Disney+ lines up Rivals

Disney+ lines up Rivals

By Michael Pickard
May 10, 2024

First Look

FIRST LOOK: Here’s Alex Hassell, David Tennant, Aidan Turner, Nafessa Williams, Katherine Parkinson and Bella Maclean in Rivals, the upcoming Hulu and Disney+ adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s novel of the same name.

Alex Hassell as Rupert Campbell-Black

Produced by Happy Prince, the series is set against the backdrop of the drama, excess and shocking antics of the power-grabbing social elite of 1980s England as it delves into the ruthless world of independent television in 1986.

Alex Hassell (The Tragedy of Macbeth) plays the dashing ex-Olympian, Member of Parliament, incorrigible rake and dangerously charismatic Rupert Campbell-Black. David Tennant (top, Doctor Who) features as Lord Tony Baddingham, controller of Corinium Television and Rupert’s single-mindedly ambitious and egotistical adversary. Aidan Turner (Poldark) is journalist and TV presenter Declan O’Hara, who becomes caught in the crossfire of the long-simmering feud between Rupert and Tony.

Nafessa Williams (Black Lighting) is pictured as Cameron Cook, a ferociously talented American TV executive who is brought to England by Tony to produce Declan’s new prime-time talk show. Katherine Parkinson (Humans) is Lizzie Vereker, a romantic novelist suffering from a distinct lack of romance in her life and Bella Maclean (Spring Awakening) is Taggie O’Hara, Declan’s tender-hearted yet strong-willed eldest daughter and unexpected temptation for Rupert.

Nafessa Williams as Cameron Crook

The series also stars Emily Atack, Catriona Chandler, Oliver Chris, Danny Dyer, Rufus Jones, Lisa McGrillis, Luke Pasqualino, Claire Rushbrook and Victoria Smurfit.

Rivals is executive produced by Dominic Treadwell-Collins (A Very English Scandal), Alexander Lamb (Ackley Bridge), Felicity Blunt, Laura Wade (The Riot Club), Rivals author Dame Jilly Cooper and director of scripted content for Disney+ EMEA Lee Mason.

The series is written by Dominic Treadwell-Collins and Laura Wade alongside the series episodic writers room which includes Sophie Goodhart (The Baby), Marek Horn (Wild Swimming), Mimi Hare & Clare Naylor (The Accidental Husband), Dare Aiyegbayo (The Dumping Ground) and Kefi Chadwick (Looted).

Tray Agyeman is a shadow writer on episode six, and Sorcha Kurien Walsh (The Pink Pill) is staff writer in the room. The casting director is Kelly Valentine Hendry (Bridgerton).

The lead director is Elliot Hegarty (Ted Lasso), who is also an executive producer on episodes 1-4. Eliza Mellor (The Midwich Cuckoos) is series producer. Dee Koppang O’Leary (The Crown) and Alexandra Brodski (Somewhere Boy) also direct episodes.

The series is set to debut on Hulu in the US and on Disney+ in other countries later this year.

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