Flesh and Blood: Meet the cast and characters

Imelda Staunton and Stephen Rea lead the cast of this dark and gripping mystery series, which is stripped across the week.

By Alex Fletcher Published: 7 October 2020 - 11.22am
Drama BritBox

Imelda Staunton

ITV

Secrets, lies, rivalries and betrayals explode in the enthralling new drama series Flesh and Blood.

Featuring an all-star cast, a perfect coastal setting and an original, complex central mystery, you’re going to be immediately addicted to this enthralling show.

Flesh and Blood opens with a body on a beach, but the tensions and layers in this family drama make this far greater than a standard whodunnit.

Watch the Flesh and Blood box set on BritBox.

Here is our preview of the cast and characters at the heart of the series...

Mary - Imelda Staunton

Imelda Staunton as Mary in Flesh and Blood ITV

Who is Mary?

Mary has lived next door to Vivien and her family since before the children were born. Living on her own has meant she’s had plenty of time to help Vivien out with childcare and other household duties. 

In fact over the years the family have come to rely on Mary - she’s been a shoulder to cry on and a devoted supporter of them all.

Quiet and unassuming, Mary has never looked for any notice or reward - other than Vivien’s friendship - but she definitely did not bargain on the arrival of a new man in Vivien’s life. Of course she wants Vivien to be happy, but can this new man really be trusted?

Imelda Staunton on Flesh and Blood...

"Flesh and Blood is an unusual, refreshing drama that is hugely intriguing. All of the different parts of the family story are very interesting with a mystery right from the start. It also highlights the intricacies of three grown up children’s relationships with their partners, ex-partners and with their mother.

"The writer Sarah Williams has drawn rich characters across the drama. Every character has a good story to tell and they all have different lives. She has done a great job in keeping all of the characters bubbling away while one strand goes all the way through: 'What on earth has gone on?'

"We know from the beginning that something bad has happened to one of these characters before the story goes back in time. But you are never quite sure exactly what that is and who it involves until the end of the drama.

"What is clever about Flesh and Blood is you want to know what has happened but you also become invested in everyone’s story. Trying to guess what these characters are really like. You think it’s possible that any one of these characters could be responsible. We all love, for whatever reason, questions like, ‘Who did it? Why did they do it? Was it an accident? What’s going on?’ We want to be intrigued and kept interested along the way."

Vivien - Francesca Annis

Francesca Annis as Vivien in Flesh and Blood ITV

Who is Vivien?

On the cusp of turning 70, Vivien remains fit, attractive and determined to grab what life still has to offer. She nursed her husband through a long-term illness before his death 18 months ago, and now she’s keen to enjoy a rediscovered freedom. In the past she’d spent years looking after her children while running a successful hair salon.

And her marriage had long contained cracks and heartaches that she’d kept concealed. Then six months ago Vivien met Mark, who quickly set about sweeping her off her feet. She feels she deserves some romance in her autumn years. But is she throwing caution to the wind?

Francesca Annis on Flesh and Blood...

“Reading the scripts - Flesh and Blood has the absolute classic opening to a thriller. Something bad has happened to one of the characters but you don’t know who it is. Then it cuts to this breezy, chatty family. Sarah Williams’ writing is wonderful because everything seems so ordinary but you wonder, ‘What is the story arc that leads to this end?

“And who is it within this group of people?’ It is a real page turner. And it also made me laugh. Unexpected things kept coming up in the most ordinary situations. I haven’t done something like that for a long time.”

Jake - Russell Tovey

Russell Tovey in ITV's Flesh and Blood ITV

Who is Jake?

Passionate, impulsive, and with something of a hot temper, Jake is fit and athletic – working as a personal trainer. He hid his spiralling gambling debts from his wife and family for as long as he could, but when they came to light he found his marriage on the rocks. 

Jake loves his wife, Leila, and his two kids (Maddie, 10 and Aaron, 7) madly. But they now live separately from him, and he’s scrambling to pay off his debts and win back Leila’s trust in order to rebuild his family. But will he set about doing all of that in the most sensible way…?

Russell Tovey on Flesh and Blood…

"It was the opportunity to play the role of a father as I have not yet done so. I’ve always been drawn to domestic dramas and that emotional connection you have with your parents and siblings. That is something that has always fascinated me on an emotional level.

"To play with this dynamic of being part of a family is something I find interesting and was too exciting to pass up.

"And to play a character who has so much animosity towards this older man who has come into his mother’s life. It was a really great role and something I had to explore."

