters, as well as where you’ve seen the actors before…
Nicola Walker plays Hannah Stern
Who is Hannah Stern? A divorce lawyer, from the Defoes – a family of female divorce lawyers. In series one she’d caused some upset by joining a big rival firm, but now it has actually merged with Defoe family firm, creating the catchily-named Noble Hale Defoe and reuniting Hannah with her mum Ruth and sister Nina. Along with youngest sister Rose, they’re also still recovering from their estranged father-in-law Oscar (Anthony Head)’s sudden reappearance in their lives – and his equally sudden death, which has left them with a box of ashes to scatter (illegally) on Hampstead Heath.
Hannah was devastated in series one when she found out that husband of 20 years, Nathan, had used an online dating site to cheat on her. The discovery caused a rift in her marriage and pushed her towards old flame (and new colleague) Christie. In the finale she made the decision to spend the night with Christie, and they’re now heading towards a full-blown secret affair – behind Nathan’s back.
What else has Nicola Walker been in? A lot of big TV series! She plays DCI Cassie Stuart in Unforgotten and Gillian in Last Tango in Halifax, and she was in Collateral (as Jane Oliver), River (as Jackie “Stevie” Stevenson) and Babylon (as Sharon), as well as starring as Ruth Evershed in Spooks. Nicola Walker also won an Olivier Award for her role in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and you may recognise her as the folk singer from Four Weddings and Funeral.
Stephen Mangan plays Nathan
Who is Nathan? According to the BBC, “Nathan met Hannah at law school twenty years ago. During their pupillage they both specialised in family law. Nathan then became a barrister, the go-to legal mind in an emerging and lucrative field; fertility & surrogacy cases.” They had kids together and everything seemed to be just fine, until series one exposed the cracks in their marriage.
Stephen Mangan says: “Nathan is desperate to make everything okay at the start of the second series. His father-in-law died. He’d been caught having an affair. He knows or suspects that there was something possibly going on with Christie and Hannah, but he feels that they are through all that. And so he is being relentlessly cheerful at the start of the second series, despite some of the evidence in front of him.”
What else has Stephen Mangan been in? Stephen Mangan is perhaps best-known for his comic roles, playing Sean Lincoln in Episodes, Guy Secretan in Green Wing, and Dan Moody in I’m Alan Partridge. He has also starred in the Olivier-winning comedy Jeeves and Wooster in Perfect Nonsense, and been nominated for a Tony for his role in The Norman Conquests. Other credits have included Richard Pitt in Hang Ups, Andrew in Bliss, and Dirk Gently in… well, in Dirk Gently.
Barry Atsma plays Christie
Who is Christie? A family lawyer at Noble & Hale, which has now become Noble Hale Defoe. He is Hannah’s old flame, and he never stopped carrying a torch for her despite her marriage to Nathan – so when he saw his chance, he was determined to win her again.
As Barry Atsma says, series two begins “right in the middle of the start of their extramarital affair, so it’s still very secretive, very tense. It’s fun, but already difficult because Christie obviously wants more time with Hannah than she can offer, and Hannah is already doubting if it’s the right choice.”
An affair is never without danger, and never without the stress of having an affair, it’s never stress free. And that’s where we find Hannah and Christie – trying to be together but finding their way – and how does that work? Does it work? They’re not quite sure, both of them.
What else has Barry Atsma been in? The Dutch actor has had a pretty international acting career. In English, his roles have included Peter van Syoc in The Rook, Arjen in Episodes (alongside his The Split love rival Stephen Mangan!), and Moreno in The Hitman’s Bodyguard. Other TV shows and movies have included Bad Banks, Klem, Tatau, and Rozengeur & Wodka Lime.
Deborah Findlay plays Ruth Defoe
Who is Ruth Defoe? The matriarch. She raised three daughters on her own – Hannah, Nina and Rose – and now the eldest two have become family lawyers, just like her. Ruth is a tricky, prickly character, but also a very successful career woman in her field who doesn’t want to be pushed aside by the merger of the two firms.
Deborah Findlay says: “She gets offered a role as a teacher in a law school, which she sort of does for a bit, and in doing that she reconnects with an old friend, and that develops. So, throughout the second series she becomes much more concerned with the family and how her children are getting on and also developing a new relationship for her.”
