Sherwood: Lesley Manville and David Morrissey lead the cast of new BBC crime drama from Quiz creator James Graham

Set in the Nottinghamshire mining village where James Graham grew up, two shocking and unexpected killings shatter an already fractured community and spark a massive manhunt.

By Sophia Moir Updated: 15 June 2022 - 11.45am
BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire Sherwood BBC One first look

Award-winning writer James Graham (Quiz, Brexit: An Uncivil War) has drawn on his own experiences growing up in post-industrial Nottinghamshire for a brand new crime drama which is arguably his most personal project to date.

Inspired in part by real events, Sherwood boasts an all-star cast including David Morrissey, Lesley Manville and Joanne Froggatt, is airing now on BBC One.

Sherwood is not only a compelling crime drama about two shocking killings, but it explores the controversial deployment of so-called ‘spycops’, and highlights the struggles of a community forced to re-examine terrible events of decades ago.

Here, we reveal everything we know so far about Sherwood, including the confirmed release date, plot, cast list, trailer, and more.

Sherwood review: Is it the best British dramas of the year so far?

Sherwood: Who are the cast and characters?

What is the Sherwood release date?

Sherwood starts on Monday 13 June on BBC One and iPlayer. Episodes will air on Mondays and Tuesdays at 9pm across three weeks.

How many episodes of Sherwood are there?

There are six episodes of Sherwood on BBC One. The final episode will air on Tuesday 28 June.

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What’s the plot of Sherwood? 

Set in 2014 in the Nottinghamshire mining village of Ashfield where the show's creator James Graham grew up, at the heart of Sherwood lie two shocking and unexpected killings that shatter an already fractured community and spark a massive manhunt. 

As suspicion and antipathy build - both between lifelong neighbours and towards the police forces who descend on the town - the tragic killings threaten to inflame historic divisions sparked during the miners' strike three decades earlier.

To solve the murders, police inspectors Ian St Clair, from the local constabulary, and Kevin Salisbury, from the Met, must reunite and bury a rivalry that stretches back to 1984 in an attempt to heal wounds and catch a killer.

But can a community repair itself as more is discovered about those who live there, and whether they really are who they say they are?

Is Sherwood a true story?

No, Sherwood is not a true story, but it is inspired in part by James Graham’s life growing up in post-industrial Nottinghamshire, and is loosely based on the true story of two unconnected murders in the Sherwood Forest area in 2004.

Speaking about writing Sherwood for the BBC, James Graham says: "It means the world to have this opportunity to bring the voices of a community I grew up in to BBC One. 

“So much is spoken about the divisions and difficulties in these 'Red Wall' towns, but they're not always understood. I feel so honoured to be able to tell a fictionalised story about a very real trauma, but with the humour and heart and resilience of the people I know and love there."

James Graham Sherwood headshot BBC Media Centre
Sherwood is inspired in part by James Graham’s life growing up in post-industrial Nottinghamshire

Who’s in the cast of Sherwood?

David Morrissey leads the all-star cast of Sherwood that includes Lesley Manville, Robert Glenister, Joanne Froggatt, Alun Armstrong, Adeel Akhtar, Claire Rushbrook, Kevin Doyle, Lorraine Ashbourne, Phillip Jackson, Perry Fitzpatrick, Adam Hugill and Stephen Tompkinson.

Discover more about the cast and characters of Sherwood below.

David Morrissey - DCS Ian St Clair

Sherwood David Morrissey BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire
Clare Holman and David Morrissey in Sherwood

David Morrissey (Red Riding, Britannia, The Missing, State Of Play, The Walking Dead) plays Detective Chief Superintendent Ian St Clair, a lifer in the Nottinghamshire constabulary who has risen through the ranks to the upper echelons. Canny and a good judge of character, he is a formidable and empathetic detective with an impressive track record to prove it. 

When he is tasked with finding the link between the two killings, he is forced to reunite with DI Kevin Salisbury (Robert Glenister), an old rival from the Metropolitan Police, whose return to the town heightens the already febrile tensions running through the community.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Morrissey says he grew up with memories of the miners' strikes, and joined several marches. He said: “You were on the side of the striking miners. You were against the government. That was it for everyone I knew."

Clare Holman (The Little Drummer Girl, The Crown, Silent Witness) plays Ian's wife, Helen St Clair.

Robert Glenister - DI Kevin Salisbury 

Sherwood Kevin Salisbury played by ROBERT GLENISTER BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire

Robert Glenister (Hustle, Spooks, Law & Order UK) plays Detective Inspector Kevin Salisbury, from the Metropolitan Police, who has little desire to return to Ashfield. There are too many reminders of what happened in 1984, and he’s unlikely to get the warmest of welcomes from the local police force nor the local community. But he has orders to follow, and he’s determined to prove that he stands for honour and integrity.

Alun Armstrong - Gary Jackson

Sherwood Gary Jackson ALUN ARMSTRONG BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire

Alun Armstrong (Breeders, Year Of The Rabbit, Frontier, New Tricks) plays Gary Jackson, a committed National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) member and one of the few miners from Ashfield to stand on the picket line in the 1980s. He won’t let anyone forget it, even decades later, which sets him at odds with his neighbours. 

