The Watch's Magical Cast of Cops and Criminals Is Getting Bigger

The Night Watch.
The Night Watch.
Image: Stephen Briggs

The BBC’s upcoming series The Watch based on Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books already has a rather robust cast playing a group of elite, though scrappy cops fighting to bring peace to their corrupt town where crime’s been legalized. But the show was clearly still in need of some proper villains to give its heroes adversaries to face off against.

Today, the BBC announced a new group of actors set to join The Watch’s ranks, and nearly all of them are set to play one kind of shady character or another.

Anna Chancellor, James Fleet, Ingrid Oliver, Ruth Madeley, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, and Bianca Simone Mannie
Anna Chancellor, James Fleet, Ingrid Oliver, Ruth Madeley, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, and Bianca Simone Mannie
Image: BBC

Pennyworth’s Anna Chancellor is set to play a gender-bent spin on Lord Vetinari, the Machiavellian power player who comes to rule the city of Ankh-Morpork and is a proponent for legalized lawlessness. In the Discworld series, there have been a number of different Archchancellors of the Unseen University, Ankh-Morpork’s premiere school for young magic users, and while it’s not clear which of them The Watch is going with, the character will be played by Outlander’s James Fleet.

Dr. Cruces, the unnerving leader of Ankh-Morpork’s Assassin’s Guild, will be portrayed by Ingrid Oliver of Doctor Who fame, and legendary informant Throat will be played by Years and Years’ Ruth Madely. Homeland’s Bianca Simone Mannie will play Wonse, a wizard with ambitions to take her place on Ankh-Morpork’s royal throne, and Dynasty’s Hakeem Kae-Kazim rounds out the cast as Sam Vines’ (Richard Dormer) mentor John Keel, who once led the Night Watch.

From the looks of things, the BBC’s going all-in on the production and not shying away from the breadth of Pratchett’s original storytelling, which is great to hear—but what remains to be seen when The Watch premieres in 2020 is whether the series gives everyone in its large cast ample screen time to shine.


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io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.

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Woo! Four characters genderbent and two racebent! This show is going to turn out to be something very, very interesting.

I’m especially looking forward to seeing Anna Chancellor’s version of Lord Vetinari. Because we’ve already seen excellent versions (even if they were only for cameos) from Jeremy Irons and Charles Dance, but having a woman play Vetinari seems a very interesting choice and I hope she shows up as a power player in a lot of the episodes. I haven’t seen Chancellor in Pennyworth, but I did hear she was good in it (even if the show itself was apparently bonkers).

Also, John Keel? Looking nothing like Sam Vimes? I wonder if we’re going to be getting a reinterpretation of Night Watch without the time travel?