Rules of the Game cast: who stars in BBC drama with Alison Steadman and Maxine Peake - and when is it on TV?

The series is produced by Simon Meyers (I May Destroy You) and directed by Jennifer Sheridan

BBC One has another gripping mystery drama this January, as it debuts ‘Rules of The Game’.

The four-part series tells the story of a Sportswear COO who has turned a blind eye to a culture of toxicity and secrets, in her ambition to climb to the top of the company.

Rules of the Game is another hard hitting drama for actress Maxine Peake, following her role in ITV’s Anne.

So, who is cast alongside Peake in the series - and what is it about? This is what you need to know.

Rules of the Game plot

Rules of The Game focuses on two main characters, Sam Thompson (Peake) - a ruthless, abrasive, and self serving COO who has managed to climb her way to the top of a male dominated workforce.

Fly is a family-run company, run by the Jenkins family, but Sam has been successful in infiltrating the senior roles.

When the new HR Director, Maya (Rakhee Thakrar), joins the team, she is less impressed by Sam’s willingness to play along with the boys and has a very different perspective on how business should run.

The pair clash from the get go as Maya challenges and attempts to rectify the toxic culture of the workplace, when dark secrets begin to emerge.

Before long, the two become concerned about the death of a young female employee, Amy, who died in mysterious circumstances after a company party a decade ago.

When another sudden death of young employee takes place at Fly, on the company premises, Sam faces questions from the police, and finds herself questioning her loyalty to Fly, her family and Maya.

As new revelations about Amy’s death come to the surface, questions are asked about how culpable the company is - and how guilty is Sam?

The show’s director, Jennifer Sheridan, said of the series: “I feel the show’s strength is that it doesn’t ram anything down your throat, it allows you to make up your own mind about people and then challenges that perception.

“By the end of it I want the audience to be thinking about what these characters might’ve learnt and what, if anything, we can learn from them.”

Rules of the Game cast

Maxine Peake as Sam Thompson

Maxine Peake leads in the BBC drama ‘Rules of The Game’ (Picture: BBC)
Maxine Peake leads in the BBC drama ‘Rules of The Game’ (Picture: BBC)
Maxine Peake leads in the BBC drama ‘Rules of The Game’ (Picture: BBC)

Peake takes the lead role as Sam Thompson, COO of sportswear company Fly.

Peake is best known for her roles in BBC comedy Dinnerladies as Twinkle, in Channel 4’s Shameless, and recently for her role as Anne Williams in docu-drama Anne.

Peake told the BBC of her role as Sam: “I just loved the fact that Sam to me, felt real. I felt I knew Sam, she had a sense of humour, she was incredibly flawed.

“She is warm and compassionate, but other times she’s selfish – she’s likeable and unlikeable in equal measure. I liked the challenge of not making her some striding businesswoman nightmare, but making her real.”

Peake added that the MeToo movement has opened up the secrecy of male toxicity in many workplaces and, although highlighted the issue of sexual abuse in film and TV, she has come to realise it has been historically an issue for many industries.

Rakhee Thakrar as Maya Benshaw

Rakhee Thakrar as Maya Benshaw (Picture: BBC)
Rakhee Thakrar as Maya Benshaw (Picture: BBC)
Rakhee Thakrar as Maya Benshaw (Picture: BBC)

Thakrar takes on the co-lead as Maya, the new HR director at Fly and the catalyst who questions the toxic masculinity of her new colleagues and employers.

Previously, she has played Shabnam Masood in the BBC’s EastEnders and Emily Sands in the Netflix comedy-drama seriesSex Education.

Speaking to the BBC about her character’s personality, she described her as the “definition of optimism, she absolutely loves her job.”

However, Maya is also someone who comes across as having her life sorted and simple, but the show explores the energy it takes to come across in such a way.

The drama tackles issues which face workforces today, and of the key themes of Rules of The Game, Thakrar said: “The key themes for me are really looking at the way young employees are treated in these corporate worlds. For instance, in our show, Amy and Tess are coerced into taking drugs and performing sexual favours,  and you see how badly that ends.”

“There is also a lot of uncovering truth …people who have done bad things ten years ago and the past catches up with them,” she added.

Susan Wokoma as DI Eve Preston

Wokomo as DI Preston (Picture: BBC)
Wokomo as DI Preston (Picture: BBC)
Wokomo as DI Preston (Picture: BBC)

Wokoma is best known for her roles as "Raquel" in the E4/Netflix show Crazyhead and "Cynthia" in Chewing Gum, and takes up the role of a police detective for Rules of The Game.

Not much is known about her character, DI Preston, other than she will play a vital role in the inquiries into the death of Fly employee Tess, on the company’s premises.

She has also had roles in Simon Pegg’s Amazon comedy, Truth Seekers and as a copper in Year of the Rabbit.

In 2017, she was named in Europe Forbes’ top 30 under 30.

Kieran Bew as Gareth Jenkins

Bew is a British actor who has previously had roles in Hans Christian Andersen: My Life as a Fairytale and Da Vinci’s Demons.

In his latest role as Gareth Jenkins, he plays the role of one of the most influential men at the top of the workforce, as his family own the company.

While he has not commented on his role, it can be expected that he will be at the heart of the toxic narrative the female employees have endured.

Callie Cooke as Tess Jones

Caillie Cooke as Tess (Picture: BBC)
Caillie Cooke as Tess (Picture: BBC)
Caillie Cooke as Tess (Picture: BBC)

Viewers may recognise Cooke from Britannia (2017), The Stranger (2020) and Overshadowed (2017), and in Rules of the Game she plays Tess, the employee who loses her life.

For Rules of The Game she plays the role of Tess, a former friend of the girl who died ten year ago.

Also cast in Rules of the Game are Zoe Tapper (The One), Katherine Pearce (Our Girl) and Ben Batt (Shamless) as Vanessa Jenkins, Carys Jenkins and Owen Jenkins.

Gavin and Stacey’s Alison Steadman is cast as Anita.

When is Rules of the Game on TV?

Rules of The Game starts Tuesday 11 Jan on BBC One and BBC iPlayer at 9pm. All episodes will be available as a boxset on BBC iPlayer.

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