What happened to BBC's 55 Degrees North cast? EastEnders killer, voice of M&S adverts and Star Wars

DON GILET as Nicky and DERVLA KERWIN as Claire in 55 Degrees North
DON GILET as Nicky and DERVLA KERWIN as Claire in 55 Degrees North -Credit:BBC

It's been close to 20 years since Newcastle set BBC drama 55 Degrees North made its debut, with the broadcaster hoping that the crime show would prove to be a big ratings winner. And, while it was axed after just two series some of its cast are still very much in the spotlight.

It was back in the summer of 2004 that 55 Degrees North, sharing its name with a famous roundabout and apartment complex in the city centre made a rather hyped up debut on BBC One, with its launch attracting an audience of over five million, as the action was centered on fictional force Tyneside Police.

The building used as police HQ was in fact just over the other side of the river - HMS Calliope, a Royal Navy Reserve training centre on the banks of the Tyne in Gateshead. The main protagonist in 55 Degrees North's plot was Don Gilet as DS Nicky Cole, who was given the boot to the North East, after blowing the whistle on a senior police officer guilty of corruption in London.

READ MORE: ITV Vera viewers call out drama over 'impossible' Newcastle error in latest episode

DS Cole immediately became frustrated at being resigned to the night shift and his life got a bit more complicated thanks to Dervla Kirwan' character, pregnant solicitor Claire Maxwell. The relationship encountered a few twists and turns over the course of 55 Degrees North's two series, with the final episode airing in June 2005, to an audience of around three million.

While, unlike ITV hit Vera, 55 Degrees North didn't run for years and years, like Vera it featured plenty of famous locations, with one episode seeing DS Cole take his family to Holy Island.

What happened to 55 Degrees North cast after BBC drama ended?

Don Gilet - DS Nicky Cole

After being a good guy in 55 Degrees North, Don pulled the wool over everyone's eyes when he starred as villainous but charming priest Lucas Johnson, who ended up being one of Albert Square's most prolific serial killers - murdering ex Trina and wife Denise's ex Owen, before kidnapping Denise and making her own family believe she was responsible for the deaths, going onto murder another woman to make it look like Denise had committed suicide.

Don as Lucas Johnson in EastEnders

Lucas was eventually jailed after Denise exposed his crimes, before Don made a shock return to EastEnders six years later, when Lucas escaped from prison. Lucas made another comeback in 2020, but, after trying to corrupt daughter Chelsea into a life of crime, ended up behind bars again.

As well as numerous stints in EastEnders, Don has appeared in Death on the Tyne, Holby City and Netflix smash The Stranger. Most recently he had a role in BBC's Rebel Cheer Squad.

Dervla Kiran - Claire Maxwell

Already an established actress by the rime 55 Degrees North came calling, Dervla had appeared in the likes of Ballykissangel and Goodnight Sweetheart for the BBC, before becoming solicitor Claire on Tyneside.

The now 51-year-old has remained a big presence on TV and since 55 Degrees wrapped in 2005, playing villain Miss Mercy Hartigan in the 2008 Doctor Who Christmas special and sticking with the BBC to appear in Material Girl and The Silence.

Dervla in Netflix's The Stranger
-Credit:Shared Content Unit

In 2019 she appeared in BBC's long running thriller Silent Witness, before joining Don in the cast of The Stranger on Netflix.

As well as having a prolific stage career, with roles in shows including King Lear, Dervla's voice became famous across the land for her iconic 'this is now just food' line in Marks & Spencer's adverts.

In 2007, Dervla married another well known TV star, Spooks, Silk and Our House actor Rupert Penry Jones, after meeting him in 2001, when they both appeared in the same theatre show. They have two children together.

Tony Dunn - Sergeant Rick Astel

Prior to being in 55 Degrees North, Tony, who was brought up in North Shields, was best known for playing Tony, Victoria Wood's lovable romantic interest in BBC sitcom Dinnerladies.

Tony Dunn in Doctors
-Credit:TV Grab

He has also been the love interest of Coronation Street's Janice Battersby, before character Roger Stiles was axed from the ITV soap in 2008. A very versatile actor, Tony has played Alistair Campbell in Bremner, Burd and Fortune and, after appearing in Doctors, toured the UK as Gerald in the stage adaptation of The Full Monty.

Emma Cleasby - Sergeant Katherine Brookes

Cumbrian actress Emma went straight from 55 Degrees North to playing Sylvia Ramsden in Coronation Street, before recurring roles in ITV's Lewis, Holby City and daytime soap Doctors.

Darren Morfitt - DS Patrick Yates

After landing his first TV role in Sky football drama Dream Team and starring in Dalziel & Pascoe, Darren played DS Yates in oth series of 55 Degrees North.

Sticking with BBC crime dramas, he played Billy in Line of Duty for three episodes in 2012 and, has also been in Inspector George Gently, Casualty, Holby City and The Split.

Mark Lewis Jones - Detective Inspector Russell Bing

Mark played outspoken DI Bing 55 Degrees North and then swapped the small screen for the big screen, to play a whaler in the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, soldier Tecton in Troy, before landing a dream role in Star Wars film The Last Jedi.

Sign up to get the latest TV and showbiz news straight to your inbox with the Chronicle TV and celebs newsletter. If you can't see the form below, click HERE


*BBC's Happy Valley ending divides viewers as death confirmed in final seconds

*How did Happy Valley end? BBC drama wraps with 'last second' death as one text changes everything

*ITV Vera viewers call out drama over 'impossible' Newcastle error in latest episode

*Dancing on Ice result sees Ekin-Su exit after injury blow and telling off camera remark