In Spotlight: Keeley Hawes’ best ever roles from The Durrells and It's a Sin to Bodyguard

Whether it’s in tense thrillers, police procedurals or family-friendly dramas, Keeley Hawes has been a fixture on our TV screens for more than 20 years. Here’s our pick of her biggest roles.

Updated: 10 June 2022 - 10.06am
Jeff Spicer/Getty Keeley Hawes

When you see that Keeley Hawes is involved in a TV show, you know it’s going to be a good one.

The actress has an uncanny knack of picking out some of the best projects around, and as a result has rarely been off our screens during the last two decades.

As she takes the central role of Dr Susannah Zellaby in Sky Max's science-fiction thriller The Midwich Cuckoos, we look back at her best TV performances - from Line and Duty and The Durrells to It's a Sin and Bodyguard...  

The Midwich Cuckoos - Dr Susannah Zellaby (2022)

Keeley Hawes plays child psychologist Dr Susannah Zellaby in Sky Max's up-to-date adaptation of John Wyndham's 1950s sci-fi novel about an unexplained event which leaves all the adult women in an English market town pregnant. When their children are born, the mystery deepens...

Midwich resident Dr Zellaby, out of town when the event takes place, counsels the shocked expectant mothers (including her own daughter Cassie) and has to deal with the aftermath as the children begin to exert a strange hold over the town.

Stream every episode of The Midwich Cuckoos on Sky Max with NOW.

Exclusive: Keeley Hawes and Synnøve Karlsen share secrets from the set

It's a Sin - Valerie Tozer (2021)

Keeley Hawes in It's a Sin Ben Blackall

As the mother of central character Ritchie Tozer (Olly Alexander), Keeley was a peripheral character for much of Russell T. Davies's five-part AIDS-era drama.

Valerie is a quiet, supportive mother to her son, until the final episode in which Hawes delivers an acting tour-de-force as her character suddenly has to comes to terms with the lifestyle and illness that Ritchie has been hiding from her. 

The scenes in which Hawes furiously unleashes all her pent-up anger and grief at his nurses and friends were praised by critics as the stand-out moments of a remarkable piece of television, and saw her nominated for awards at the Edinburgh Festival and Royal Television Society. 

Watch It's a Sin on Netflix, BritBox and All 4.

Finding Alice - Alice Dillon (2021)

Keeley Hawes in Finding Alice Red Productions/ITV

Comedy-drama Finding Alice cast Keeley as Alice Dillon, who appears to be living the perfect life until her parter Harry is killed in an accident within hours of them moving into the dream house which he designed. 

Alice doesn't just have to navigate life without her partner: as well as trying to work out what all the buttons do in his smart home, she must console their daughter Charlotte and move on in the face of unwanted interference from his parents and the lingering mystery surrounding Harry's sudden demise.

Watch Finding Alice on the ITV Hub and BritBox.

Honour - DCI Caroline Goode (2020)

Keeley starred as real-life detective DCI Caroline Goode in ITV police drama Honour, which was based on the true story of the brutal honour killing of Banaz Mahmod.

DCI Caroline Goode was the police detective who doggedly pursued justice for Banaz in what became a very personal mission.

Goode was appalled that her own force had missed the warning signs when Banaz had reported threats to her life by her own family five times, but had still been killed.

Watch Honour on the ITV Hub and BritBox.

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From original shows like The Dry and Hotel Portofino to the best of British comedy and drama, there's something for everyone at BritBox.

The Durrells - Louisa Durrell (2016–2019)

Keeley Hawes as Louisa Durrell in The Durrells ITV

Although her CV is replete with roles in gritty dramas, Keeley won new fans as the lead character in a cosy family series on ITV.

She played Louisa Durrell in The Durrells - the TV adaptation of Gerald Durrell’s memoir, My Family and Other Animals.

The formidable Louisa – mother to writer Laurence as well as future conservatonist Gerald - moved her family to Corfu as a single mother in the 1930s, as she battled to cope with her husband’s death and carve out a new life for her children.

Viewers fell in love with the gentle, funny series that also took in some of Corfu’s most beautiful scenery.

Watch seasons 1 to 4 of The Durrells on ITV Hub and BritBox.

Mrs Wilson - Dorothy Wick (2018)

Keeley Hawes in Mrs Wilson BBC

Despite only appearing in one episode of this three-part BBC drama, Keeley was nominated for a Television BAFTA Award for her role as polygamist's victim Dorothy Wick. 

Actress Wick was one of the many wives of Alec Wilson, who, after his sudden death in 1963, was revealed to have lived a very different life to the one his wife Alison (played by her own real-life granddaughter Ruth Wilson) believed. 

Alison confronts Dorothy about her marriage with Alec, only to discover more truths about Alec's many lives. 

