The last episode of the BBC’s adaptation of The Pursuit of Love airs tonight (Sunday 23rd May) – though all three episodes are currently available to watch on BBC iPlayer – and we can’t wait to see what Fanny and Linda get up to for the big finale.
Emily Mortimer’s take on Nancy Mitford’s classic novel has received a mixed reaction from viewers but seems to be a hit among critics, with our own The Pursuit of Love review giving the friendship drama four stars.
We can all probably agree that the stellar cast is one of the story’s most compelling elements. Lily James and Emily Beecham lead the cast as the wild and adventurous Linda Radlett and the more reserved and worry-prone Fanny Logan, but big names like Dominic West and Fleabag’s “hot priest” Andrew Scott also feature.
Want to know who’s who? Read on to find out about The Pursuit of Love’s characters and who plays them.
Lily James plays Linda Radlett
Who is Linda Radlett? When the story starts, Linda Radlett is 17-years old. She is living an isolated life with her family, including her father, who thinks that education is not for girls. She is desperate for her life to begin – and above all, she wants to fall in love. Through the eyes of her cousin Fanny, we follow her adventures through her 20s and into her early 30s. Lily James says, “She is a wonderful character, free-spirited, passionate, impulsive, fiery, frustrating, selfish and a brilliant human being… Linda really follows her heart and gut.”
What else has Lily James been in? A handful of her biggest roles have included Young Donna in Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, Cinderella in (you guessed it) Cinderella, Elizabeth Bennet in Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Lady Rose MacClare in Downton Abbey, and Debora in Baby Driver. Having started out in 2010 on the children’s TV series Just William, she went on to star as Poppy in Secret Diary of a Call Girl – and has since been in TV shows and movies including War & Peace, Darkest Hour, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Rebecca, Rare Beasts, Yesterday and The Dig.
Emily Beecham plays Fanny Logan
Who is Fanny Logan? Our narrator, who guides us through the story of her favourite cousin, Linda Radlett. Academic, educated Fanny is quieter and more sensible than Linda, but Linda can push her to let her guard down a bit. Since being abandoned by her parents (and specifically by her mother, “The Bolter”), Fanny has been brought up by her mother’s sister, Aunt Emily and she spends each Christmas with the Radletts.
What else has Emily Beecham been in? She starred as Dierdre in Hail, Caesar!, played the lead in 2017 movie Daphne, and starred in 2019’s Little Joe – for which she won the Best Actress Award at Cannes Film Festival. You may also have seen her in American TV series Into the Badlands, or in the BBC’s The Village.
Dominic West plays Uncle Matthew
Who is Uncle Matthew? Properly known as “Lord Alconleigh”, he is Linda’s father, and Fanny Logan’s detested uncle. As Dominic West puts it, “Uncle Matthew is a legendary figure in the Mitford books, he was the father figure based on Nancy Mitford’s father. He was an old school countryman. Uncle Matthew hunts his children and is quite a frightening patriarchal figure.” Uncle Matthew fought in the First World War, and hates Germans with a passion – though he is also suspicious of foreigners in general. He does not believe that girls should be educated.
What else has Dominic West been in? Some of West’s best-known roles include Detective James “Jimmy” McNulty in The Wire, Hector Madden in The Hour, Noah Solloway in The Affair and Jean Valjean in the BBC adaptation of Les Misérables. He has also starred in Stateless, Brassic, Appropriate Adult, Colette, Testament of Youth, Chicago, Tomb Raider, Johnny English Reborn and Punisher: War Zone. And there are even bigger roles in the pipeline: he’ll star as Prince Charles in the final two seasons of The Crown, and is set to appear in Downton Abbey 2 and SAS: Rogue Heroes.
Andrew Scott plays Lord Merlin
Who is Lord Merlin? The Radletts’ libertine neighbour. Uncle Matthew does not like him one bit, but Linda is delighted by him. Andrew Scott says, “Lord Merlin is a funny, inspiring, brave character. He’s audacious and free with his attitude towards love, life and sex and art.”
What else has Andrew Scott been in? In recent years, he’s starred as John Parry in His Dark Materials, as The Priest in Fleabag, and as Moriarty in Sherlock (for which he won a BAFTA). Other credits include Hamlet, King Lear, 1917, School of Roars, Modern Love, Pride, Victor Frankenstein and upcoming TV drama Ripley. He is also a prolific, Olivier Award-winning stage actor.
Emily Mortimer plays Fanny’s mother, The Bolter
Who is The Bolter? Linda’s mother, who is nicknamed “The Bolter” because she bolts from commitment – to men, and to her daughter. She left Fanny to be raised by Aunt Emily, but has reappeared sporadically throughout the years, each time with a new man on her arm.
What else has Emily Mortimer been in? Emily Mortimer is more commonly seen on the big screen, with credits including Mary Poppins Returns, Transsiberian, The Sense of an Ending, The Pink Panther, Lars and the Real Girl, Shutter Island, Match Point, and Relic. On the small screen, she’s starred in Aaron Sorkin’s The Newsroom, Doll & Em and Don’t Look Deeper.
Dolly Wells plays Aunt Sadie
Who is Aunt Sadie? Linda’s mother and Matthew’s wife. They have a large family together, and she is quite ineffectual – generally letting Matthew take the lead with parenting decisions.
What else has Dolly Wells been in? She played Sister Agatha in the recent BBC adaptation of Dracula, and was Mrs Featherstone in the movie Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Other credits include Spy, Some Girls, Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy and Star Stories. She also co-wrote and co-starred in Doll & Em, with the “Em” being Emily Mortimer – and now they’re working together again on The Pursuit of Love. What a reunion!
