The Radio Times logo

Meet the cast of Close to the Enemy

Everything you need to know about the cast and characters of the BBC's new post-war drama

Published: Friday, 19th May 2017 at 9:00 am

Bafta-winning writer and director Stephen Poliakoff (Dancing on the Edge, Glorious 39, Gideon's Daughter) is back on the BBC with post-war Nazi-hunting drama Close to the enemy.


This seven-part spy thriller explores the German scientists and industrialists Britain seized after the Second World War – regardless of their past.

Here’s your guide to all the cast and characters.

Jim Sturgess - Callum Ferguson

He’s the British intelligence officer who is at the centre of the story. He is given the task of looking after a very important German scientist and overcoming his implacable hostility towards working with the British.

On the surface Callum is an able and decisive officer but underneath he is more fragile. He has experienced some of the worst fighting after the D-Day landings in Normandy and the war has scarred him. Nevertheless he is very committed to his task because he is fuelled by a sense of anger over how unprepared the British were when the war broke out.

He is convinced we must never be caught out like that again. This was a feeling shared by many people, a rage at how so much destruction had been allowed to happen.

But there is also a more sensitive side to Callum; he is an amateur musician and dreams of becoming a movie composer. As the story progresses, the Connington Hotel becomes an irresistible place for him, full of possibilities both for romance and for him to realise his ambitions, while also completing his secret mission.

Where do I recognise him from?

He played opposite Anne Hathaway in One Day, and also starred in the lead role in 21, as well as featuring in Crossing Over with Harrison Ford.

 Freddie Highmore – Victor Ferguson

Callum’s brother, a highly strung and very volatile young man. Like Callum he has experienced some intense combat during the war and now, as with so many returning servicemen, he is trying to cope with these memories and to start a new life.

In 1946 the medical profession’s approach to post-traumatic stress disorder was much more primitive than it is now, and many servicemen had to deal with it on their own. Victor has a very idiosyncratic method of getting through the day, which can prove alarming even to those closest to him.

The brothers are alone in the world as both their parents are dead, and Callum feels protective towards Victor. But as the story evolves their relationship undergoes a dramatic shift.

Where do I recognise him from?

He was Charlie in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory all those years ago – but now he’s best known for playing Norman Bates in Bates Motel.

Charlotte Riley – Rachel Lombard

Rachel is an American in London whose husband died suddenly and left her a fortune. She is remarried to Alex (Sebastian Armesto), Callum’s best friend from before the war.

Alex spent almost the whole war in Washington and is very conscious of how people regard this. Those British citizens who sat out the war in the US, and therefore escaped the terrors of the Blitz, often found themselves ostracised when they returned, or subjected to savage criticism, as the writers Christopher Isherwood and WH Auden discovered.

Meanwhile, Rachel’s stylish energy is desperately seeking an outlet and this leads her to create fashion shows and music evenings at the Connington, which inevitably brings her into contact with Callum.

Where do I recognise her from? 

Riley was May Carleton in Peaky Blinders, and she was in Wuthering Heights where she met her husband Tom Hardy. She also starred in Edge of Tomorrow.

Phoebe Fox – Kathy Griffiths 

She’s the feisty, highly committed Nazi hunter who is pitted against Callum in the story.

Although the most senior Nazis were standing trial in Nuremberg, thousands of others were escaping justice. This was mainly due to the chaotic processing of prisoners in Germany, which was often carried out by young officers who were not concerned about rooting out war criminals and let many of these suspects go free.

What’s more, the British were bringing people over from Germany, seemingly totally unbothered if they were guilty of war crimes.

Kathy knows military intelligence are using the Connington Hotel, and she believes there is vital information stored there that could help in her search for those that have perpetrated these crimes. She is determined to get into their secret office, and her dogged persistence yields unexpected results.

Where do I recognise her from?

She is known for The Woman in Black 2: Angel of Death, Eye in the Sky and Life in Squares. Fox also starred in One Day with Jim Sturgess, but in the small role of “Nightclub Girl”.

Alfie Allen – Ringwood

Ringwood is the intelligence officer running the secret operation in the hotel’s attic. During the war the British were pioneers in bugging people’s rooms, especially captured German officers, and some vital information was gathered this way.