Watch Mrs Wilson on Netflix and BritBox. 

Bodyguard - Julia Montague (2018)

Kelley Hawes and Richard Madden in Bodyguard BBC

Bodyguard, from Line of Duty writer Jed Mercurio, became the TV talking point of 2018 when it aired in the autumn of that year.

Keeley played ambitious Home Secretary Julia Montague, who is assigned a new personal protection officer, David Budd, from the Met’s special protection unit.

However Budd (played by Richard Madden), is a traumatised ex-soldier. While he has closer access to Julia than anyone, he has wildly differing political views to her, making the relationship between the two a test of loyalty and morality.

The series was a huge success with critics and viewers alike, with 11 million people tuning in for the thrilling finale. Hawes was nominated for a Bafta for playing Montague, while Madden won a Golden Globe for his role. 

Watch Bodyguard on Netflix.

The Missing - Gemma Webster (2016)

Another Keeley Hawes series that had everyone talking was 2016 drama The Missing.

Keeley featured in the second series of the mystery thriller as the mother of a girl who was kidnapped, presumed dead – until her apparent reappearance many years later.

Her character Gemma lived on an army base in Germany, which she’d refused to leave since her daughter’s disappearance despite the huge strain it put on her family.

Keeley’s portrayal of a bereaved mother who wanted desperately to believe that her child had returned from the dead was masterful and heartbreaking.

Watch seasons 1 and 2 of The Missing on BritBox.

Line of Duty - Lindsay Denton (2014-2016)

Jed Mercurio’s enormously successful police corruption series is known for its stand-out performances, not just from its main cast of Martin Compston, Vicky McClure and Adrian Dunbar, but also from each series' guest stars.

Keeley is in good company, joining the ranks of Lennie James, Thandie Newton and Stephen Graham as a series guest star on Line of Duty. Critics labelled her performance in the second series of the show as one of the best of 2014.

Viewers were kept guessing at whether her character Lindsay Denton was really being bullied at work as a detective, or if she was scheming against the force all along.

She returned in series 3 of the show and, as ever in Line of Duty, was part of a string of twists and turns that were thoroughly unpredictable.

All six seasons of Line of Duty are available on BBC iPlayer.

The Casual Vacancy - Samantha Mollison (2015)

This three-part adaptation of JK Rowling’s first novel for adult readers starred Hawes as Samantha Mollison.

Samantha was a scandalous character for the seemingly sleepy town of Pagford, an apparent alcoholic who was running a struggling bra shop that often shocked some of the more conservative residents.

Keeley’s character also kissed a 16-year-old boy as she appeared in the series alongside Rufus Jones, Julia McKenzie, Rory Kinnear and Michael Gambon.

The Casual Vacancy is available to buy on Amazon Prime Video.

Ashes to Ashes - Alex Drake (2008-2010)

Keeley Hawes in Ashes to Ashes BBC

Alex Drake in Ashes to Ashes is remembered as one of Keeley’s career-defining roles.

The sequel to time-travelling police procedural Life on Mars saw Alex undergo a similar weird experience to John Simm’s character Sam Tyler – apparently waking up in a different decade after suffering a traumatic injury.

Alex, who was revealed to have been Tyler's unnamed psychologist from the original programme, found herself working with unreconstructed cop Gene Hunt (Philip Glenister) and co in the police force of the 1980s after being shot in the head by a patient.

The programme ran for three series and viewers were won over by Alex and Gene’s odd working relationship.

Watch all three seasons of Ashes to Ashes on BBC iPlayer.

Spooks - Zoe Reynolds (2002-2004)

In the same year that mini-series Tipping the Velvet was a hit, we were introduced to the much longer-running, but even more popular, spy drama Spooks.

The BBC series followed the dangerous and exciting world of MI5 agents and saw Hawes star as Zoe Reynolds alongside Peter Firth, Hugh Simon, Nicola Walker and David Oyelowo in the first three seasons of the show.

Although Keeley left the show in 2004, it continued until 2011 and went on to feature such big-name stars as Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lara Pulver, Robert Glenister, and Hermione Norris.

She also ended up marrying her Spooks co-star, Matthew Macfadyen.

All 10 seasons of Spooks are available on BBC iPlayer and BritBox.

Tipping the Velvet - Kitty Butler (2002)

One of the first major roles we saw Keeley in was an adaptation of the Sarah Waters novel Tipping the Velvet.

Keeley played Kitty Butler and starred alongside Rachael Stirling as Nan Astley, telling the story of a lesbian love affair between two women in the 1890s.

Her character was a male impersonator music hall star and her performance was a hit with viewers and critics alike, under the guidance of screenwriting royalty Andrew Davies.

Tipping the Velvet is available to buy on Amazon Prime Video.