‘The Long Song’ characters guide: Who’s who in new BBC mini-series?

The BBC’s adaptation of The Long Song begins tonight in the UK.

Based on Andrea Levy’s award-winning novel, the new period drama is set on the British-ruled island of Jamaica in the 1838, just as 300 years of slavery are finally coming to an end.

The three-part mini-series airs at 9pm each night from Tuesday 18th December to Thursday 20th December on BBC One.

The Long Song will air in the USA in 2019.

Here’s a guide to the main characters:


July (played by Tamara Lawrance)

This is July’s story; we see her from birth to old age, and she is the narrator of her own past. Passionate, wilful, and determined, she is also richly humorous, and a wily survivor.

Separated from her mother as an infant, she learns first how to handle, and then how to manipulate, her mistress Caroline.

Beautiful and ambitious, she finds herself blindsided by love for the overseer Robert. She has an indomitable spirit of survival. We meet her at different stages: in childhood – as a baby, toddler, and seven year-old; as a young woman from 18 to 25 years old, and lastly as an older woman in her 60s.


Caroline Mortimer (played by Hayley Atwell)

When we first meet Caroline she is a shallow, silly young woman who has been forced to live with her brother in Jamaica following the death of her much older husband.

She is ill-suited to Jamaican life, which with its heat makes her indolent and slothful. She takes little July from her mother Kitty as a project to amuse herself, intending to train July as her lady’s maid. Gradually July is able to exert her own cunning mastery over foolish Caroline.


Robert Goodwin (played by Jack Lowden)

Robert Goodwin is the idealistic young overseer who rides into Amity Plantation with seemingly revolutionary plans to improve the plantation. Could his ideals change everything? Gradually, a darker side to him begins to emerge.


Nimrod (played by Jordan Bolger)

A charming, self-assured, charismatic and cocksure young slave who has brought his own freedom. He fancies July and flirts with her.


Kitty (played by Sharon Duncan-Brewster)

A field slave at Amity plantation and mother of July. She’s a strong, stoic slave of few words, who suffers deeply when her child July is stolen from her. She endures heroically, and is capable of unbending love, loyalty and self-sacrifice.


Tam Dewar (played by Gordon Brown)

Scottish overseer at Amity Plantation, rapist of Kitty, father of July, he is the most unpleasant white character in the story. An unyielding overseer of the slaves.


Molly (played by Ayesha Antoine)

Fellow house slave to July at Amity, and patronised by July. She has her vengeance in episode three.


John Howarth (played by Leo Bill)

Master of Amity Plantation. A depressive, melancholic master, distant and disconnected from those around him, and unsentimental about the slaves he owns. He tends to be contemptuous to his fatuous younger sister Caroline.


Godfrey (played by Lenny Henry)

Head of the house slaves at Amity Plantation House. After a lifetime of laconic but obedient service to his masters at Amity, Godfrey finally turns the tables on Caroline during the slave uprising, humiliating her, and makes her call July by her true name instead of her slave name ‘Marguerite’.


Miss Clara (played by Madeleine Mantock)

House slave and boarding house owner. An elegant, beautiful but haughty woman who thinks herself superior to others darker than herself. She tries to belittle July at every meeting and boasts to her of being married to a white man.


Andrea Levy’s original novel is available on Amazon.