Danny Boy cast: who stars in BBC Iraq war drama with Toby Jones and Anthony Boyle - and when is it released?

The new one-off drama is based on the true story of Brian Wood

Danny Boy tells the gripping true story of a young man’s journey from hero to alleged war criminal, the determined lawyer on his tail, and their search for truth in the fog of war.

The upcoming feature stars Anthony Boyle as real-life soldier Brian Wood and Toby Jones as tenacious human rights lawyer Phil Skinner.

Sign up to our NationalWorld Today newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Here’s all you need to know about the cast of Danny Boy and how you can watch the dark one-off drama.

The upcoming feature stars Anthony Boyle as real-life soldier Brian Wood  (C) Expectation TV - Photographer: Sophie Mutevelian
The upcoming feature stars Anthony Boyle as real-life soldier Brian Wood (C) Expectation TV - Photographer: Sophie Mutevelian

Anthony Boyle as Brian Wood

Northern Irish actor, Anthony Boyle, plays real life soldier Brian Wood, who took part in a fierce engagement in Iraq north of Basra at the age of 24. Awarded the Military Cross for valour, Brian found himself caught up in a ten-year fight against the accusation that he was a war criminal.

Boyle is most recognisable for playing Scorpius Malfoy in the stage production of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, and his appearance in the HBO miniseries The Plot Against America.

The actor said: “When I read Robert’s script I was immediately attracted to how he explored the grey areas in the story.”

Northern Irish actor, Anthony Boyle, plays real life soldier Brian Wood (C) Expectation TV - Photographer: Robert Viglasky

Toby Jones as Phil Shiner

Toby Jones stars as human rights lawyer, Phil Shiner.

Fans will recognise Jones from his performance as Truman Capote in the movie Infamous, his role in TV comedy Detectorists, and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, where he voiced Dobby the house elf.

Asked about how familiar he was with the real-life case of Brian Wood, Jones said: The more I read the script and looked at it, the more the events depicted came back to me.

Toby Jones stars as human rights lawyer, Phil Shiner (C) Expectation TV - Photographer: Robert Viglasky

“I wasn’t super familiar with this particular case, but I was aware of it and of other similar cases on the American side. Trying to sift out the facts from the fog of war in order to unpick the complexities of what took place feels a very familiar story to me.”

Leah McNamara as Lucy Wood

Leah McNamara plays the role of Brian’s wife, Lucy. McNamara has described the character as a “very loyal, dedicated wife and mother of two”, who is “fully committed to Brian and the often difficult life that comes with being an army wife”.

The Irish actress is best known for playing Rosalind Devlin in the BBC show Dublin Murders, and her performance as Rachel Moran in Normal People.

Leah McNamara plays the role of Brian’s wife, Lucy (C) Expectation TV - Photographer: Sophie Mutevelian

In preparation for filming she said she “read a lot about wives who have husbands in the army, and the challenges that come with that” and “about the difficulty that comes from your partner being away so long”.

Alex Ferns as Gavin Wood

EastEnders actor Alex Ferns plays Brian’s father Gavin Wood.

Ferns is most noticeable for his role in the BBC soap as villain Trevor Morgan, and his performance as Lieutenant Gordon in the WWI film Joyeux Noel.

Pauline Turner as Brian’s mother

Scottish actress Pauline Turner plays Brian’s mother. Turner is best known for her role as Mary Graham on the BBC drama series Martin Chuzzlewit.

She has appeared as Thomas Shelby’s housekeeper, Frances, on the BBC series Peaky Blinders.

What is Danny Boy about?

Based on a harrowing true story, the one-off TV movie depicts the events surrounding the Al-Sweady inquiry that took place from 2009 to 2014. The inquiry investigated accusations of prisoner mistreatment by the British Army in the Iraq war.

The show follows soldier Brian Wood, whose actions are questioned by human rights lawyer, Phil Shiner.

The two men go head to head in a legal and moral conflict that takes viewers from the battlefield – at so-called Checkpoint Danny Boy – to the courtroom.

At its heart, Danny Boy is a very personal tale of courage, character and the intricacy of conscience. After his service in Iraq and years of legal investigation, will Brian Wood ever be able to look his family in the eye again and be the husband, father, and son they need him to be?

The TV movie’s executive producers Colin Barr and Sue Horth said: “The film is about things most of us don’t want to think about, that we usually don’t have to think about, yet have huge consequences for everyone involved.

“We wanted to explore what you can do as a soldier, and what you can’t do, and what happens when a legal light is shone on those moments where morality, criminality and combat meet, when things are at their most grey and difficult.”

When is Danny Boy on TV?

Danny Boy will air on BBC Two and BBC iPlayer on Wednesday 12 May at 9pm.

The one-off TV movie will run for 90 minutes.

What happens in the Danny Boy trailer?

The BBC released a short trailer for the TV film. The teaser shows Anthony Boyle and Toby Jones going head to head in the courtroom, and features flashbacks to the Battle of Danny Boy.