Lesley Manville - Julie Jackson

Lesley Manville Sherwood BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire

Lesley Manville (Phantom Thread, Harlots, Mum, Save Me Too) plays Julie Jackson, the wife of Alun Armstrong’s character, Gary Jackson). She’s estranged from her sister Cathy (Claire Rushbrook) over their divided loyalties during the miners’ strike, is as stubborn as her husband, but fiercely proud of the warm household she has created for her family.

According to the Financial Times, Julie’s decades-long split with her sister is rooted in fact, as director Lewis Arnold met a man who refused to speak to his strikebreaking brother even until his death.

Philip Jackson - Mickey Sparrow 

Sherwood Mickey Sparrow as PHILLIP JACKSON and Daphne Sparrow as LORRAINE ASHBOURNE BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire
Philip Jackson as Mickey Sparrow and Lorraine Ashborne as Daphne Sparrow

Philip Jackson (Brassed Off, Raised By Wolves, My Week with Marilyn, Poirot) plays Mickey Sparrow, an entrepreneur, proud of his portfolio which includes an axe throwing range and taxi firm. However, as much of the town suspects, most of his income comes from other, less-legal means. So, when suspicion points to the Sparrow family, Mickey’s empire comes under threat. 

Lorraine Ashbourne - Daphne Sparrow

Lorraine Ashbourne (Bridgerton, The Crown, I Hate Suzie, Alma’s Not Normal, Unforgotten) plays Daphne Sparrow, the matriarch of the Sparrow family. Forthright and fearless, she will do whatever it takes to protect her family. When everything and everyone she holds dear comes under threat, it becomes apparent just how far Daphne will go for her family, including her son, Rory (Perry Fitzpatrick).

Perry Fitzpatrick - Rory Sparrow

Sherwood Perry Fitzpatrick as Rory Sparrow BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire

Perry Fitzpatrick (Line Of Duty, This Is England 90, Man Like Mobeen) plays Rory Sparrow, the son of Mickey and Daphne. 

Claire Rushbrook - Cathy Rowley

Lesley Manville as Julie Jackson and Claire Rushbrook as Cathy Rowley in Sherwood BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire
Lesley Manville as Julie Jackson and Claire Rushbrook as Cathy Rowley in Sherwood

Claire Rushbrook (Genius: Einstein, Don’t Forget The Driver, Enola Holmes) plays Cathy Rowley, who has always lived slightly in her sister Julie’s shadow. The miners’ strike tore the pair apart when Cathy fell in love with miner Fred Rowley (Kevin Doyle), who, as a member of the breakaway Union of Democratic Mineworkers (UDM) continued to work while NUM members striked.

Her relationship with her introverted and deeply private stepson Scott (Adam Hugill - The Watch, 1917) is also strained. But when tragedy strikes close to home, Cathy is forced to reckon with the woman she has become, and the dark secrets that have been hidden behind closed doors.

Kevin Doyle - Fred Rowley

Sherwood Kevin Doyle as Fred Rowley BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire

Kevin Doyle (Downton Abbey, Happy Valley, Scott & Bailey) plays Fred Rowley, a quiet and reserved man, and a working miner and member of the breakaway UDM. Doyle will reunite with his former Downton Abbey co-star Joanne Froggatt in Sherwood.

Adeel Akhtar - Andy Fisher 

Sherwood Andy Fisher ADEEL AKHTAR BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire

Adeel Akhtar (Murdered By My Father, Sweet Tooth, Utopia) plays train driver Andy Fisher, a delicate and shy man who lost his wife years ago and has struggled to cope with that loss ever since. He leans on his son Neel (Bally Gill - Wanderlust, Romeo & Juliet, NW) for emotional support, and though Neel is much obliging, Andy feels like he’s losing him to his son’s fiancée Sarah.

Joanne Froggatt - Sarah Vincent

Sherwood Joanne Froggatt BBC/House Productions/Matt Squire

Joanne Froggatt (Downton Abbey, Liar, Angela Black) plays Sarah, an ambitious Tory councillor and the fiancée of Andy’s son Neel. Sarah struggles to hide how uncomfortable she is in her soon-to-be father-in-law’s company. 

Who created Sherwood?

James Graham has written all six parts of Sherwood and will be an executive producer on the series. Graham is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter.

Graham’s stage highlights include This House, Ink, Labour of Love, and Quiz, which he adapted into a three-part drama for ITV starring Matthew Macfadyen

He also wrote Brexit: An Uncivil War for Channel 4, which starred Benedict Cumberbatch, as well as season 3, episode 6 of The Crown, entitled Tywysog Cymru, about Prince Charles's time learning Welsh at Aberystwyth University.

Lewis Arnold (Time, Des) is lead director and executive producer on Sherwood, and the producer is Rebecca Hodgson (The Irregulars, Deep Water).

Is there a trailer for Sherwood?

Yes, you can watch the first-look trailer for Sherwood below:

Watch Sherwood if you liked…

Quiz, Des, Time, Manhunt, A Confession, Broadchurch, Unforgotten.

 

Sherwood starts on Monday 13 June on BBC One and iPlayer.