Sophie Rundle, Sharon Rooney to star in ITV drama Brief Encounters

‘Downton’ & ‘My Mad Fat Diary’ stars among cast.

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Casting has been announced for new six-part ITV drama Brief Encounters.

Penelope Wilton (Downton Abbey), Sophie Rundle (Peaky Blinders), Angela Griffin (Lewis) and Sharon Rooney (My Mad Fat Diary) to star in the early ’80s set drama, created and written by Fay Rusling and Oriane Messina (Green Wing, Me & Mrs Jones) about four women striving to find happiness and fulfilment.

Peter Wight (The Paradise), Don Gilet (EastEnders), Karl Davies (Happy Valley), Ben Bailey Smith and Will Merrick (Skins) also star.

Sophie Rundle plays Steph, who feels invisible until Ann Summers party planning comes into her life.  It ignites the ambition she didn’t know she had and grows her confidence.  Married to Terry (Davies) and with a young son, Steph strives to make something extra of her life via new friendships and the excitement of this new career.

Penelope Wilton plays Pauline.  Pauline jumps in at the deep end when Steph, her cleaner, introduces her to the parties as a way to salve her loneliness. Pauline‘s sunny disposition hides a secret sadness. She and her husband, local butcher Brian (Wight) deeply love each other but their relationship has suffered whilst he’s concentrated on building his business.  Through her relationship with the Ann Summers girls, Pauline steps out from the shadows.

Angela Griffin plays Nita.  Nita and Steph have a chance meeting in the school playground that kick starts a sequence of events that will change both their lives.   Nita is a mix of grit and warmth, struggling to run a household with a husband (Gilet), whom she adores but who frequently strays onto the wrong side of the law, despite his devotion to his family.

Sharon Rooney stars as young hairdresser, Dawn who has a lust for life.  Although bubbly and outgoing, since her mother died she has been trapped, looking after her father and three brothers who all take her for granted. The buzz of earning serious cash with the other women gives her the incentive to finally realise her dreams with fiancé, Russell (Merrick), the butcher’s apprentice.

Executive Producer Arabella McGuigan commented: “We’re delighted to have on board such a wonderful, inspiring cast to bring Brief Encounters boldly to life. Our four central female characters, their associated menfolk, mothers and friends are strong, relatable, surprising and funny and they’ll leap off the page in the hands of our stars. We can’t wait to see the first results.”

Brief Encounters is produced by CPL Productions, and directed by Jill Robertson (Last Tango in Halifax), Marek Losey (Beowulf) and Joss Agnew (Mr Selfridge). Filming will begin at the end of January 2016 in Sheffield.