King Charles III, adapted by Mike Bartlett from his Tony-nominated stage play, is part political thriller, part family drama. An intriguing “What if?” story in the vein of Shakespeare’s histories, King Charles III imagines a version of Prince Charles who ascends to the throne after the death of Elizabeth II and decides to wield his power in an altogether different way. It’s not a royal-watchers, hats and babies spectacle; it’s more like House of Cards meets the House of Windsor. And now that you know what’s what, find out who’s who in King Charles III.
Tim Pigott-Smith is Prince Charles/King Charles III
The late Tim Pigott-Smith reprises his title role of King Charles III, this time for the small screen, after portraying the Prince-turned-King in the play’s lauded run from 2014’s Almeida Theatre debut to London’s West End to Broadway. MASTERPIECE viewers might best remember him from his indelible, award-winning performance in The Jewel in the Crown (1984), but it’s perhaps his deep experience as a leading stage actor in Shakespeare productions that makes his performance so electrifying. As writer Mike Bartlett said, “It did feel that this role was something special for him. He was exactly the same age as Prince Charles and like him, in a way, had been waiting for a role at some deep level for a while….He was a great man and a great actor, but this was also the great role for him.”
Oliver Chris is Prince William
Oliver Chris, as an original cast member of King Charles III, brings three years of experience working with his stage family to reprising his role as Prince William. MASTERPIECE viewers might remember him as Richard Truscott in Breathless (2014); he also appeared in Sharpe’s Challenge (2010) as well as many other British television dramas and series.
Charlotte Riley is Kate Middleton
Just as Kate Middleton was an outsider joining an insular, established family, so too was actress Charlotte Riley when, as King Charles III‘s only lead not previously involved in the play, she took the role of Kate Middleton. By all appearances, it’s worked out wonderfully for both! Back in 2009, it was in the MASTERPIECE Classic Wuthering Heights that Riley had her breakthrough role. (It was also where she met her now-husband, Tom Hardy!) Charlotte Riley currently stars in Peaky Blinders.
Richard Goulding is Prince Harry
Richard Goulding brings his Harry to the small screen after portraying the prince in the original stage production and throughout its run on Broadway. He’s been mistaken numerous times for the real Prince Harry in both England and the US and, because of his dyed-red hair, has also been mistaken for popstar singer/songwriter Ed Sheeran!
King Charles III, a special one-night television event, airs Sunday, May 14 at 9/8c. #KingCharlesPBS