BBC's Roadkill starring Hugh Laurie promises to have viewers hooked

The new Line of Duty? Director’s next political drama Roadkill starring Hugh Laurie as a power-hungry Tory minister with a complicated personal life promises to have viewers hooked

  • Sunday nights are set to be given a fresh dose of political drama with Roadkill
  • Four-part BBC1 series, helmed by Line of Duty director, stars Hugh Laurie 
  • He plays a power-hungry Conservative minister with a complicated personal life
  • Peaky Blinders actress Helen McCrory appears as the Prime Minister

Sunday nights are set to be given a fresh dose of political drama with BBC’s Roadkill.

The four-part series, helmed by Line of Duty director Michael Keillor and written by David Ware, stars Hugh Laurie as self-made charismatic politician Peter Laurence, a Conservative cabinet minister who dreams of holding one of the grand offices of state.

The first episode, which airs on Sunday, starts with Transport Minister Laurence on the verge of a promotion in Prime Minister Dawn Ellison’s (Helen McCrory) cabinet reshuffle, and on a high after a win in a newspaper libel case. 

Pippa Bennett-Warner plays his high-flying defence barrister. 

However it soon becomes clear that Laurence’s complicated private life threatens to undermine his political ambitions. An inmate at a women’s prison claims to have a secret about the politician’s past that could affect his future.

Here, FEMAIL reveals everything you need to know ahead of the premiere…

THE POWER-HUNGRY TORY MINISTER  

Political drama: Roadkill, helmed by Line of Duty director Michael Keillor, stars Hugh Laurie as self-made charismatic politician Peter Laurence, pictured, a Conservative cabinet minister who dreams of holding one of the grand offices of state

Public undoing: It soon becomes clear that Laurence’s complicated private life threatens to undermine his political ambitions. Pictured, Laurence following his libel case win

Hugh Laurie won a Golden Globe for his stunning performance as arms dealer Dicky Roper in 2016 BBC thriller The Night Manager, so expect him to engross us once more as Peter Laurence. 

He begins the story at mid-cabinet level as Transport Secretary and has ambitions to move up the greasy pole. He has also taken the unusual step of suing a newspaper in a libel case.

Laurie said of the role: ‘The show is in some regards about the price he is prepared to pay to get to the top position and the price that he forces everyone else to pay, principally his family, but also those who pledge their loyalty to him.

‘He is a man who is relatively free of the gravity of guilt and whose life mission is to keep moving forward and not to look back.’

He continued: ‘He has a complicated life. His job demands a certain degree of loyalty to the Prime Minister, but he has a long and stable marriage to his wife Helen, played by Saskia Reeves, and they have a genuine fondness for each other and a genuine pride in their two daughters.

‘They are childhood sweethearts and have taken quite a journey together. It subsequently turns out that Peter is also carrying on a liaison with another woman whose life was in a state of desperation until he extended a hand of friendship and support which turned into something romantic.’

THE NO-NONSENSE PRIME MINISTER 

Unscrupulous: Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory plays Dawn Ellison, the Prime Minister and head of the Conservative party. Like Laurence, she is popular and highly ambitious

Peaky Blinders star Helen McCrory plays Dawn Ellison, the Prime Minister and head of the Conservative party. In the first episode she chastises Laurence for his libel case, and asks for his assurance that he won’t resort to the courts again. 

Like Laurence, Ellison is popular, highly ambitious and without scruples. However she doesn’t recognise the threat he poses. 

McCrory said on the character: ‘Dawn’s problem with Peter is that she doesn’t recognise him, and because she doesn’t recognise him, she doesn’t realise how dangerous he is… What she doesn’t realise is how many supporters he has.’

She continued: ‘I don’t know how much power Dawn has, but I had a lot of fun throwing my toys around in the pram because that’s more where I think Dawn is – I don’t think she is a huge threat to politics.’ 

Ellison enjoys a close relationship with her Private Secretary, Julia (Olivia Vinall). 

‘Julia is Dawn’s right-hand woman,’ McCrory explained. ‘She is much younger than Dawn, which is interesting because when I first read it I thought she was senior to Dawn.

‘I like the way it has been cast, I think it adds another element that obviously Dawn is trying to keep her finger on the pulse. I think she has promoted and supported Julia and brought her into the inner sanctum. She’s almost like a daughter figure.’

THE HIGH-FLYING BARRISTER

High-flyer: Harlots and Gangs of London star Pippa Bennett-Warner appears in Roadkill as barrister Rochelle Madeley, who represents Laurence in his libel case

Harlots and Gangs of London star Pippa Bennett-Warner appears in Roadkill as high-flying barrister Rochelle Madeley, who represents Laurence in his libel case. 

Over the course of the series she ‘goes on a journey’ of discovering what is more important than her high-flying legal career and faces questions of what is morally just. 

She ends up receiving information from another character and by the end of the show has a very different relationship with Laurence than the one she started with. 

Speaking on the character, Bennett-Warner said: ‘To her, Peter is just another minister. She’s used to dealing with these kinds of people and this kind of behaviour. 

‘She may not be aligned with him politically, but she doesn’t get emotionally attached to anything – she’s very much just doing her job. She is probably used to defending people who she thinks are guilty and she sees it as a bit of a challenge because she likes to win. It’s all about winning for Rochelle.’

THE MINISTER’S RIGHT-HAND MAN

Right-hand man: Actor Iain De Caestecker, best known for Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., plays Duncan Knock, Special Adviser to Peter Laurence. Pictured, at Downing St

Actor Iain De Caestecker, best known for Marvel TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., plays Duncan Knock, Special Adviser to Peter Laurence. 

Knock attended grammar school and has worked his way up to the trusted position of the minister’s right-hand man. 

De Caestecker said: ‘A big part of his identity now is merged with Peter, as he’s his political adviser. Whilst their relationship is predominantly professional, it’s still a very close relationship.

‘Duncan is ambitious and he’s married to his job; it definitely occupies a lot of space in his mind, so I think a huge part of his identity is what he does. Being a special advisor is kind of a bit of a controversial role as they work within a governing party, and although they aren’t actually voted in by the public, they are politically motivated and do have a political agenda. 

‘So he’s probably worked his way up with Peter the past few years and he knows where the bodies are buried, but he’s also complicit in that. He sees Peter as his ticket to the top as well. As much as I think he admires Peter in a big way and looks up to him, he’s got his eyes on his own prize as well.’

THE PM’S TRUSTED ADVISER

Prime Minister’s gatekeeper: Olivia Vinall, who previously appeared in Apple Tree Yard, appears alongside Helen McCrory as Julia Blythe, the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary

Olivia Vinall, who previously appeared in Apple Tree Yard, appears alongside Helen McCrory as Julia Blythe, the Prime Minister’s Private Secretary. 

Speaking on the role, Vinall said: ‘She is described by Dawn as her gatekeeper. Julia is her eyes and ears – nothing gets past her, and their relationship is close and trusting. They have a lot in common in that their careers are the most important thing in both their lives.’

She also hinted at a relationship with Knock, saying: ‘Duncan is Special Adviser to Peter Lawrence, Minister for Transport, so he’s in the same kind of role as Julia. 

‘They’re both young and highly ambitious, and while they encourage each other there’s also a sense of rivalry between them. 

‘Their relationship provides a release from the pressures they face or one another, though I wouldn’t say it’s the same for both parties…’

Roadkill premieres on Sunday at 9pm on BBC1 

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