The Trouble with Maggie Cole has a truly bumper cast. This ensemble piece stars Dawn French, Mark Heap and Julie Hesmondhalgh alongside a whole load of familiar faces.
Here are all the characters you need to meet – and the actors who play them…
Dawn French plays Maggie Cole
Who is Maggie Cole? The definition of a village gossip. As ITV puts it, “Thurlbury village doesn’t have a mayor, but that’s never stopped Maggie Cole from acting like one. It’s fortunate that she’s blessed with a warm personality and good humour because otherwise her penchant for gossip and insistence on involving herself in the lives of everyone else in the village *might* start coming across as over-bearing! Maggie runs a heritage gift-shop at Thurlbury Keep, although she prefers to refer to her occupation as ‘local historian’.” Maggie has a husband, a grown-up son and a daughter-in-law.
What else has Dawn French been in? She is best-known for starring in and writing for BBC sketch comedy show French and Saunders, and for her sitcom The Vicar of Dibley. The actress has also appeared in Delicious (as Gina Benelli), The Wrong Mans, Lark Rise to Candleford, and Psychoville, as well as playing the Fat Lady in the Harry Potter movies. For all of that, she’s also won a BAFTA fellowship and racked up seven BAFTA nominations.
Mark Heap plays Peter Cole
Who is Peter Cole? Maggie’s husband, and the headmaster of the local school. He is a year away from retirement and can’t wait. “Peter craves nothing more than a quiet, peaceful existence, free of stress, drama and problems – something that isn’t easy to come by when you’re married to someone who seems to attract all those things like a magnet,” ITV says. “Peter has a dry wit and self-depreciating sense of humour, he frequently comes across as a lot more ‘long-suffering’ than he might appear – the truth is that he wouldn’t change who his beloved wife is for the world, no matter how much drama she brings in her wake!”
What else has Mark Heap been in? He’s starred as Robert Greene in Upstart Crow, Jim in Friday Night Dinner, and Malcolm in Benidorm. A little further back, he starred in Green Wing (as Dr Alan Statham), Brass Eye, Spaced, Love Soup, Desperate Romantics, and Jam. He’s also previously co-starred with Dawn French, playing Thomas Brown in Lark Rise to Candleford.
Julie Hesmondhalgh plays Jill Wheadon
Who is Jill Wheadon? Maggie’s best friend, who teaches Year 3 at Peter’s school and is line to become the next headteacher. She is single and unlucky in love, and Maggie would dearly love to find her a man.
What else has Julie Hesmondhalgh been in? Coronation Street fans will remember her as Hayley Cropper (FKA Hayley Patterson), a role she played for 1277 episodes between 1998 and 2014. Since then, she’s starred as Amanda Wadsworth in Happy Valley, Cleo Whitaker in Cucumber, and Trish Winterman in Broadchurch – a performance which earned her a BAFTA nomination.
Patrick Robinson plays Marcus Ormansby
Who is Marcus Ormansby? A novelist who usually rents a cottage in Thurlbury over the summer months to get down to some writing. Marcus is shy and doesn’t like to get involved with village life, but it “isn’t long before he’s being unwittingly dragged into all the unfolding drama… ”
What else has Patrick Robinson been in? Casualty fans will remember him as Martin ‘Ash’ Ashford, a role he played between 1990 and 2014. Other roles include Victor in the TV series Him, Cameron in Mount Pleasant and DC Jacob Banks in The Bill; he also competed in the 2013 series of Strictly Come Dancing and made it to the semi-final.
Vicki Pepperdine plays Karen Saxton
Who is Karen Saxton? Described as “prim, stern, humourless and proper,” Karen is the school secretary. We’re told: “Karen has a secret, unrequited crush on Peter and a general dislike of just about everyone else, especially his wife Maggie.”
What else has Vicki Pepperdine been in? Vicki Pepperdine is best-known as a comedy actress and writer, who co-wrote and starred in the BBC sitcom Getting On. You may also have seen her as Anne in The Windsors, Mrs Michelson in The Woman in White, Fiona in Camping, Broadbent in Wild Bill, or Belinda in Sally4Ever – in short, she’s been in a lot of TV shows. On the big screen, the actress has also appeared in My Cousin Rachel, Goodbye Christopher Robin, and Johnny English Strikes Again.
Phil Dunster plays Jamie Cole
Who is Jamie Cole? Maggie and Peter’s son Jamie. He works for a local estate agency and lives just a short walk away from his parents’ house, and while he finds his mum exasperating he clearly hasn’t cut the apron strings just yet. It also sounds like he’s keeping something quiet: “Jamie is finally looking to the future and entertaining the idea of starting a family of his own with his wife Becka, but he’s still haunted by a dark, guilty secret from his own past that he’s never truly been able to open up about to anybody other than his Dad.”
