Any BBC adaptation of a John le Carré spy thriller is bound to attract an impressive cast, and The Little Drummer Girl is no exception.


Michael Shannon, Florence Pugh and Alexander Skarsgård star in the six-part series which takes viewers back to 1979, with a series of deadly terror attacks unfolding across Europe.

However, among the familiar faces are a number of rising stars and international actors who you may not have seen before.

Here are all the characters you need to know about and the actors who play them.

Florence Pugh plays Charlie

Florence Pugh plays Charlie in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Charlie? A young English actress trying to launch her career. She travels to Greece, where she meets a mysterious man called Becker and is drawn into a world of espionage and political violence.

More like this

Where have I seen Florence Pugh before? A rising star in the acting world, Florence Pugh is only 22. She made her debut in 2014's The Falling, and followed that up with roles in Lady Macbeth (as Katherine), Marcella (as Cara Thomas) and King Lear (as Cordelia). She also features in Netflix's upcoming historical epic Outlaw King.

Alexander Skarsgard plays Becker

Alexander Skarsgard plays Becker in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Becker? It's very hard to pin down who Becker is without ruining the plot, but it's safe to say that he hides many secrets.

Where have I seen Alexander Skarsgård before? The Swedish actor is perhaps best known for playing vampire Eric Northman in True Blood, and for starring in The Legend of Tarzan. Others will recognise him from the role of Perry Wright in Big Little Lies, for which he won an Emmy and a Golden Globe. And if the name sounds familiar, that's because he's from a Swedish acting dynasty: his dad is Stellan Skarsgård and his brother is Bill Skarsgård.

Michael Shannon plays Kurtz

Michael Shannon plays Kurtz in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Kurtz? Martin Kurtz is an Israeli spymaster. He is working on an elaborate scheme to bring down Khalil, a Palestinian terrorist whose network has been attacking Jewish-related targets in Europe.

Where have I seen Michael Shannon before? The American actor has a ton of film and TV credits to his name, as well as a couple of Oscar nominations. His films include Revolutionary Road, Nocturnal Animals, 99 Homes, Groundhog Day, 8 Mile and The Shape of Water. On the small screen, he starred as Nelson van Alden in Boardwalk Empire.

Michael Moshonov plays Shimon Litvak

Michael Moshonov plays Litvak in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Litvak? An Israeli, and a key member of Kurtz's team.

Where have I seen Michael Moshonov before? The Israeli actor, singer, musician and TV host recently appeared on British TV as Aikham Tsueh in The City and the City, alongside David Morrissey. His other credits include Mary Magdalene, Kathmandu, and Profile 64.

Amir Khoury plays Michel (aka Salim)

Amir Khoury plays Michel in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Michel? Also known as Salim Al-Khadar, Michel is a Palestinian revolutionary working for kingpin Khalil.

Where have I seen Amir Khoury before? The actor starred in Israeli political thriller Fauda, which is now on Netflix.

Charles Dance plays Picton

Charles Dance plays Picton in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Commander Picton? Kurtz must work with Picton in the UK, handing over enough information to ensure the Israelis can carry out their plan and let the terror plot "play out" with Charlie at the centre. Picton is deeply suspicious of the Israelis.

Where have I seen Charles Dance before? Charles Dance's extremely familiar face has appeared in Game of Thrones, The Jewel in the Crown, Alien 3, The Imitation Game, And Then There Were None, The Woman in White, Ghostbusters, Bleak House, and many more - with an acting career stretching all the way back to 1974.

Lubna Azabal plays Fatmeh

Lubna Azabal plays Fatmeh in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Fatmeh? Michel's beloved sister. She has remained in the Middle East and seems to sit at the centre of the spider's web, coordinating attacks.

Where have I seen Lubna Azabal before? The Belgian actress was born in Brussels to a Moroccan father and a Spanish mother. Her credits include Incendies, Here, and the 2005 Palestinian political thriller Paradise Now. You may also have spotted her in The Honourable Woman as Atika Halibi, or in Body of Lies as Aisha's sister.

Katharina Schuttler plays Helga

Katharina Schuttler plays Helga in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Helga? One of the Palestinian revolutionary group's Western agents. She is cold, brutal and mistrustful.

Where have I seen Katharina Schuttler before? If you're a fan of German TV and film, you may have seen her in Klassentreffen, Alone in Berlin (as Claire Gehrich), Generation War, or Die Welt der Wunderlichs.