Annabel Mullion plays Aunt Emily
Who is Aunt Emily? When “The Bolter” left her young daughter Fanny behind, it was Aunt Emily who stepped in and raised her. But now, with Fanny almost grown up, she’s planning her own future.
What else has Annabel Mullion been in? In recent years she’s had roles in Victoria, Patrick Melrose and Women on the Verge – and plenty of theatre productions.
John Heffernan plays Davey
Who is Davey? Aunt Emily’s new man, which makes him Fanny’s sort-of stepfather. They get along pretty well.
What else has John Heffernan been in? John Heffernan’s credits include The Loch, Dickensian, Collateral, Brexit: The Uncivil War, The Crown (in which he memorably played Lord Altrincham), Luther, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, Ripper Street and Dracula.
Shazad Latif plays Alfred Winchman
Who is Alfred Winchman? Fanny’s husband, who is a young don at Oxford. She describes him as a dear and kind man, but he is also the sort of person to fuss about putting the wrong spoon in the wrong jam jar. He makes sure to fold his trousers before sex. (In the book, his surname is “Wincham”.)
What else has Shazad Latif been in? Notable roles have included Tariq Masood in Spooks, Clem Fandango in Toast of London, the voice of Kylan in The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance and Ash Tyler in Star Trek: Discovery. He was Dr Henry Jekyll in Penny Dreadful, and has also been in Ordinary Lies, My Mad Fat Diary, Departure and The Commuter.
Assaad Bouab plays Fabrice De Sauveterre
Who is Fabrice De Sauveterre? A wealthy French Duke, who Linda meets at a train station in Paris.
What else has Assaad Bouab been in? You’re most likely to have seen him playing Hicham Hanowski in Call My Agent!, the hit French drama on Netflix – or as Qamar Maloof in Messiah, also on Netflix. His other titles include Braquo, Cannabis, Ghoul, Kabul Kitchen, Peaky Blinders (as Henri the Barman) and The Bay of Silence.
Freddie Fox plays Tony Kroesig
Who is Tony Kroesig? Linda’s first husband. When she meets him, he’s a student at Oxford and his father is a wealthy banker. Tony follows in his footsteps – also becoming a Tory MP.
What else has Freddie Fox been in? He was Mark Thatcher in The Crown, Jeremy Bamber in White House Farm, Wilbur Strauss in (criminally underrated) Victorian crime drama Year of the Rabbit, Freddie Baxter in Cucumber and Banana, and Edward Wannop in Parade’s End. Voice acting work includes Dennis & Gnasher (in which he voices Dennis) and Watership Down. Movie credits include The Three Musketeers, Black 47 and Victor Frankenstein. Oh, and he is the younger sister of Silent Witness actor Emilia Fox – and actor-turned-political-agitator Laurence Fox is his cousin.
James Frecheville plays Christian Talbot
Who is Christian Talbot? An ardent Communist, who first appears in episode two.
What else has James Frecheville been in? The Australian actor starred in the movie Animal Kingdom, playing Joshua “J” Cody. He played Nick Dean in the TV series Requiem, Feeney in Black 47 and Buster in New Girl. Further credits include Transparent, Peaky Blinders and The Drop.
Kitty Archer plays Lavender Davis
Who is Lavender Davis? A cousin of the Radletts, who Linda is compelled to visit every now and then. She and Fanny find Lavender deathly boring. Lavender later becomes a very dedicated Communist, devoted to helping refugees from the Spanish Civil War.
What else has Kitty Archer been in? She played Petra Bevan in an episode of Call the Midwife in 2020.
Will Keen plays Sir Leicester Kroesig
Who is Sir Leicester Kroesig? Tony’s father, also a right-wing banker. He does not approve of Linda.
What else has Will Keen been in? Recently we’ve seen him as Father (then Cardinal) MacPail in His Dark Materials, starring alongside his daughter Daphne Keen (who plays Lyra). You may also recognise him from The Crown, in which he played Michael Adeane, or from Wolf Hall (as Thomas Cranmer).
Martha West plays Jassy Radlett
Who is Jassy Radlett? One of Linda’s sisters. She has been collecting “running away money” since childhood.
What else has Martha West been in? This is one of her first screen roles, though she did play Annie Darwin in the 2009 movie Creation.
Sam Nivola plays Matt Radlett
Who is Matt Radlett? One of Linda’s younger brothers.
What else has Sam Nivola been in? If Matt Radlett bears a strong resemblance to his aunt The Bolter, that would be because Sam is actually Emily Mortimer’s son. He previously appeared in his mother’s 2013 series, Doll & Em.
Beattie Edmondson plays Louisa Radlett
Who is Louisa Radlett? Linda’s older sister, who is domestic, dependable and uninterested in romance.
What else has Beattie Edmondson been in? Her first big role was in the TV series The Wright Way. Since then, she’s been in Josh, Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie, Masters of Love, Upstart Crow, and Fresh Meat. She’s also a comedian, with the sketch group Birthday Girls. Oh, and her parents are comedy legends Ade Edmondson and Jennifer Saunders.
The Pursuit of Love continues on Sunday 16th May 2021 at 9pm on BBC One. The three-part drama is also be available as a boxset on BBC iPlayer. Looking for something else to watch? Take a look at our Drama coverage, or check out our TV Guide.