Lennie James inhabits almost every single scene in Sky Atlantic’s fantastically gripping and tense new crime drama Save Me. That’s one of the perks of writing and co-producing your own series as an actor – you can put yourself centre stage as often as you like.
That’s not to say that there’s anything self-indulgent about The Walking Dead and Line of Duty man’s writing or acting here, though. This powerful series manages to retain its dramatic tension constantly, while never submitting to the temptation of schlocky set pieces or melodrama. And, crucially, never looking like a vanity project of James’.
Perhaps the most outstanding aspect about Save Me is its script. Careful not to slip into kitchen sink cliches and working class stereotypes, it remains believable throughout and never once condescends to the characters of its Lewisham council estate setting.
Speaking of characters, if you’re yet to dip into the show on Sky Atlantic yet or if you’ve started and just want a recap of who’s who, here’s our guide to the Save Me cast and characters…
(We promise no spoilers, either!)
Who’s who in the Save Me cast:
Nelson ‘Nelly’ Rowe (Lennie James)
An ageing lothario, wide boy and lovable rogue, Nelly shirks responsibility where he can and lives a ducking and diving lifestyle. But when his estranged daughter goes missing, he realises that it’s his big chance to atone for his past sins and selfishness and finally do what’s right.
Claire McGory (Suranne Jones)
Nelly’s ex and mother to missing girl, Jody. A strong and smart woman, she’s now ‘happily’ married to someone else and living a comfortable suburban life out in Surbiton. Unlike a few others, Claire is prepared to welcome Nelly back into the fold if it can help track their daughter down.
Barry McGory (Barry Ward)
A flash Irish music exec, Barry is Jody’s adoptive father and Claire’s husband. It’s safe to say that there’s no love lost between him and Nelly. We soon find out that Barry may have some pretty monumental money worries…
BJ McGory (Phil Dunster)
Son to Barry and stepson to Claire, BJ is privately educated, works for his dad and isn’t averse to striking the odd dodgy deal if it’s to his benefit.
Jody McGory (Indeyarna Donaldson-Holness)
Jody is the ‘Me’ of the title. A fun-loving 13-year-old, it’s her disappearance that sets everything in motion.
Dylan (Nicholas Croucher)
Best friends with Jody, the awkward Dylan also lives next door to the McGorys and sets about documenting the events directly after Jody goes missing by filming everything on his mobile. But why…?
DS Shola O’Halloran (Nadine Marshall)
Unlike seemingly every other copper in South East London, Shola, while working on Jody’s case, is prepared to give Nelly the benefit of the doubt and occasionally help him out.
Fabio ‘Melon’ Melonzola (Stephen Graham)
Melon, like a lot of the characters, drinks down their local estate pub, The Palm Tree. Best friends with Nelly, we soon discover that Melon has a rather shady past indeed…
Bernie (Alice May Feetham)
The devoted and loving younger girlfriend of Melon.
Zita (Camilla Beeput)
A young and attractive stripper and sometimes prostitute who has a very loose on/off relationship with Nelly.
Katrina “Teens” Betts (Kerry Godliman)
Also having an on/off relationship with Nelly is Teens. Except she doesn’t know quite how much womanising Nelly does.
Marky Betts (Jimmy Walker)
Teens’ son, Marky is a big lad and not afraid to tell Nelly his thoughts about the way he treats her. A bouncer, he’s not a lad to mess with.
Stace (Susan Lynch)
Caring and matriarchal, Stace is the landlady of The Palm and a steady presence in Nelly’s life, as well as many of the other locals’ lives. She was best friends with Claire before she moved away with Barry to Surrey.
Goz (Thomas Coombes)
Another pub dweller, Goz is a trivia addict who is good mates with Nelly and Melon and pedals the odd bit of weed to people on the estate he knows.
Tam (Jason Flemyng)
A cross-dressing pal of Nelly’s, Tam works in Zita’s strip club and helps patch our antihero up when he finds Nelly beaten and bruised in episode 2.
Luke (Alexander Arnold)
A floppy-haired hipster student who, with his friends, also drinks down The Palm. Disdainful of Nelly’s attitude and behaviour, there’s a touch of arrogance to him.
Gavin (Ragevan Vasan)
A friend and flatmate of Luke who also has the odd run-in with Nelly and the regulars in the pub.
Richard (Struan Rodger)
A known figure in the disgusting underground world of child molesters, Richard is a former client of Zita’s and proprietor of a private members club’, a front for a underage brothel. A true creep.
Gideon Charles (Adrian Edmondson)
A really quite vile and shady individual indeed who we see only quite briefly as a cameo in the final episode.
Save Me is airing weekly on Sky Atlantic from March into April. All episodes were made available to watch when episode 1 was first broadcast. So you can either watch them every seven days or do what we did and watch them all in one marathon sitting – that’s how good it is…
Have you been watching Save Me on Sky Atlantic? What do you think? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below – and check out our pick of 2018 TV shows you shouldn’t miss.