Simona Brown plays Rachel

Simona Brown plays Rachel in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Rachel? Spoiler alert for episode one: Rachel is one of Kurtz's team, who helps with surveillance and research.

Where have I seen Simona Brown before? If you're a John le Carré fan, you may actually have spotted Simona Brown in The Night Manager – where she played Grace. Since then, she's starred as Faith in TV series Him, Roz Walters in Guilt, and Tess/Mania in Kiss Me First. Her other credits include JK Rowling's The Casual Vacancy and TV movie Murdered by my Boyfriend.

Kate Sumpter plays Rose

Kate Sumpter plays Rose in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Rose? One of Kurtz's team. She is initially tasked with befriending Charlie by bumping into her on the ferry to Naxos.

Where have I seen Kate Sumpter before? This is the actress's first screen appearance.

Alexander Beyer plays Alexis

Alexander Beyer plays Alexis in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Alexis? Kurtz's new friend and contact in Germany, whom he meets while investigating the bombing of the Israeli attaché's residence. The novel itself actually starts from Alexis' perspective, as he prepares to meet with the team sent over by Israel to investigate the terrorist incident – and develops a fascination with Kurtz, deciding to pull strings to help his mission.

Where have I seen Alexander Beyer before? The German actor has starred in Deutschland 83 and Deutschland 86, as well as playing Rainer in the Golden Globe-nominated movie Good Bye Lenin! – the tragicomedy about the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Iben Akerlie plays Anna

Iben Akerlie plays Anna in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Anna? Michel's lover, who helps him with his bombing campaign – handing over the fateful suitcase to the Israeli attaché and pretending to be his au pair's friend.

Where have I seen Iben Akerlie before? The Norwegian actress has credits including Mammon, In the Sea, and Victoria (no, not that Victoria; the 2013 Norwegian movie).

Daniel Litman plays Daniel

Daniel Litman plays Daniel in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Daniel? Kurtz calls in Daniel to join his team of "hunters" based in Munich. He's a young Israeli man, full of passion and determination.

Where have I seen Daniel Litman before? Credits include Neighbourhood, Mossad 101, Yom Haem, and Ha-Hamama.

Clare Holman plays Miss Bach

Clare Holman plays Miss Bach in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Miss Bach? Kurtz brings in Englishwoman Miss Bach as a key part of his team in Munich. She's a strategist, a planner, a fixer, and even an actor. She also has a history of alcoholism, so Kurtz has tasked his other employees with keeping an eye on her.

Where have I seen Clare Holman before? You're most likely to recognise Clare Holman as Dr Laura Hobson, the forensic pathologist she played in Inspector Morse and Lewis from 1995 to 2015. Recently she has appeared in shows including Rellik, The A Word and The Crown.

Gennady Fleysher plays Schwilli

Gennady Fleysher plays Schwilli in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Schwilli? An expert forger and faker on Kurtz's team, who can draw up documents and mimic handwriting and edit photographs seamlessly. He works with Miss Bach.

Where have I seen Gennady Fleysher before? The actor is something of an enigma, but he has appeared in the 2002 movie City of Ghosts in the character of Nevesky.

Max Irons plays Al

Max Irons plays Al in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Al? Charlie's boyfriend – or something like that – who travels out to Greece with her. He's self-righteously political, big-headed and kind of annoying. (In the novel he's also physically abusive.)

Where have I seen Max Irons before? The actor has starred as Howard Carter in Tutankhamun, Miles in The Riot Club, and King Edward in The White Queen. His most recent role was as Joe Turner in TV series Condor.

Charif Ghattas plays Khalil

Charif Ghattas plays Khalil in The Little Drummer Girl

Who is Khalil? A Palestinian revolutionary, and a master bomb maker. He is Salim's older brother and is extremely elusive – much to Kurtz's frustration.

Where have I seen Charif Ghattas before? The actor has also appeared in a couple of French films: Après Les Cendres (After the Ashes) and Sous Nos Empreientes (Beneath Our Footprints).

John le Carré plays a waiter

John Le Carre in The Little Drummer Girl

What's the story behind the cameo? Novelist John Le Carré has made a habit of making guest appearances in adaptations of his books. In The Night Manager he played a fed-up diner, while in Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy he was a guest at the Christmas party. He also popped up as a museum guard in Our Kind of Traitor (the movie starring Alexander Skarsgård's dad Stellan, funnily enough).

In The Little Drummer Girl, we'll see him as a German-speaking waiter serving coffee.


The Little Drummer Girl airs on Sundays on BBC1

Sign up for the free newsletter