What else has Deborah Findlay been in? Since her first roles in the 1980s, Deborah Findlay has been working hard. She’s won an Olivier Award for her performance in the play Stanley, and has had a high-profile career as a stage actress. On screen, she’s been in Collateral (as Eleanor Shaw), Hampstead, Vanity Fair, The Lady in the Van (as Pauline), State of Play, Torchwood (Denise Riley), and Cranford (Miss Augusta Tomkinson).
Annabel Scholey plays Nina
Who is Nina? A divorce lawyer who worked under her mum at the family firm – not always harmoniously. Nina is a self-destructive kleptomaniac with plenty of issues bubbling under the surface, and in series one she fell for one of her clients – the comedian Rex, who was involved in a custody battle for his son.
Annabel Scholey says: “We leave her in a disconcertingly calm place at the end of series one, and so I suppose it’s not very surprising that we start the next series and she’s not in a calm, settled place anymore. She’s in a classic Nina situation again. Rex is not in the picture, and while we don’t find out loads about what happened, it’s clear it isn’t Nina’s fault that it’s broken down. She started to trust him and fall into that relationship and then she was let down.”
What else has Annabel Scholey been in? Recent roles have included Amena in the TV series Britannia and Contessina in political family drama Medici. Before that, she was Gemma Nunn in Inspector George Gently, Maddie in the movie Walking on Sunshine, and Lauren in Being Human, as well as Diana Rivers in the 2006 adaptation of Jane Eyre (with Ruth Wilson and Toby Stephens). Annabel Scholey is also set for a role in the upcoming BBC drama Salisbury.
Fiona Button plays Rose Defoe
Who is Rose Defoe? The youngest sister. For much of series one she was agonising over whether to marry fiancé James, but ultimately she decided to go for it – though her estranged father died that very night, which was a bit of a shock. But series two will bring plenty more surprises…
Fiona Button says: “She gets pregnant early on in episode one, so I think that sort of takes over! It’s slightly unexpected – she’s back off honeymoon and then wham bam she’s pregnant. I think the doubts are resolved. But there are new problems that arise.”
What else has Fiona Button been in? On screen, she’s played Jennifer Chambers in Grantchester and Tess Roberts in Lip Service, and appeared in You, Me and the Apocalypse, My Mother and Other Strangers, and Foyle’s War. Fiona Button is also known for her stage work, including a role in Madame de Sade opposite Judi Dench, Rosamund Pike, and also her The Split co-star Deborah Findley! Her other theatre credits include Wendy and Peter Pan, Tis Pity She’s a Whore, Posh, and The Importance of Being Earnest.
Donna Air plays Fi Hansen
Who is Fi Hansen? A well-known TV personality who performs with her husband, Richie Hansen. They have two sons together, but as Donna Air says, “on the face of it they’re a picture-perfect family, but we see that that is a far cry from what the camera lenses don’t actually see.” Fi approaches divorce lawyer Hannah Stern in episode one.
What else has Donna Air been in? It’s hard to summarise Donna Air’s career in the public eye. As an actress, she started out as Charlie Charlton in Byker Grove at the age of just ten; she’s also made appearances in The Mummy Returns, A Dinner of Herbs, Hollyoaks, and Age of Kill.
But that’s not all – because as a teenager she also launched a career in music, with the group Byker Grooove! (remember the song “Love Your Sexy“?) and pop duo Crush (Jellyhead and Luv’d Up). Later she became a TV host, and she’s also competed in Celebrity Masterchef, I’m A Celebrity, Splash! and Dancing on Ice. Also, fun fact: she’s previously dated James Middleton, brother of Catherine.
Ben Bailey Smith plays Richie Hansen
Who is Richie Hansen? Fi’s husband, who is a former musician turned record producer and TV personality. Ben Bailey Smith says: “They’re very much in the public eye, which he loves, and he craves attention, but we soon realise that he only gets to say he craves these things because he’s a sociopath. He has no empathy for his wife… He’s abusive and all around quite a nasty piece of work. He’s not a good person.”
What else has Ben Bailey Smith been in? You might know him better by his stage name (and nickname) Doc Brown – under which he’s performed as a rapper and comedian. Acting roles have included Rufus in Britannia, Lt Col Ben Carmichael in the recent series of Silent Witness, Blake in Clearing Up, and Durkas Cicero in 2018 Doctor Who episode The Tsuranga Conundrum. He’s also voiced Sid the Squirrel and a bunch of other characters in 101 Dalmatian Street, and played Nathan Carter in the CBBC series 4 O’Clock Club. Ben Bailey Smith is the younger brother of White Teeth novelist Zadie Smith.
