Netflix Adds Ben Whishaw & Sarah Lancashire to Keira Knightley's 'Black Doves'

Ben Whishaw, Sarah Lancashire, and Keira Knightley will star in Netflix's 'Black Doves'

Ben Whishaw, Sarah Lancashire, and Keira Knightley will star in Netflix's 'Black Doves'


Anyone worried that The Crown’s final season would signal the end of Netflix making prestige British series with absolutely A-list level casts can breathe a little easier with the announcement of Black Doves, the streaming service’s forthcoming spy thriller out of the U.K. Initially announced in April 2023 as part of a larger slate of shows picked up for production, the show hails from The Lazarus Project’s Joe Barton and landed on Netflix with bonafide movie star and future dame Keira Knightley (The Imitation Game) already cast in the lead role. Now she’ll be joined by two more top-tier talent in Ben Whishaw (This Is Going To Hurt) and Sarah Lancashire (Happy Valley).

Knightley stars as Helen Webb, a political wife, exemplary mother, and secret professional spy. Whishaw plays Sam Young, one of her oldest, most trusted friends in the business, who she turns to when her perfect cover life begins to unravel, only to discover his isn’t doing so well either. Lancashire will co-star as Helen’s handler, known only as Reed, an enigmatic figure who may or may not be helping her solve who is behind her world coming apart at the seams.

Black Doves was announced alongside several other high-profile gets, including an adaptation of the Danish novel series Department Q from The Crown’s Left Bank Pictures, the return of Bank of Dave: The Sequel, and Charlie Brooker’s Black Books finally gearing up for new episodes after a four-year hiatus. 

Here's the series full synopsis:

A story of friendship and sacrifice, Black Doves is set during Christmastime in London. It revolves around Helen Webb, a politician’s wife, doting mother — and professional spy. For years, Helen has been passing on her husband’s secrets to the Black Doves, the shadowy organization for whom she works. But when her lover Jason is assassinated, Helen’s life is turned upside down, and only her old friend Sam Young can keep her safe.

Helen and Sam set out to discover who killed Jason and why. But Sam, a suave, champagne-drinking assassin, also has problems of his own. Out of the game since his last job went wrong, he soon realizes his past is coming back to haunt him. Together, they set off on a mission that will lead them to uncover a vast, interconnected conspiracy. One that links the murky underworld of London to a looming geopolitical crisis — and leads them to question the cost of the moral choices they’ve made.

Knightley, Whishaw, and Lancashire will co-star alongside Andrew Buchan (This England), Omari Douglas (It’s A Sin), Andrew Koji (Warrior), Kathryn Hunter (The Tragedy of Macbeth), Sam Troughton (Litvinenko), Ella Lily Hyland (A Thousand Blows), Adam Silver (The Diplomat), Ken Nwosu (The Winter King), and Gabrielle Creevy (Operation Mincemeat).

Barton wrote all six episodes of Black Doves, with directors Alex Gabassi (The ABC Murders) and Lisa Gunning (The Power) splitting helming duties. The series is produced by Joe Barton’s Noisy Bear and Elizabeth Murdoch-founded Sister for Netflix. Barton and Knightley are executive producers alongside Jane Featherstone and Chris Fry for Sister and Harry Munday producing.

Filming has begun for Black Doves in London. The series is expected to debut on Netflix in late 2024 or early 2025.


Ani Bundel has been blogging professionally since 2010. A DC native, Hufflepuff, and Keyboard Khaleesi, she spends all her non-writing time taking pictures of her cats. Regular bylines also found on MSNBC, Paste, Primetimer, and others. 

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