The BBC’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Ordeal by Innocence, the Argyll family is trying to move on after the brutal murder of their mother and the arrest of her adopted son for the crime – but as new information emerges, is he guilty after all?
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The cast is packed with top British acting talent, from Bill Nighy to Eleanor Tomlinson to Matthew Goode. Here’s who they’ll be playing – and where you’ve seen them before:
Bill Nighy – Leo Argyll
Who is Leo Argyll? Eighteen months after his wife was violently murdered, Leo Argyll is preparing to marry his obnoxious (yet attractive) secretary Gwenda. His four surviving children – all adopted – are gathered together for the celebrations.
Where have I seen Bill Nighy before? Bill Nighy’s acting career stretches across five decades and includes The Men’s Room, Love Actually, Pirates of the Caribbean, Harry Potter, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
Anna Chancellor – Rachel Argyll
Who is Rachel Argyll? Rachel is our murder victim: within the first minutes of the first episode, she’s lying on the floor in a pool of blood. A wealthy heiress, she and her husband Leo adopted five children after realising that they couldn’t have biological kids – but, as their flashbacks reveal, she wasn’t always the loveliest of mothers and could be extremely cruel. Her son Jack was found guilty of her murder and died in prison, but new information throws that verdict into question.
Where have I seen Anna Chancellor before? Anna Chancellor stars as Penelope Kittson in the TV series Trust. Like her Ordeal by Innocence co-star Matthew Goode she’s appeared in both The Crown and Downton Abbey, as Lady Rosse and Lady Anstruther respectively. Her other credits include Mapp and Lucia, Shetland, New Blood, Pramface, The Hour and, of course, Four Weddings and a Funeral in which she played “Duckface” opposite Hugh Grant.
Eleanor Tomlinson – Mary Durrant
Who is Mary Durrant? Mary Durrant is the eldest of the adopted children, and she hates her new “stepmother” Gwenda with a passion. She still lives at the house where she grew up with her husband Philip, who appears to loathe her.
Where have I seen Eleanor Tomlinson before? Eleanor Tomlinson is best known for her role as Demelza in Poldark. She previously co-starred with her on-screen husband Matthew Goode in Death Comes to Pemberley, playing Georgiana Darcy to his George Wickham, and appeared in The White Queen and Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging.
Matthew Goode – Philip Durrant
Who is Philip Durrant? Philip Durrant married into the Argyll family, tying the knot with Mary while her heiress mother was still alive. But all is not happy in his relationship. A “war hero”, he has been left in a wheelchair after a car accident. He appears to actively despise his wife – but to rely on her for care and for money.
Where have I seen Matthew Goode before? Matthew Goode has become a familiar face on our screens. Recently he starred as Princess Margaret’s husband Tony Armstrong-Jones in The Crown, but before that he was in Sense of an Ending, Downton Abbey, The Good Wife, Dancing on the Edge and Death Comes to Pemberley. Next up is A Discovery of Witches, where he’ll play vampire Matthew Clairmont.
Christian Cooke – Mickey Argyll
Who is Mickey Argyll? After his adopted mother’s murder, Mickey moved away to London. Now he’s back for the wedding. This role was originally played by Ed Westwick, but Christian Cooke replaced him for reshoots after Christmas.
Where have I seen Christian Cooke before? In TV series The Art of More, Witches of East End and Stonemouth, or perhaps 2014 movie Love, Rosie. Christian is also the first cousin of Spice Girl Mel B.
Alice Eve – Gwenda Vaughan
Who is Gwenda Vaughan? Gwenda is almost a caricature of an evil step mum. Formerly Leo’s secretary, she finally gets to marry her wealthy boss and take charge of his household, and she’s revelling in it. Gwenda is nasty to the housekeeper Kirsten and clashes with her fiancé’s adopted kids, especially Mary.
Where have I seen Alice Eve before? Alice Eve made a couple of appearances in Iron Fist. She played Sophia in Entourage, Carol Marcus in Star Trek: Into Darkness, and Naomi in the Black Mirror episode Nosedive.
Morven Christie – Kirsten Lindstrom
Who is Kirsten Lindstrom? Kirsten has been with the family for many years. She serves them as a housekeeper and cook, but she’s not a big fan of the new lady of the house: Gwenda.
Where have I seen Morven Christie before? You may recognise Morven Christie as Alison Hughes from autism drama The A Word, or Amanda from Grantchester. Last year she was seen with Vicky McClure in The Replacement and she’s also starred in Doctor Who, playing O’Donnell in a couple of episodes in 2015.
Anthony Boyle – Jack Argyll
Who is Jack Argyll? Orphaned Jack Argyll was arrested for his adoptive mother’s murder after his prints were found all over the murder weapon. But though he clearly hated her, he always insisted he was innocent. Jack died before the case could ever come to trial, and was taken home in a coffin – with his face so mutilated that it had to be partly covered.
Where have I seen Anthony Boyle before? Anthony Boyle was a huge hit as Scorpius Malfoy in The Cursed Child, and deservedly won an Olivier Award for his performance. On TV he has appeared in Derry Girls and Philip K Dick’s Electric Dreams. We’re also about to head into a Boyle-heavy few weeks: on Tuesday nights he’ll be appearing in BBC drama Come Home alongside Christopher Eccleston.
Ella Purnell – Hester Argyll
Who is Hester Argyll? Eighteen months after her mother’s death, Hester floats aimlessly around the house, plays on the swings and drinks alcohol from spirits bottles hidden in toilet cisterns.
Where have I seen Ella Purnell before? After appearing in Never Let Me Go, Maleficent and Wildlike, Ella Purnell was cast as Emma in 2016 film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children. Since then she has starred in the TV series Sweetbitter.
Crystal Clarke – Tina Argyll
Who is Tina Argyll? Tina lives in her parents’ house and works as a librarian. She is one of the quietest of the “children”.
Where have I seen Crystal Clarke before? Crystal Clarke has appeared in a couple of Star Wars movies – The Force Awakens and The Last Jedi – as a member of the Resistance, Pamich Nerro Goode.
Luke Treadaway – Arthur Calgary
Who is Arthur Calgary? The appearance of Arthur Calgary turns everything upside down. This young man arrives at the house just before the big Argyll wedding and reveals that he is Jack’s long-lost alibi: it was him who picked Jack up in a car and gave him a lift at the time his mother was murdered. The Argylls are unsure what to believe, but if he’s telling the truth, that means one of them is probably the murderer…
Where have I seen Luke Treadaway before? Luke Treadaway starred as Vincent Rattrey in the TV series Fortitude. His other credits include The Innocence Project, Attack the Block, The Rack Pack, A Street Cat Named Bob, and Unbroken. On stage, he won an Olivier award in 2013 for his leading role in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time. Treadaway will soon appear on screens in the drama Jerusalem alongside Keeley Hawes.
Who plays the kids in Ordeal by Innocence?
Catriona MacNicoll – Young Mary
Abigail Conteh – Young Tina
Hayden Robertson – Young Hester
Rhys Lambert – Young Mickey
Luke Murray – Young Jack
This article was originally published in March 2018