The First Look at Disney+ Series 'Renegade Nell' Is Colorful and Fun

Louisa Harland in "Renegade Nell"

Louisa Harland in "Renegade Nell". 

(Photo: Cr. Robert Viglasky/Disney+)

Despite the fact that Disney+ is officially now the new global home for the iconic British sci-fi series Doctor Who outside of the U.K., the streamer still isn't what you'd call a destination location for Anglophile-friendly fare. (Unless you happen to be an Anglophile who is also a Marvel fan, as that franchise boasts a solid dozen talented British performers in its stable at any given moment.) To be fair, Disney usually has a hand in bringing a significant amount of British content to the U.S., it's just that it all tends to get shifted off to Hulu, where shows like Extraordinary, The Full Monty, and The Artful Dodger have found homes. 

But the imminent arrival of the new period adventure series Renegade Nell may indicate that's finally about to change. (Or at least become a bit more balanced until Disney+ inevitably decides to merge all its streaming content into a single app, and Hulu series all live together under the same digital roof as their Disney+ siblings.)

The series, originally called The Ballad of Renegade Nell before it shortened its name, hails from BAFTA winner Sally Wainwright, the mind behind such popular, critically acclaimed dramas as Happy Valley and Gentleman Jack. A period piece, it follows the story of the titular Nell, a quick-witted and courageous young woman who finds herself framed for murder and unexpectedly becomes the most notorious highwayman (or highwaywoman, in this instance) in 18th century England. But when she meets a magical spirit called Billy Blind,  Nell realizes her destiny may be bigger than she ever could have imagined. 

Alice Kremelberg in "Renegade Nell"

Alice Kremelberg in "Renegade Nell"

(Photo: Cr. Robert Viglasky/Disney+)

Derry Girls' Louisa Harland stars as Nell alongside newcomers Bo Bragason and Florence Keen as her two younger sisters Roxy and George. Ted Lasso favorite Nick Mohammed, plays the "plucky but prickly" Billy Blind, as they all join forces to help Nell when she finds herself on the wrong side of the law. (You can decide for yourself how you feel about the fact that he appears to be sporting fairy wings.)

The swashbuckling drama sports an all-star ensemble, including Frank Dillane (The Essex Serpent) as Nell’s fickle friend and sometime adversary Charles Devereux, a charming rogue with a dangerous, villainous alter ego. Adrian Lester (Trigger Point) plays the Earl of Poynton, a master political schemer and manipulator who joins forces against Nell with Sofia Wilmot, played by Alice Kremelberg (The Sinner), a young widow who wants power and independence at any cost. (And, if the photo above is anything to go by, has a killer fashion sense.) Her quest for independence becomes indelibly entwined with Nell's own.

Joely Richardson (The Sandman) plays eccentric newspaper magnate Lady Eularia Moggerhanger, whose oddity should be apparent from the dress she's sporting in this first look image. Pip Torrens (Poldark) appears as Lord Blancheford, the father of Sofia and her feckless, bullying brother Thomas, who is played by Jake Dunn (Half Bad). Ényì Okoronkwo (The Lazarus Project) also stars as Rasselas, a spirited stable boy who joins Nell and her sisters on the run in his own bid for freedom. And Craig Parkinson (Line of Duty) is Nell’s kind-hearted father Sam.

Joely Richardson in "Renegade Nell"

Joely Richardson in "Renegade Nell"

(Photo: Cr. Robert Viglasky/Disney+)

Renegade Nell is written and created by Wainwright in her first new project since Happy Valley concluded earlier this year and the period drama Gentleman Jack was canceled after two seasons by HBO. The show is directed by Ben Taylor (Sex Education) with Amanda Brotchie (Gentleman Jack) and MJ Delaney (Ted Lasso) also helming episodes. 

The first season of the swashbuckling series is comprised of eight episodes, with each clocking in at 45 minutes. Its colorful, almost fantasy-like vibe feels targeted at a younger audience than traditionally tends to tune in to historical dramas like this. But Renegade Nell feels as though it could fill a necessary gap in this genre space. We certainly don't see that many adventure-based TV series like this all that often anymore (Around the World in 80 Days is the only recent example that comes to mind), and there's also a serious lack of more youthful period-set shows for viewers who aren't comfortable with the sexual content of Bridgerton or the frequent violence of Outlander. Could it draw in some new audiences? Very possibly!

The series is produced by Lookout Point as a Disney+ U.K. original series, with Jon Jennings as Series Producer and Stella Merz as Producer. Wainwright, Taylor, Fath Penhale, Will Johnston, and Louise Mutter are all serving as executive producers for Lookout Point, alongside scripted content VP Johanna Devereaux for Disney+.

Renegade Nell will premiere globally on Disney+ in 2024, though a specific release date has yet to be announced. 

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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