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Meet the cast of Summer of Rockets

Toby Stephens, Keeley Hawes and Timothy Spall are among the cast for BBC2's Cold War drama

Published: Tuesday, 25th June 2019 at 7:02 pm

Summer of Rockets, BBC2's semi-autobiographical Cold War drama from Stephen Poliakoff, has a cast full of familiar faces – including Toby Stephens, Keeley Hawes and Timothy Spall.


Here's everything you need to know about the cast of Summer of Rockets.

Toby Stephens plays Samuel Petrukhin

Summer of Rockets, BBC Pictures
Toby Stephens plays Samuel Petrukhin

Who is Samuel Petrukhin? A Russian Jewish émigré, inventor Samuel Petrukhin owns a factory that manufactures hearing aids, and he caters to various high profile clients, including former Prime Minister Winston Churchill. He has recently invented the "bleeper" — or, as his colleague Courtney refers to it, the pager — but he's struggling to find buyers, as members of the British aristocracy dislike the idea of being summoned like house servants.

Samuel has high aspirations for his two children, sending his daughter Hannah to debutante classes and his young son Sasha to boarding school. He's also keen to keep up the appearance of wealth and social position, posting Sasha a hand-held radio, and also buying a large television set for the home. A chance encounter with the wealthy Shaws leads to a business opportunity for Samuel, after he's invited to their home to fit an elderly aunt with a hearing aid.

Where have I seen Toby Stephens before? Toby Stephens recently played John Robinson, one of the leading roles in Netflix's Lost in Space. His career has spanned stage and screen; he has previously played a Bond villain in Die Another Day, Mr Rochester in the BBC series Jane Eyre, and more recently starred in Vexed, Black Sails, and the BBC's Agatha Christie adaptation And Then There Were None.

Keeley Hawes plays Kathleen Shaw

Keeley Hawes plays Kathleen Shaw

Who is Kathleen Shaw? The enigmatic Kathleen is a member of the British aristocracy, and is married to Richard Shaw, a war hero and prominent Conservative MP. After the Petrukhins lose sight of their young son at a high profile social gathering, it's Kathleen who finds Sasha and strikes up a conversation with his parents. Months later, the two families reconnect and Kathleen invites the Petrukhins to her home for lunch with her husband — but it's clear that beneath their seemingly perfect marriage, the Shaws are hiding something.

Where have I seen Keeley Hawes before? Hawes has recently starred in a string of high profile television roles, playing matriarch Louisa in The Durrells, Home Secretary Julia Montague in BBC1's hit drama Bodyguard, and as Dorothy Wick in Mrs Wilson. She received widespread acclaim for her role as Lindsay Denton in Line of Duty, and played Alex Drake in the Life on Mars spin-off Ashes to Ashes.

Linus Roache plays Richard Shaw MP

Linus Roache plays Richard Shaw MP

Who is Richard Shaw? A distinguished war hero and a Conversative MP, Richard Shaw is a charming politician with a talent for giving stirring speeches. However, in his home life Richard seems to be battling private demons.

When he unexpectedly disappears during a party speech, his wife Kathleen is forced to make excuses for him, causing a seeming rift between them.

Where have I seen Linus Roache before? Roache previously starred in Homeland as David Wellington, and is perhaps best known for playing Michael Cutter in US series Law & Order. He's also starred in Batman Begins, Coronation Street, and in the US series RFK, for which Roache was nominated for a Golden Globe for his performance as Robert F. Kennedy.

Mark Bonnar plays Field

Mark Bonnar (left) plays Field

Who is Field? A mysterious figure who shows an interest in Samuel Petrukhin's burgeoning relationship with the aristocratic Shaws.

Where have I seen Mark Bonnar before? Bonnar has appeared in Catastrophe as Chris, in Humans as Neil and in ITV's crime drama series Unforgotten as Colin Osborne. He plays Duncan Hunter in the long-running series Shetland and has previously starred in Line of Duty, Grantchester, Psychoville and Vera.

Timothy Spall plays Lord Arthur Wallington

Timothy Spall plays Lord Arthur Wallington
Timothy Spall plays Lord Arthur Wallington

Who is Lord Arthur Wallington? A prominent figure in the upper echelons of British politics and diplomacy, Lord Arthur Wallington is a close friend of the Shaws and joins them for lunch when the Petrukhins visit.

Where have I seen Timothy Spall before? Timothy Spall is known for various roles in films including Mr Turner, The King's Speech, and Finding Your Feet.

He played Wormtail in the Harry Potter film franchise, and has also appeared in Blandings and A Series of Unfortunate Events.

Lucy Cohu plays Miriam

Lucy Cohu plays Miriam

Who is Miriam? Miriam Petrukhin was born into aristocracy, but married "below her station" after falling in love with the inventor Samuel Petrukhin. She's mother to Hannah and Sasha.

Where have I seen Lucy Cohu before? Known for playing Madame Maigret alongside Rowan Atkinson in the Maigret TV films, Cohu has previously starred in various television shows including Broadchurch, Ripper Street, Silent Witness, Gosford Park and Torchwood.

Gary Beadle plays Courtney

Gary Beadle plays Courtney in Summer of Rockets
Gary Beadle plays Courtney

Who is Courtney? Samuel's right-hand man, Courtney is far firmer than Samuel when it comes to demanding their high-profile clients pay up. He's worried about the state of the business, and encourages Samuel to let go of his chauffeur-driven car in order to save on expenses — much to Samuel's chagrin.

