Meet the cast starring alongside Poldark’s Aidan Turner and David Tennant in the TV adaptation of Jilly Cooper’s raunchy novel Rivals

Alex Hassell as Rupert Campbell-Black in Jilly Cooper's Rivals on Disney+

by Arabella Horspool |
Published on

Fans ofJilly Cooper's Rivals are in for a treat, as the show oozes sex, betrayal and excess. Initially published in 1988, the book is part of her popular Rutshire Chronicles series which delves into the competitive and scandalous world of British television and the upper classes.

The new TV drama adaptation follows the same central storyline as the raunchy novel, focusing on the fierce rivalry between Rupert Campbell-Black and Declan O'Hara over control of Corinium Television.

Revealing the news of the show, Disney+ said, “Rivals is a joyously mischievous rollercoaster ride, steamy in its love stories and packed with larger-than-life characters. Yet beneath the spectacle and fun, the series brings a 2020s lens to the 1980s, offering a raw exploration of a complicated moment in British history when class, race, sex, wealth and sexual liberation meant that, for the very privileged few, there were no limits to what they could achieve.”


Rivals Disney+ synopsis

Here's the official synopsis: "Set in affluent 1980s England where two powerful men and neighbours – Olympian turned politician Rupert Campbell-Black and television exec Tony Baddingham – have a longstanding rivalry that finally comes to a head. As tensions rise and rivalries deepen, there are spilled secrets, forged alliances, and snatched liaisons that draw wives, lovers, colleagues, friends, and families into their battle."

Rivals Disney+ cast

Jilly Cooper's Rivals story is filled with an array of colourful characters, including:

  • Alex Hassell plays Rupert Campbell-Black: A dangerously charismatic dashing ex-Olympian, Tory Member of Parliament, and incorrigible rake.

  • David Tennant as Lord Tony Baddingham: Rupert's neighbour in Rutshire who is the single-mindedly ambitious and egotistical controller of Corinium Television. They have a long-simmering power struggle between them which threatens to boil over.

  • Aidan Turner plays Declan O'Hara: An Irishman and presenter with a fierce temper vendetta against Rupert and a passion for television.

  • Danny Dyer is Freddie Jones: A loyal an honourable social climber that's a bit of an outsider after he became a self-made electronics millionaire.

  • Nafessa Williams plays Cameron Cook: A principled and talented American television producer that's brought over to produce the show.


Other cast members include:

• Katherine Parkinson (who you might recognise from Doc Martin) as Lizzie Vereker

 •Emily Atack (comedian and actress) as Sarah Stratton

• Luke Pasqualino (Our Girl actor) as Basil Baddingham

• Victoria Smurfit (Bloodlands, Marcella) as Maud O'Hara

• Oliver Chris (from Motherland and Trying) as James Vereker

• Lisa McGrillis (from Avoidance, Mum, Maternal) as Valerie Jones

• Claire Rushbrook (from the shows Sherwood and Whitechapel) as Lady Monica Baddingham

• Annabel Scholey (The Split, The Sixth Commandment) as Beattie Johnson

• Lara Peake as Daysee Butler

• Bella Maclean plays Taggie O'Hara

• Catriona Chandler as Caitlin O'Hara

• Maggie Steed as Lady Gosling

• David Calder as Fergus Penney

• Hubert Burton as Gerald Middleton

• Rufus Jones as Paul Stratton

Although Jilly Cooper disliked the mini-series of Riders back in 1993, she told us, “But this (series) is so brilliant."

She commented on the casting, saying, "I’m utterly enchanted to be able to announce our all-star line-up for Rivals. Featuring some of the best acting talent that the British Isles has to offer, I couldn’t have dreamed of a better ensemble cast. I cannot wait to be on set and see them bring the characters I love so much to life.

"The minute we met with Alex we knew he’d perfectly embody my all-time hero, the iconic, racy, ruthless, and devastatingly handsome, Rupert Campbell-Black. Viewers are in for a treat."


Rivals release date

Currently, the release date for the Rivals TV series is unknown, but hopefully it will be announced soon, along with a trailer!

The book:

Jilly Cooper RivalsbookAmazon
Price: $26.22

Being the second book in the Rutshire Chronicles, Rivals centres around the fierce competition between two television networks in the fictional county. The novel is known for its wit, humour, and insight into the world of media, as well as its depiction of romantic entanglements, power struggles, and personal vendettas.

Arabella Horspool is a Commercial Content Writer for Yours at Bauer Media. She's a bookworm who is passionate about TV and film. She enjoys cooking, scrapbooking and spending time with her pets.

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