The technology was regarded as so crucial it was kept secret for years. Ringwood and his staff are now employing the same techniques at the Connington, monitoring people of interest, particularly Dieter, the German scientist.

“This is a great opportunity to play a nicely conflicted character. Ringwood has been on the front line in the war, and now suddenly he has to treat this Nazi scientist like a rock star. He is not happy about that at all. He has to fake being nice to Dieter’s face, but behind the scenes he is very unhappy indeed.” – Allen

Where do I recognise him from?

He’s Lily Allen’s younger brother… and he’s best known for playing Theon Greyjoy in Game of Thrones, and also appeared in Atonement and John Wick.

Alfred Molina – Harold Lindsay-Jones

Harold is a mysterious Foreign Office official who seems to delight in spending time at the Connington and probing into Callum’s world. He has an ulterior motive, which Callum eventually discovers.

The story that Harold shares with Callum, and which he wants him to pursue further, revolves around a secret at the heart of government and is based on true events. The audience is in the same position as Callum in regard to Harold – can he be trusted? Is his offer of friendship genuine?

“Harold has a dark and tragic side. He goes through the story almost like a ghost. He is constantly popping up in other people’s lives, either as a help or a hindrance. You soon realise he has the most enormous tragic past. Other characters refer to him as a “man of mystery” … the war has left him in a place where he exists in a very different world and he feels completely out of place. His story is about rationalising and coming to terms with that.” – Molina

Where do I recognise him from?

Molina has had a long and prolific career and is best known for his roles in Raiders of the Lost Ark, Boogie Nights, Chocolat, Spider-Man 2, The Da Vinci Code, and An Education.

Angela Bassett – Eva

Eva is an American singer who rules over the basement ballroom. She is in Britain because she can’t get work in the US – her left-wing views and refusal to play to segregated audiences has made her lose bookings there.

The character of Eva is inspired by the singer Hazel Scott, who took a celebrated stand against segregation, and had to move to Europe in the 1950s. Eva is brutally honest to people, but she is also ultimately an optimist.

“She invades the space of the buttoned up, stodgy people upstairs with her boldness, her brassiness, her beauty and her sensuality. They have never seen anyone like her before! She puts me in mind of Josephine Baker, who went to Europe, turned it on its head and generally enlivened the joint!” – Bassett 

Where do I recognise her from?

She’s Ana Spanikopita in BoJack Horseman and voiced Michelle Obama in The Simpsons – but Bassett is best known for her portrayal of Tina Turner in the biopic What's Love Got to Do with It.

Robert Glenister – Brigadier Wainwright

He’s a military man in charge of getting scientific geniuses out of Germany before the Americans and Russians get to them.

“It was a race amongst the allies to get the most acute scientific minds to come over to their specific countries and divulge their secrets. He is quite a clever strategist because he understands that if they don’t get this information from the allies, the military secrets, then the possibility for a third world war remains very palpable. In a modern comparison, he’s sort of M to Jim Sturgess’ Bond if you like.” - Glenister

Where do I recognise him from?

Glenister is perhaps best known as con-man Ash "Three Socks" Morgan in Hustle, but most recently he appeared in the ITV drama Paranoid. He has also had a regular part in Law and Order: UK.

Lindsay Duncan – Frau Bellinghausen

Frau Bellinghausen makes her entrance halfway through the story. She is the owner of a famous perfume brand and Callum is set the task of getting her to reveal its secret formula. In 1946 even something as seemingly trivial as the ingredients of perfume was of interest to the British authorities.

They wanted to gain a commercial advantage over other countries in any way they could. However, cracking the formula turns out to be a challenge for Callum because Frau Bellinghausen, initially seems a terrifying personality. An Englishwoman who has lived her whole adult life in Germany, she has witnessed the rise of the Nazis first hand.

“She attacks in order to defend and makes demands to keep her status high… She’s carrying a lot of guilt and sorrow. She is heartbroken about what she’s left behind and what she finds in England. She is horrified by the devastation. At first she seems indomitable. But many things are going on within her.” - Duncan

Where do I recognise her from? 


Duncan has had an incredibly varied career – from appearing in About Time, Black Mirror and Sherlock to roles in The Honourable Woman and Starter for 10. She is also played Helen Kingsleigh in Alice in Wonderland.


Sponsored content