Where have I seen Gary Beadle before? Beadle is known for playing Archdeacon Gabriel Atubo in Grantchester, and for starring in In the Heart of the Sea, Silent Witness and The Interceptor.

Lily Sacofsky plays Hannah

Lily Sacofsky plays Hannah in Summer of Rockets

Who is Hannah? Hannah is Samuel Petrukhin's daughter. She resents having to attend debutante classes, believing it to be ridiculous for young women to receive lessons in walking, talking, and curtseying. She also has a morbid fear of nuclear war.

Where have I seen Lily Sacofsky before? This is Sacofsky's second onscreen role, her first being the part of Laura Fraser in Bancroft alongside Sarah Parish.

Toby Woolf plays Sasha

Toby Woolf plays Sasha in Summer of Rockets

Who is Sasha? The young son of the inventor Samuel Petrukhin, Sasha loves spending time with animals and boasting about his father's inventions. He's sent to boarding school during episode one.

Where have I seen Toby Woolf before? Woolf has previously appeared in The Last Post and Curfew, and is set to star in Billie Piper's upcoming film Rare Beasts.

Rose Ayling-Ellis plays Esther

Rose Ayling-Ellis plays Esther in Summer of Rockets

Who is Esther? A worker at the Petrukhin factory. Esther helps manufacture the hearing aids, and starts to become friends with her boss's daughter Hannah.

Where have I seen Rose Ayling-Ellis before? The young actress has popped up in an episode of Casualty, and has also appeared in a series of short films including The Quiet Ones and Reverberations. Like her character, she is deaf and fluent in sign language.

Peter Firth plays Tezler

Peter Firth plays Tezler in Summer of Rockets

Who is Tezler? A teacher at Sasha's strict new boarding school.

Where have I seen Peter Firth before? Since his Oscar-nominated performance as Alan Strang in 1977's Equus, Peter Firth has become a familiar face on our screens, recently starring as Michael in Cheat, the Duke of Cumberland in Victoria, and Jacob Marley in Dickensian. You may know him as Sir Harry Pearce from the classic TV show Spooks.

Claire Bloom plays Aunt Mary

Claire Bloom plays Aunt Mary in Summer of Rockets

Who is Aunt Mary? Kathleen Shaw's aunt, who is losing her hearing. Kathleen (Keeley Hawes) persuades her to try out one of Samuel Petrukhin's hearing aids.

Where have I seen Claire Bloom before? Now 88, Claire Bloom has had an extraordinary career – after being discovered by Charlie Chaplin in the 1950s. She starred alongside Chaplin in the film Limelight and now has more than 120 screen credits to her name, including The King's Speech (as Queen Mary), Doctor Who (as "The Woman"), and Clash of the Titans.

Matthew James Thomas plays Nicolas Halliday

Matthew James Thomas plays Nicolas Halliday in Summer of Rockets

Who is Nicolas Halliday? Nicolas initially comes into the story as Hannah's etiquette teacher, but the two quickly form a friendship and continue to meet up once classes are over. Is there potential for something more?

Where have I seen Matthew James Thomas before? Early credits include About a Boy, Billy Elliot, and Wonderful You. More recently, you may have seen him on screen in Britannia High, Believe, The Lost Prince, or The Devil You Know. He is also a Broadway star.

Jordan Coulson plays Kevin

Jordan Coulson plays Kevin in Summer of Rockets

Who is Kevin? Esther's boyfriend. He is madly in love with her.

Where have I seen Jordan Coulson before? Recent roles have included Lukasz in Informer, Craig in Kiri, Robbie in Lovesick, and Steve in Cradle to Grave.

Fode Simbo plays Joel

Fode Simbo plays Joel in Summer of Rockets

Who is Joel? Kevin's best friend, who has a crush on Hannah.

Where have I seen Fode Simbo before? The young actor has previously appeared in the TV series Electric Dreams and the 2017 BBC adaptation of Little Women.

Tony Maudsley plays Spearman

Tony Maudsley plays Spearman in Summer of Rockets

Who is Spearman? A private investigator hired by Kathleen Shaw and her husband.

Where have I seen Tony Maudsley before? Tony Maudsley starred as Kenneth Du Beke in Benidorm for seven years. You may also recognise him as Graham Pleck from The Job Lot, or Yo Ho Ho Barman from The Bad Education Movie, or as Grawp from Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix – although he looked quite different (and much larger) in that role.

Leo Staar plays Denning

Leo Starr plays Denning in Summer of Rockets

Who is Denning? Field's secret service sidekick.

Where have I seen Leo Staar before? The actor starred as Alec Jesmond in Call the Midwife, and has played Inspector LaPointe in the Maigret TV movies since 2015.

Will Payne plays Paul Ledbury

Will Payne plays Paul Ledbury in Summer of Rockets

Who is Paul Ledbury? An old friend of Anthony Shaw. He is hostile and evasive as Kathleen Shaw continues to beg him for information.

Where have I seen Will Payne before? You are most likely to recognise him as Ferdinand from Humans, or as Tony Travers from Mr Selfridge.


Summer of Rockets airs on Wednesdays at 9pm on BBC2 and is also available on BBC iPlayer


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