The Originals and Hustle stars among cast for new Channel 4 thriller

Susannah Alexander
·3-min read
Photo credit: Rodin Eckenroth - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rodin Eckenroth - Getty Images

The Originals star Maisie Richardson-Sellers, Hustle actor Adrian Lester and Star Trek's Simon Pegg have joined the cast of a brand new Channel 4 thriller series about the battle against a cyber attack.

Channel 4 and production company Peacock have commissioned six-part series The Undeclared War, which has been directed and co-written by multiple BAFTA winner Peter Kosminsky, who directed Wolf Hall and The State.

The Undeclared War is set in 2024, with post-pandemic Britain gearing up for a general election. The series will follow a leading team of analysts working in the heart of GCHQ as they fight to ward off a major cyber attack on the UK electoral system.

Photo credit: Rodin Eckenroth - Getty Images
Photo credit: Rodin Eckenroth - Getty Images

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Channel 4 has announced that Mission: Impossible star Simon Pegg will play GCHQ's Head of Operations, Danny Patrick, while The Trial of The Chicago 7 actor Mark Rylance is taking on the role of John Yeabsley, a Cold War veteran who comes out of retirement to help combat the heightened threat level.

Richardson-Sellers, who played Rebekah Mikaelson / Eva Sinclair in The Originals, is playing American cyber-analyst Kathy Freeman, who is on attachment from the US National Security Agency.

Hustle and Mary Queen of Scots star Adrian Lester has been cast as Andrew Makinde, the UK's first Black Conservative Prime Minister, while The Crown actor Alex Jennings is playing the Head of GCHQ, David Neal.

Newcomer Hannah Khalique-Brown is also among the cast as Saara Parvan, a work experience student undertaking a placement in the GCHQ Malware Department.

Photo credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic - Getty Images
Photo credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic - Getty Images

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All six episodes of the series will be directed by Kosminsky, who has also written four of the episodes, while The Salisbury Poisonings writers Declan Lawn and Adam Patterson and Dead Birds scriptwriter Amelia Spencer will also write for the show.

Kosminsky and his team have undertaken a three-year research process for the series, getting access to the cyber security industry in the UK and the US to build a picture of the threat in the drama.

Explaining his decision to tackle the subject, Kosminsky said: "The series is based deep within the least-known arm of the UK's intelligence infrastructure, GCHQ.

"The story we're now able to tell casts an extraordinary, revelatory light on the hot, undeclared war taking place right now in the world's newest and most invisible domain of conflict – cyber."

Photo credit: BAFTA - BBC
Photo credit: BAFTA - BBC

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Caroline Hollick, Head of Channel 4 Drama, added: "Peter Kosminsky is a titan of British television drama, and it's a privilege to have this ground-breaking thriller on Channel 4 – it's a truly momentous series which will change the way we see the world around us.

"I'm also delighted to have such stellar names in the cast, as well as the chance to break brand-new on-screen talent."

The Undeclared War will air on Channel 4.

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