Set in Edwardian England, Howards End features three very different families from vastly different social classes interacting and meeting through chance encounters. The Basts, Schlegels and Wilcoxes all find their lives intertwined in this BBC period drama – but who is playing them?
Meet the cast of EM Forster’s Edwardian tale brought to life…
Margaret Schlegel (Hayley Atwell)
Margaret Schlegel – an intelligent, idealistic woman ahead of her time – finds herself in an unlikely relationship with her late friend’s widower, Henry Wilcox
Many fans will recognise her from her recurring role as Peggy Carter in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe, but Hayley Atwell has quite the filmography under her belt. She’s popped up in many period dramas over the years including The Duchess, The Pillars of the Earth, Any Human Heart, Mansfield Park and Brideshead Revisited. Her first appearance on the big screen was playing Angela Stark in Woody Allen’s 2007 film Cassandra’s Dream and since then she’s starred on the West End in A View from the Bridge and played Cinderella’s mother in the Disney live-action remake.
You can also catch her in the Disney live-action Winnie the Pooh film, Christopher Robin, where she stars alongside Ewan McGregor.
Henry Wilcox (Matthew Macfadyen)
The patriarch of the Wilcox family and owner of Howards End, Henry Wilcox is a conservative man. Yet he finds his traditional views of class and gender challenged when his feelings start to grow for the younger, highly opinionated Margaret Schlegel.
Matthew Macfadyen is certainly no stranger to the period drama scene having starred in Pride & Prejudice, Anna Karenina and Wuthering Heights, and – of course – Ripper Street. But aside from his turn in a frock coat, he’s also well known for his role as Tom Quinn in the BBC’s television drama series Spooks and has appeared as Daniel in the Frank Oz comedy Death at a Funeral. And it’s not the first time Macfadyen has worked with co-star Hayley Atwell – the two have previously collaborated on The Pillars of the Earth and Any Human Heart.
Helen Schlegel (Philippa Coulthard)
The younger of the two Schlegel sisters, Helen is a youthful and passionate woman with a romantic disposition and less compromising views on the world than her older sister Margaret. Although she finds herself in for a change in direction when she meets the young Leonard Bast in a chance encounter at a classical music concert.
Doctor Who fans may recognise Philippa Coulthard from the less successful spin-off series K9, where she played the role of young Jorjie Turner. Since then she’s starred in Secrets & Lies, supernatural horror Annabelle: Creation, picked up the lead role in TV series Lightning Point and new crime drama Gone.
Leonard Bast (Joseph Quinn)
Leonard Bast is a young impoverished fellow with the heart of a poet and a love for the arts and educated culture. He is set on a path intent to rise beyond his working-class background and begin a life far above his current social station
He may be best known for his role as Arthur Havisham in the TV series Dickensian but Joseph Quinn has also had a fleeting role in fiery Game of Thrones episode The Spoils of War.
Aunt Juley (Tracey Ullman)
As aunt to the Schlegel siblings, Aunt Juley feels obliged to curb most of their more impulsive decisions and since the death of their parents, guide them through their rather untraditional lifestyles. But her interferences, no matter how well-intentioned, always seem to have a hint of disaster.
Tracey Ullman has been a star of both the big and little screen over the years. As a multi-award-winning television, stage and film actress she’s been in everything from the Corpse Bride to Into the Woods to How I Met Your Mother. She’s starred in her own television series The Tracey Ullman Show, Tracey Takes On and her own TV movie Tracey Ullman: A Class Act. More recently you’ll have seen her in the TV series Girls and in her BBC sketch show Tracey Breaks the News. The list goes on and on and on…
Mrs Wilcox (Julia Ormond)
As the true powerhouse behind the Wilcox family, Ruth, like her husband, has more traditional views of the way the world should work. But despite these opinions and their other differences, she and Margaret form an unlikely friendship and become increasingly close in Mr Wilcox’s absence.
Julia Ormond’s career may span decades but it was in the 90s that she truly made a name for herself, starring in films like Legends of the Fall, First Knight and Sabrina. Since then she has never left our screens having appeared in My Week with Marilyn, Mad Men, Witches of East End, Incorporated and comedy Ladies in Black.
Tibby Schlegel (Alex Lawther)
Having been raised by his older sister after his parent’s death, Tibby has been slightly over-indulged in his teenage-hood. He’s a bit of a hypochondriac and slightly self-absorbed but as a dedicated academic he is still finding his path in life whilst focused on his studies at Oxford.
Alex Lawther’s career got off to a flying start when his role as the young Alan Turing in the Imitation Game won him the London Film Critics’ Circle Award for Young British Performer of the Year. He’s since appeared in Goodbye Christopher Robin and landed a lead role in TV series The End of the F***king World. You might even recognise him as the tormented, dark teenager Kenny from the Black Mirror episode Shut Up and Dance.
Jacky Bast (Rosalind Eleazar)
Jacky Bast comes from a dark and tumultuous past having been orphaned, abandoned and taken advantage of at a young age. Because of her background she finds herself woefully uneducated and shut out from the world her fiancé and eventual husband is increasingly involved in.
Aside from some smaller roles in mini-series National Treasure and ITV2’s Harlots, Rosalind Eleazar appeared in BBC1 thriller Rellik, has also shown up in Zadie Smith drama NW and starred in one episode of Holby City.
Paul Wilcox (Jonah Hauer-King)
The youngest son of the Wilcox family, Paul is a handsome, ambitious young man who instantly regrets his rushed decision to become engaged to Helen Schlegel, causing quite the initial stir between the two families
New to the scene, Jonah Hauer-King has only starred in a handful of films – he’s probably best known for his roles in Blue, The Last Photograph and Regardez – although will be adding appearances in Little Women, Ashes in the Snow and A Dog’s Way Home.
Evie Wilcox (Bessie Carter)
Mostly concerned with her own affairs, the mysterious Evie Wilcox prefers to stay out of family dramas
As the daughter of Imelda Staunton and Jim Carter, it’s safe to say that a talent for acting runs in Bessie Carter’s blood. She may only have a handful of credits to her name – including a role in Doc Martin, Cranford and the 2012 cinematic version of Les Miserables – but the 22-year-old is certainly one to watch in the future.
Charles Wilcox (Joe Bannister)
The elder of the Wilcox siblings, Charles – like his father – holds rather strong opinions of current society. Later, these views lead to a dark encounter with the lower class Leonard Bast that will change both of their lives forever
Joe Bannister landed his first big role in the National Theatre Live production of Shakespeare’s As You Like it. On screen, he’s appeared in Endeavour, Year Friends and history-type horror The Isle.
Percy Cahill (Miles Jupp)
Percy Cahill is the fiancé of Evie Wilcox
Jupp is best known for his career as a comedian, having been a series regular on panel shows like Have I Got News for You and Mock the Week. As an actor, he has appeared in Bad Move, Rev and The Thick of It, to name a few. Jupp has also hosted The News Quiz on Radio 4 since 2015.
The final two episodes of Howards End air on Sunday 28th March 2021 from 9/8c on PBS Masterpiece in the US
Read on to find out where BBC drama Howards End was filmed, why Matthew Macfadyen almost turned down Howards End, and why Manchester by the Sea screenwriter Kenneth Lonergan turned his hand to Howards End.