Chukwudi Iwuji plays Zander Hale
Who is Zander Hale? Boss of the newly-merged Noble Hale Defoe.
What else has Chukwudi Iwuji been in? The actor is perhaps best-known for starring as Dr Eli Mays in Designated Survivor, and playing Colin Moore in the hit Netflix drama When They See Us. He’s also been in John Wick: Chapter 2, Doctor Who (as the character Carl in the two episodes Day of the Moon and The Impossible Astronaut), and will soon be appearing as Mingo in TV series The Underground Railroad.
Damien Molony plays Tyler Donaghue
Who is Tyler? A management consultant (and one-time lawyer) who Zander has just hired to “help us for a while” – which has everyone unsettled as he promises to “cut away fat”. Zander also surprises everyone by announcing in a meeting that he and Tyler are not only dating, but are getting married!
What else has Damien Molony been in? The actor has recently played Dylan in Brassic, Jon in GameFace, Anthony in Crashing, and Bourke Cockran in long-delayed movie The Current War. He was Detective Constable Albert Flight in Ripper Street, Hal in Being Human, and Danny Dempsey in Clean Break.
Amaka Okafor plays Chloe
Who is Chloe? A trainee lawyer working with Nathan. Chloe is a new character for series two.
What else has Amaka Okafor been in? On screen, she’s appeared in Vera, Doctors, Grandpa in My Pocket, and Kicking Off. But most of her roles so far have been on the stage, including parts in Macbeth and Hamlet at the National Theatre.
Rudi Dharmalingam plays James
Who is James? Rose’s husband. He’s goofy, he loves his wife, and he’s keen to embrace her whole family. But their wedding nearly didn’t happen in series one, and the actor warns: “Rose will always question whether James is the man of her dreams. James will always question his worthiness of Rose and whether he can truly trust her again.”
What else has Rudi Dharmalingam been in? His most recent credits are Tin Star (as Joe) and Dark Money (as the investigative journalist Dominic). Before that, the actor played Milan in Our Girl, Gopan in Strike Back, Alex in Rellik, and Tariq in Hollyoaks. He’s also had a minor role in Doctor Who, playing an ISA Worker in the 2012 episode Dinosaurs on a Spaceship, and has an impressive list of theatre credits – including a role in the 2015 production of Hamlet alongside Benedict Cumberbatch.
Mathew Baynton plays Rex Pope
Who is Rex Pope? We met stand-up comedian Rex in series one, when he was going through a divorce from wife Sarah and was arguing over access to his young son (particularly contentious after he announced his new show, My Ex-Wife’s A Bitch). Rex and Nina hit things off and soon began a relationship. However, Rex ultimately decided to get back together with his wife and move the family over to Los Angeles – leaving Nina behind. But in the final episode of series two, he makes a sudden reappearance…
What else has Mathew Baynton been in? Younger viewers will know Mathew Baynton for his hilarious appearances in Horrible Histories. His other projects have included Yonderland, Quacks, You Me and the Apocalypse, The Wrong Mans, Will, Spy, and Peep Show. He played pious Bute Crawley in Vanity Fair, and stars as Thomas in the TV comedy Ghosts.
Ian McElhinney plays Prof Ronnie
Who is Prof Ronnie? Few details have been released yet, but we reckon this is a potential love interest for Rose when she begins lecturing at law school.
What else has Ian McElhinney been in? The actor, who was born in Belfast, has enjoyed a prolific screen career across TV and movies. He’s played Barristan Selmy in Game of Thrones, Morgan Monroe in The Fall, and Granda Joe in Derry Girls; other recent roles have included Val-El in Krypton, Father Timothy in Mrs Wilson, and General Dodonna in the Star Wars movie Rogue One.
Ellora Torchia plays Maggie
Who is Maggie? A junior lawyer at Noble Hale Defoe, who often gets landed with the drudge work. She’s previously been a friend and confidante to Hannah.
What else has Ellora Torchia been in? Ellora Torchia’s previous roles have included Sita in Indian Summers, Vishka in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, and Nira in Broadchurch. Since series one of The Split, the actress has also played Connie in the hit horror movie Midsommar and appeared in Our Happy Holiday and Dark Money.
Anna Chancellor plays Melanie Aickman
Who is Melanie Aickman? Richie Hansen’s representative. She has a reputation as a fearsome lawyer who also wears excellent coats.