Mark - Stephen Rea

Stephen Rea as Mark in ITV's Flesh and Blood ITV

Who is Mark?

Mark is charming, impulsive, and seems to wear his heart on his sleeve. A retired surgeon, 6 months ago he met Vivien and now seems committed and is putting his heart and soul into this new relationship – showering Vivien with gifts and treats. 

But Vivien’s children are worried about Mark’s motives and how quickly his relationship with their mother has progressed. No one seems to know that much about his past. Is Mark too good to be true?

Stephen Rea on Flesh and Blood...

“Francesca Annis and Imelda Staunton were already attached to this. Actors who I am very impressed by, fond of and know. The character of Mark was interesting and it had an intriguing surface of a functional family that turns out to be completely non-functional. I have a personal belief that most families aren’t functional. So, I’m quite happy to contribute to that propaganda.”

Natalie - Lydia Leonard

Lydia Leonard as Natalie ITV

Who is Natalie?

Right from when she was young, Natalie always had big dreams – first of being a dancer, then an actress, then an artist. They all came to nothing. She’s ended up working as the personal assistant to a property developer.

Not that she isn’t talented and highly competent in this busy role. But things have become complicated by the fact that her boss, Tony, is also now her lover – which Natalie is determined to keep hidden from her family.

Lydia Leonard on Flesh and Blood…

“Flesh and Blood shows how families can be so dysfunctional and loving at the same time. There’s a thriller element to this story but also a lightness. It was fun to film and, hopefully, will be fun to watch. I think a lot of people will relate to these characters. It’s darkly witty and gripping.”

Helen - Claudie Blakley

Claudie Blakley as Helen in Flesh and Blood ITV

Who is Helen?

Helen doesn’t mean to be bossy, it’s just she has a knack for seeing the best way to get things done. This has undoubtedly helped her career in hospital administration. And she’s recently taken on her biggest challenge yet – turning around a failing NHS Trust.

But perhaps Helen relies a little too much on a drink at the end of the day to relax from all the stress. And while work consumes her, she’s apparently unaware that her marriage to husband George is fracturing, and her teenage daughter, Lily, might be drifting away.

Claudie Blakely on Flesh and Blood…

"Flesh and Blood has a bit of everything in it and the writing is brilliant. I think viewers will relate to this story because it’s about a family all harbouring secrets and they are suspicious of their mother’s new boyfriend which gives it a thriller aspect. There is also a neighbour who you’re never quite sure about. It's a bit eerie and quirky."

Stella - Sharon Small

Sharon Small in a scene with Russell Tovey in Flesh and Blood ITV

Who is Stella?

Confident and independent with a no-nonsense, straight-talking attitude, Stella is partner in a local law firm with a small side-line in property rentals. Unattached, with no children and heartache in her past, she’s made a conscious choice to eschew relationships – except on her own terms. 

Keep-fit classes brought her into contact with Jake, who became her personal trainer. And then provider of other services too. But will what started as a purely professional understanding between them spiral into something more intimate?

George - Keir Charles

Keir Charles in Flesh and Blood ITV

Who is George?

Once a bit of a dreamer with an artistic bent, George has nevertheless always been loyal and committed – a faithful husband to Helen and loving stay-at-home dad for daughter Lily. Nowadays his artistry is mainly poured into renovating properties the family buys to live in then sell on. 

But Helen’s overarching commitment to work, and domineering manner at home, has led to an increasing distance in their relationship. George often retreats into getting stoned as a coping mechanism. While Helen doesn’t even seem to notice this dangerous drift…”

Leila - Lara Rossi

Determined, self-sufficient and sexy, Jake really met his match with Leila - her tough-love approach brought his wild youth into line. But over the years Jake has gradually slipped back into his old ways, and when Leila discovered he’d run up a huge gambling debt which imperilled the family home, she threw him out at once.

A lioness of a mother, Leila wants to protect her kids from their father's excesses. But, but - there is still a deep love between this couple, and if Jake can pay off his debts and mend his ways, might she be tempted to give him a second chance?

Tony - Vincent Regan

Vincent Regan plays Tony in Flesh and Blood ITV

Charismatic and full of bonhomie, bluster and verve, Tony is a man who gets things done. Over the years he’s built up a thriving property development company and he enjoys the cash, lifestyle and freedom this successful business brings. His home life also appears charmed - with a beautiful house, a gorgeous wife, and two teenage daughters. 

Yet Tony’s also been having a long-standing affair with his PA, Natalie. And can he really continue to have it all, while avoiding personal conflicts? And at what cost to him?

Watch the Flesh and Blood box set on BritBox.