What else has Phil Dunster been in? He’s played Lance corporal Will Jensen in Strike Back, BJ McGory in Save Me, and Tristan in Humans. He also recently appeared as Count Andrei Razumovsky in Catherine the Great, and played Quincey in Dracula.
Gwyneth Keyworth plays Becka Cole
Who is Becka Cole? Jamie’s wife of three years, which makes her Maggie’s daughter-in-law – “a relationship that neither women particularly embrace with open arms, even if they do secretly have a begrudging respect for each other.” Becka makes bespoke jewellery for a living, has a sardonic sense of humour, and is an outsider in Thurlbury.
What else has Gwyneth Keyworth been in? Recent years have seen her play Gwen Edwards in The Crown’s Aberfan episode, Danielle in Defending the Guilty, and Megan Ruddock in Hidden. A little further back were roles in Doctor Thorne (playing Lady Augusta Gresham), Game of Thrones (as Clea), and Misfits (as Marnie).
Tomi May plays Emil Dubiki
Who is Emil? The local shopkeeper, who is originally from Poland.
What else has Tomi May been in? He’s the thug Miroslav from Line of Duty! And Danny from Killing Eve! And Jarl Olavsonn from Vikings!
Emily Reid plays Roxanna Dubiki
Who is Roxanna Dubiki? Emil’s daughter, who works as a teaching assistant at the school. She’s also dating Alex Myer.
What else has Emily Reid been in? A relative newcomer to our screens, the young actress will soon star as Sophia Trenchard in the upcoming TV series Belgravia.
John Macmillan plays Jez
Who is Jez? The radio journalist who interviews Maggie Cole – and discovers that her gossip would make a very good story.
What else has John Macmillan been in? His screen credits include Famalam, Hang Ups, the TV movie of King Lear with Anthony Hopkins, Silk, Critical, and Chewing Gum.
Lee Boardman plays Brian Daniels
Who is Brian Daniels? The landlord of the local pub, The Conqueror.
What else has Lee Boardman been in? The actor has recently appeared in Bancroft (as DI George Morris), Outlander (as Lieutenant Wolff) and Benedict Cumberbatch’s Brexit: The Uncivil War (as Arron Banks). He played Timon in the TV series Rome, Hane in Beowulf: Return to the Shieldlands, Jay Newman in The Five, and Amerigo Vespucci in Da Vinci’s Demons. He began his career as Jez Quigley in Coronation Street.
Hollie Edwin plays Sydney Hurst
Who is Sydney Hurst? The barmaid.
What else has Hollie Edwin been in? She played Jess in The Old Vic’s A Christmas Carol, Jane Bennet in a UK tour of Pride & Prejudice, and Alice Fitzwarren in Dick Whittington. On TV, she’s been in Holby City and Bounty Hunters.
Chetna Pandya plays Dr Carol Tomlin
Who is Dr Carol Tomlin? The local GP.
What else has Chetna Pandya been in? The actress appeared in series two of Line of Duty, and in Black Mirror episode The National Anthem. She was the Chief in The Aliens, Seema in This Way Up, and Liana Blackwood in The A List.
Arthur McBain plays Alex Myer
Who is Alex Myer? Roxanna’s boyfriend.
What else has Arthur McBain been in? Credits include Trust Me, Friday on My Mind, and the movie Judy. (Side note: doesn’t he kind of look like Gilmore Girls’ Milo Ventimiglia?)
Laurie Kynaston plays Liam Myer
Who is Liam Myer? Alex’s little brother, and a former pupil of Peter’s.
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 also recently popped up in an episode of The Split as a recently-married drug addict, and in 2019 he won the Evening Standard theatre award for Best Emerging Talent.
Joe Layton plays Neil Roberts
Who is Neil Roberts? A Thurlbury local with a brand-new flash car, which has raised some questions.
What else has Joe Layton been in? He starred as Craig Watts in the TV series Thirteen, and played Kyle Connor in Tatau.
Kerry Howard plays Kelly Roberts
Who is Kelly Roberts? Neil’s wife, who works as a hairdresser.
What else has Kerry Howard been in? She starred as Leanne in the TV comedy Witless, and also appeared as Poppy in the Four Weddings and a Funeral small-screen reboot. Kerry Howard is also known for playing Laura in Him & Her, and she played the main role in 2016’s Young Hyacinth (the Keeping Up Appearances prequel).
Rocco Padden plays Josh Roberts
Who is Josh Roberts? Neil and Kelly’s son.
What else has Rocco Padden been in? This is his first on-screen role.
Buster the dog
Who is Buster? Marcus Ormansby’s dog. We didn’t really need to include him in this feature, but we just thought this picture was too cute not to use.
The Trouble with Maggie Cole is currently airing on Saturdays at 7/6c on PBS in the US