What else has Anna Chancellor been in? This is a big-name casting! The actress has appeared in a ton of stuff, recently playing Frances Gaunt in Pennyworth, Victoria in Timewasters, Penelope Kittson in Trust, and Rachel Argyll in Ordeal by Innocence. She’s also known for Shetland, new Blood, Pramface, The Hour, and Spooks; a little further back, she played Miss Bingley in the classic Colin Firth 1995 version of Pride and Prejudice, and Henrietta in Four Weddings and a Funeral.
Harriet Webb plays Ali
Who is Ali? Richie Hansen’s personal assistant.
What else has Harriet Webb been in? She played Lisa Marie in Scarborough, as well as Maureen in White Gold; other credits include Waiting, Pure, Defending the Guilty, Plebs, Benidorm, and Edge of Heaven.
Dino Fetscher plays Ian Gibson
Who is Ian Gibson? A Team GB athlete who is pursuing an adoption with his wife Steph.
What else has Dino Fetscher been in? He played Stanley in Humans, Ralph Cousins in Years and Years, and Thomas Beech in Gentleman Jack. Other credits include Cucumber, Paranoid, Banana and Cucumber.
Melissa James plays Steph Gibson
Who is Steph Gibson? A Team GB athlete who is pursuing an adoption with her husband Ian.
What else has Melissa James been in? The actress has been in Dead Pixels, Silent Witness, Doctors, Holby City, and Waffle the Wonderdog. Her theatre credits include Gypsy and The Two Noble Kinsmen.
Siobhán Cullen plays Carrie Scanlon
Who is Carrie Scanlon? Fi and Richie Hansen’s former nanny.
What else has Siobhán Cullen been in? She played Morgan in the TV series Paula, Katie Devlin in YouTube series Origin, and Sister Mary in The Limehouse Golem.
Laurie Kynaston plays Will Parker
Who is Will Parker? A young man, who has just married another young man he met in rehab. Will’s grandfather is a media mogul and the family’s main concern is whether this new husband is after the family inheritance.
What else has Laurie Kynaston been in? The young actor has played Jonah Green in The Feed, Danny Baker in Cradle to Grave, Krissi Morrigan in How to Build a Girl, and Philip in an episode of Derry Girls. He’ll also soon be appearing as a character called Liam in The Trouble with Maggie Cole, and in 2019 he won the Evening Standard theatre award for Best Emerging Talent.
Susannah Wise plays Helen Parker
Who is Helen Parker? Will’s mother. She is determined to get her son’s marriage annulled, by any means necessary.
What else has Susannah Wise been in? Recently she’s appeared in Chewing Gum, Call the Midwife, Collateral, and Press; she was also Linda Callaghan in the first series of Marcella. Movie credits include An Ideal Husband and 1996’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall.
James Bradwell plays Jordan Trang
Who is Jordan Trang? Will’s new husband.
What else has James Bradwell been in? He’s made brief appearances in Back to Life and the TV series Victoria, but most of his work so far has been on the stage.
Marc Bosch plays Matteo Lopez
Who is Matteo Lopez? Liv’s attractive young Spanish teacher.
What else has Marc Bosch been in? He’s not been in many English-language dramas, but credits include De Mannentester, Suspects, The Host, and Gek van Geluk.
Frances Barber plays Misty
Who is Misty? A woman who is preparing to file for divorce from her husband, Jack. They had an affair together, but since they got married things have been trickier; now she is upset and humiliated that the character in his latest novel seems to be based on her.
What else has Frances Barber been in? The actress has had a prolific career across stage and screen. Her credits include Prick Up Your Ears, Dead Fish, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Goal!, Trick or Treat, Medici, Silk, and Psychobitches; she’s also known to Doctor Who fans as the villainous Madame Kovarian.
David Coburn plays Jack
Who is Jack? A novelist and a Frenchman, who is currently married to Misty.
What else has David Coburn been in? He’s the voice of Captain Planet, and through the year’s he has appeared in shows including The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Star Trek: The Next Generation, and Versailles.
Elizabeth Roberts plays Liv
Who is Liv? Hannah and Nathan’s daughter, who is now 17 years old.
What else has Elizabeth Roberts been in? The young actress appeared in an episode of Casualty in 2014, and also has several theatre credits to her name.
Toby Oliver plays Vinnie Stern
Who is Vinnie Stern? Hannah and Nathan’s son.
What else has Toby Oliver been in? He recently played Hayden in Dark Money, starring alongside Babou Ceesay and Jill Halfpenny. Toby Oliver also played “Boy Roach” in the Black Mirror episode Men Against Fire.