Get to Know the Cast of Magpie Murders
Actors Lesley Manville and Tim McMullan have the featured roles in Magpie Murders on MASTERPIECE on PBS but are surrounded by a large and talented cast. We’ve zeroed in on a handful of key actors to reveal what they think about their character(s), where you’ve seen them before, and a more personal detail about each. From a one-time roadie for the band Queen to someone raised by a crime fiction writer, and perhaps “the next Colin Firth,” you’ll be delighted to discover more.
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Lesley Manville as Susan Ryeland
Her Character: Magpie Murders revolves around Manville’s character Susan Ryeland, a book editor who reluctantly takes on the role of amateur sleuth. Ryeland is unconventional, a free spirit who makes her own rules about living life.
On the Role: “I play a lot of characters in my career who are sometimes quite a long way away from me [personally]…and I like that,” Manville tells MASTERPIECE. “But sometimes I sort of hanker to play something that’s a little bit closer to home and Susan feels like that. [This role] is taxing another side of my acting branches if you like. It’s refreshing and nice for me.”
Interesting Fact: Like her character in Magpie Murders, Manville is passionate about her career. As such, she’s advocated for her industry to offer as many acting roles to women over 45 as it does men. Manville signed the Acting Your Age Campaign’s petition along with fellow British actors Keeley Hawes (The Durrells in Corfu) and David Tennant (Around the World in 80 Days). “I want people to see older women as interesting, vibrant, with stories to tell. Not just appendages,” she tells the MASTERPIECE Studio podcast.
Where You’ve Seen Her: You may recognize Manville from her TV roles in series like World on Fire on MASTERPIECE and in season five of The Crown as Princess Margaret, and films including Mrs. Harris Goes to Paris. She’s received an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of the elegant Cyril Woodcock in 2017’s Phantom Thread alongside Daniel Day-Lewis.
Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd
His Character: Atticus Pünd is the beguiling and clever 1950s detective featured in Alan Conway’s fictional novels. He’s a compassionate gentleman; a German refugee of Greek-Jewish descent who survived the concentration camps.
On the Role: Pünd is reminiscent of other great detectives from literature but McMullan strove to make him unique. “I thought, playing a German, I want to make him very soft-voiced and un-Germanic,” the actor tells The New York Times. “A gentle character who has been in a labor camp and has a very empathetic perspective on the human condition.”
Interesting Fact: Magpie Murders’ author and executive producer Anthony Horowitz first encountered McMullan as he wrote episodes of the MASTERPIECE WWII detective series, Foyle’s War. “Tim was superb as [Arthur] Valentine and brought this really interesting spy I’d created to life, and so I was very happy when he was able to step in and take the part [of Atticus Pünd].”
Where You’ve Seen Him: McMullan studied at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and his stage credits (beyond Shakespeare) include Man and Superman and The Cherry Orchard. His screen credits include hit films like The Queen and Shakespeare in Love (fittingly), TV shows such as The Crown and Patrick Melrose, and roles in MASTERPIECE series from Grantchester to Endeavour and Foyle’s War.
Conleth Hill as Alan Conway
His Character: Conway is the author of popular mystery novels featuring private eye Atticus Pünd. The writer is a prickly fellow who’s not above turning people from his real life into caricatures of themselves in his stories.
Interesting Fact: Hill and his brother both worked on Game of Thrones together. Sibling Ronan Hill is a sound engineer who’s won several Emmy Awards for his sound mixing on the fantasy drama series.
Where You’ve Seen Him: Conway’s TV credits include playing Mendel Liberman in PBS’s Vienna Blood, the bald eunuch Lord Varys in Game of Thrones, and lawyer Edward Darby in Suits. His stage career has been rewarded with two Laurence Olivier Awards for excellence in London theater as well as two Tony Award nominations.
Michael Maloney as Charles Clover
His Character: Charles Clover is the head of the small publishing house Clover Books. In fact, he’s in negotiations to sell the company and use his bit of the buy-out to begin retirement and enjoy his grandkids.
Interesting Fact: Maloney left school at age 16 and worked as a stagehand at the New Theatre in Oxford. His very first task there was gathering all the equipment for the rock band, Queen and then serving as a bouncer during their concert.
Where You’ve Seen Him: Maloney has had roles in many a British TV series, from a character in Season 3 of All Creatures Great and Small on MASTERPIECE to Midsomer Murders, and The Crown. His film credits include The Young Victoria and Kenneth Branagh’s adaptation of Henry V.
Alexandros Logothetis as Andreas Patakis
His Character: Patakis is a dissatisfied classics teacher as well as Susan Ryeland’s thoughtful boyfriend. He and author Alan Conway were once instructors at the same private school.
Interesting Fact: His father is the known Greek actor Helias Logothetis and his mother the crime fiction author Eftychia Kalliteraki. The parents were divorced when Alexandros was a child, and he was raised by his mom. He tells Greek City Times that “the reason I became an actor was that I wanted to be closer to my father.”
Where You’ve Seen Him: Logothetis’s television credits include Season 2 of The Durrells in Corfu on MASTERPIECE and the series The Island.
Claire Rushbrook as Katie
Her Character: Katie is Susan Ryeland’s go-to sister. Quite unlike Susan, Katie is married with kids and living in the countryside. There is both tension and familiarity between the siblings.
Interesting Fact: Rushbrook and Lesley Manville also portray on-screen sisters in the BBC series Sherwood. “We met [on the set of Magpie Murders], we fell in love. It was friendship at first sight,” Manville tells Trip Wire Magazine. “When Sherwood came along and they said that Claire’s going to play my sister, it was just perfect.”
Where You’ve Seen Her: Rushbrook’s TV credits include portraying the meek Pat Simms in two seasons of Home Fires, Mrs. Joe in Great Expectations, and Karen Donnelly in Collision, all on MASTERPIECE. She’s also known for her work in the series, Whitechapel. Rushbrook has appeared in films including Enola Holmes, Spice World, and Secrets & Lies alongside Leslie Manville.
Daniel Mays as DI Chubb and DS Locke
His Characters: Detective Inspector Chubb is the Saxby-on-Avon policeman in Alan Conway’s novel. Detective Superintendent Locke is his modern-day counterpart who clashes with Susan Ryeland over investigating Alan Conway’s death.
Interesting Fact: Mays is gaga for the British indie rock band Feeder. In fact, he appears in their music video for the song Idaho, donning a Lone Ranger costume in the bathroom of a bar and emerging to ride its mechanical bull.
Where You’ve Seen Him: Mays has played other coppers on TV: DCI Peter Jay in Des and Sergeant Dany Waldron in Line of Duty. He was also in the cast of Good Omens alongside David Tennant (Around the World in 80 Days). His film credits include portraying the human informant Tivik in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Matthew Beard as James Fraser and James Taylor
His Characters: Fraser is Atticus Pund’s devoted junior assistant in Alan Conway’s novel. James Taylor is Alan Conway’s mop-haired young boyfriend who’s on his way out.
Interesting Fact: In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, the young actor confirms his breakout role was in the British film “And When Did You Last See Your Father?” at age 17 because a casting agent was searching for “a young Colin Firth. … That changed everything,” says Beard.
Where You’ve Seen Him: Beard has already had roles in two Oscar-nominated films. He played the shy schoolmate Graham to Carey Mulligan’s Jenny in 2009’s An Education as well as mathematician Peter Hilton in 2014’s The Imitation Game with Benedict Cumberbatch. He’s been nominated twice for Most Promising Newcomer awards in the UK. Beard’s TV credits include PBS’s Vienna Blood and Avenue 5.