Written by Kianna Best on Mar 24, 2023. Posted in Production News

Bristol’s The Bottle Yard to welcome new Disney+ series rivals

The casting for Disney+ much anticipated 8-part series Rivals, based on the much loved novel by Jilly Cooper, was announced on 21 March. Set against the backdrop of 1980’s England, the series will feature the same drama and success of the social elite featured in it’s original source inspiration. Produced by Happy Prince, which is a part of ITV Studios, the series will be filming at The Bottle Yard Studios’ new TBY2 facility.


“I’m utterly enchanted to be able to announce our all-star line-up for Rivals,” commented executive producer and Rivals author Jilly Cooper. “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.


Dominic Treadwell-Collins, known for his work on A Very English Scandal, Holding and EastEnders, joins Cooper as executive producer, along with Alexander Lamb of Auckley Bridge, Felicity Blunt, Laura Wade, and director of scripted content for Disney+ EMEA Lee Mason. Treadwell Collins and Wade also head up the series writers room with  Sophie Goodhart (The Baby, Sex Education), Marek Horn, Mimi Hare & Clare Naylor (The Accidental Husband), Dare Aiyegbayo (The Dumping Ground, EastEnders), Kefi Chadwick (Looted, Avoidance), Tray Agyeman, and Sorcha Kurien Walsh (The Pink Pill).



Rivals’ start studded cast was curated by casting director Kelly Valentine, known for her work on Kaos, The Last Kingdom and Bridgerton. Set in the fictional county of Rutshire and immersed in the hectic lifestyle that surrounds 1986 independent television, viewers encounter the rivalry between Rupert Campbell Black, an ex-Olympian, Tory member of Parliament with a dangerously charismatic personality, played by  Alec Hassle, who’s previous roles include The Tragedy of Macbeth and The Boys, and Lord Tony Baddingham, controller of Corinium Television, played by Doctor Who and Good Omens actor David Tennant.


Cooper added: “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!”


The rest of the casting includes Aidan Turner (Poldark, The Suspect) playing Declan O’Hara, Victoria Smurfit (Bloodlands, One Upon A Time) playing his fickle wife Maud O’Hara, Bella Maclean (Spring Awakening, Sex Education) as their strong willed eldest daughter Taggie and Catriona Chandler (Pistol, Enola Holems 2) as the younger, wilder sister Caitlin. Nafessa Williams (Black Lightning, Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance with Somebody) takes on the role of American TV executive Cameron Cook trying to prove herself in a male dominated world. Playing romantic novelist wife Lizzie Vereker and self centred TV presenter husband James are Katherine Parkinson (Humans, Here We Go) and Oliver Chris (The Crown, Trying).


Danny Dyer (Eastenders, The Football Factory) and Lisa McGrillis (Maternal, Mum) play husband and wife Freddie and Valerie Jones, who’s outsider status meets a change when proposition from Rupert and Tony comes. Tony’s wife Lady Monica Baddingham is played by Claire Rusbrook from Sherwood and Ali and Ava, and his brother Basil ‘Bas’ Baddingham is played by Skins and Shantaram’s Luke Pasqualino. Emily Atack (The Emily Atack Show, The Inbetweeners) plays Sarah Stratton, the new wife to Deputy Prime Minister, Paul Stratton, played by Rufus Jones (W1A, Home)


Images courtesy of Disney


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