David Tennant and Aidan Turner Team Up for Jilly Cooper Adaptation 'Rivals'

Aidan Turner & David Tennant are teaming up for 'Rivals'

Aidan Turner & David Tennant are teaming up for 'Rivals'


It's a running joke among Anglophiles that there are only so many actors in England. It's why we tend to see the same faces pop up in all sorts of series, year in and year out, from period dramas to police procedurals. But every so often the stars align just so, and several of our ultimate favorites somehow end up in a project together. Such is the case with Rivals, a Disney+ UK original series that will feature two of our all-time favorite performers among its leads: David Tennant (Doctor Who) and Aidan Turner (Poldark). 

Rivals is an adaptation of the second installment in bestselling author Jilly Cooper's Rutshire Chronicles, a soapy series of novels that follows the stories of the upper-class families of a fictional British county and features sex, scandal, betrayal, and everything in between. 

Set amid all the drama and excess of 1980s England, the eight-part series will explore the cutthroat world of British television, as a longstanding rivalry between two powerful men slowly comes to a head. (Get it...Rivals?) The Tragedy of Macbeth's Alex Hassell stars as the incorrigible and dangerously charismatic Rupert Campbell Black, a Tory MP and former Olympian. Tennant is his ambitious, single-minded, and utterly egotistical Rutshire neighbor, Lord Tony Babbington, who also happens to be the head of Corinium Television. And as the two men lock horns over the future of the company, it sounds like everyone around them will be caught in the crossfire. 

Turner is the fiercely intellectual TV presenter Declan O'Hara, a talent who is wooed to Corinium from the BBC by Babbington. Danny Dyer (EastEnders) is Freddie Jones, a self-made electronics millionaire with little access to the upper tiers of Rutshire society. 

Other members of the series' sprawling ensemble cast include Victoria Smurfit (Bloodlands) as Declan’s bohemian, fickle wife Maud O’Hara; Bella Maclean (Sex Education) as their tender-hearted elder daughter, Taggie; and  Catriona Chandler (Enola Holmes 2) as the pair's wilder younger daughter Caitlin. Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning) plays talented American TV executive Cameron Cook: Katherine Parkinson (Humans) is Lizzie Vereker, a romance novelist who's constantly being overlooked by her self-centered TV presenter husband James (The Crown's Oliver Chris)

Also featured in the cast are Claire Rushbrook (Sherwood), Lisa McGrillis (Mum), Emily Atack (The Inbetweeners), Rufus Jones (W1A), and Luke Pasqualino (Skins).

"’m utterly enchanted to be able to announce our all-star line-up for Rivals," Cooper said in a statement. "Featuring some of the best acting talent that the British Isles has to offer, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better ensemble cast. I cannot wait to be on set and see them bring the characters I love so much to life. The minute we met with Alex we knew he’d perfectly embody my all-time hero, the iconic, racy, ruthless, and devastatingly handsome, Rupert Campbell-Black. Viewers are in for a treat!" 

There's no word yet on when Rivals will air or how it will come to America. Given the---ahem---adult subject matter of Cooper's novels, one has to assume this is most likely to make its way to the States via Hulu rather than the more family-oriented Disney+, much the same way Steven Knight's upcoming period drama A Thousand Blows is set to do when it arrives.

Lacy Baugher

Lacy's love of British TV is embarrassingly extensive, but primarily centers around evangelizing all things Doctor Who, and watching as many period dramas as possible.

Digital media type by day, she also has a fairly useless degree in British medieval literature, and dearly loves to talk about dream poetry, liminality, and the medieval religious vision. (Sadly, that opportunity presents itself very infrequently.) York apologist, Ninth Doctor enthusiast, and unabashed Ravenclaw. Say hi on Threads or Blue Sky at @LacyMB. 

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