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Meet the cast of The Control Room: Our who’s who guide to the twisty turny thriller

The Control Room cast includes leading man Iain De Caestecker.
The Control Room cast includes leading man Iain De Caestecker. (Image credit: BBC)

In The Control Room emergency call handler Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Maver’s world is dramatically upended when he answers a 999 call from a distraught woman in a desperate life-or-death situation. As Gabe attempts to get the caller’s details, she recognizes him and asks ‘Gabo, is that you?’ before hanging up.

Showing over three consecutive nights, BBC One’s gripping new three-part thriller, The Control Room, is written by Nick Leather (Murdered for Being Different), and stars Iain De Caestecker as mild-mannered Gabe, who denies that he recognizes the woman’s voice. 

Yet, he very much knows who she is — Samanatha ‘Sam’ Tolmie (Joanna Vanderham), a significant figure from his past, who he once made a solemn promise to. Forced to think on his feet, Gabe makes the risky decision to track down Sam, triggering a mile-a-minute mission that derails his life…

But can he stay one step ahead of Detective Inspector Anna Breck (Deep Heat’s Sharon Rooney), his boss and lover Leigh (Line of Duty’s Taj Atwal), and colleague Anthony (Vigil’s Daniel Portman)?

Here’s our guide to the cast and characters of this rollercoaster thriller…

Iain De Caestecker as Gabriel ‘Gabe’ Mavers

Iain De Caestecker as Gabe, urging Sam to stay silent.

Call of duty. Gabe is played by Iain De Caestecker. (Image credit: BBC/Hartswood Films/Jamie Simpson)

Iain De Caestecker plays unassuming ambulance call handler Gabe. When we first meet Gabe, he’s having an exceptionally good day after helping a young couple deliver their baby safely and is jubilant when they name their newborn son after him. Yet his joy is short-lived. The next call to Glasgow’s Strathclyde Ambulance Service is a distraught woman in a desperate situation — and she claims to know him. Before Gabe can get her location she hangs up!

The woman in question is Sam, a mystery figure from his past, and he feels honor-bound to uphold a promise he made to her many years ago…

Explaining how Gabe goes from a simple life to a double life, Iain says: “Gabe is a normal, nice, quite shy and introverted guy. Whilst he’s dedicated to his work as a call handler in an ambulance emergency control room, he doesn’t put in much effort into life outside work. He’s kind of just coasting through.

“As the story progresses, you learn he’s quite stuck in the past. There’s some childhood trauma that he’s not quite ready to let go of, so when someone comes back into his life quite suddenly and unexpectedly, he finds himself having to confront demons from his past face on.”

Iain is best known for playing a young Adam Barlow in Coronation Street from 2001 until 2003. Since then he’s starred in Lip Service, The Fades, Young James Herriot, The Secret of Crickley Hall, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Us, and Roadkill.

Joanna Vanderham as Samanatha ‘Sam’ Tolmie  

The Control Room's Joanna Vanderham as femme fatale Sam.

A friend in need? Joanna Vanderham as femme fatale Sam. (Image credit: BBC)

Joanna Vanderham stars as Sam, who is taken aback when she calls 999 during a life or death moment and recognizes the voice on the other phone as Gabe. But unlike the other people in his life, she refers to him as Gabo… 

As the thriller unfolds and Sam and Gabe reunite, it’s clear that these two people have a deeply buried shared past. But a lot has changed since they last saw each other…

Joanna reveals: “Sam is an incredibly fiery, damaged woman who gets caught up in something much bigger than her.

“When she meets Gabe she doesn’t know how impactful it will be; she thinks she can just use him as that’s how she’s been dealt with her whole life. It’s through spending time with him that she starts to question almost every interaction she has with human beings. She’s also carrying around guilt as she starts to realize that Gabe is a good man and she’s taking advantage of him.”

Joanna has starred in The Runaway, Young James Herriot, Above Suspicion, The Paradise, Banished, One of Us, Legends of Tomorrow, Warrior, and Crime

Stuart Bowman as Ian

Stuart Bowman as Gabe's father Ian.

Stuart Bowman as Gabe's father Ian. (Image credit: BBC/Hartswood Films/Jamie Simpson)

Stuart Bowman plays Gabe’s father, Ian, and on first being introduced to him viewers may be forgiven for writing him off as indifferent to his son and quick to anger. 

Widower Ian has a fractured relationship with Gabe, which stretches back into his son’s childhood when his wife, Gabe’s mum, died. He’s initially furious when Gabe starts asking questions about Sam, but his temper belies deep concern for his son.

Stuart has starred in Taggart, Versailles, Bodyguard, Deadwater Fell, The Serpent, Guilt, Alex Rider, and Grantchester.

Taj Atwal as Leigh

Taj Atwal in The Control Room.

Taj Atwal as Leigh. (Image credit: BBC/Hartswood Films/Anne Binckebanck)

Taj Atwal stars as Gabe’s boss and lover, Leigh. Their coworkers are quick to tease them about their budding romance, but from the first episode it seems that Leigh is keener on Gabe than he is on her. She attempts to protect him and give him the benefit of the doubt, but there’s only so much one woman can take!

Describing her character, Taj says: “I play the duty manager, Leigh, and as we discover throughout the series, she’s having a kind-of relationship with Gabe.

“We meet Leigh in the opening scenes in the control room and learn that she is overseeing everything that is going on. There are small hints and nods to the relationship that she has with Gabe, but we don’t see the full manifestation of that straightaway. It’s more of a reveal as the series goes on.”

Taj is best known for her roles in Moving On, In the Club, Stella, Line of Duty, Cold Call, The Syndicate and Hullraisers. 

Daniel Portman as Anthony Hardison

Daniel Portman as Anthony.

Daniel Portman as Anthony. (Image credit: BBC/Hartswood Films/Anne Binckebanck)

Daniel Portman plays Anthony, the joker at work, who’s always up for a laugh and some good natured ribbing. But when an emergency strikes that needs an expert’s touch, he’s immediately someone Gabe and the team can turn to for help. 

Speaking about the role Daniel says: “Anthony is the supervisor in the control room. He is the second-in-command - he looks over the call handlers and is there for assistance when they need it. But you’re never really sure where he’s coming from or what his motivations are. He’s a confident, dominating presence. I imagine him as someone who was probably a bit of a bully when he was younger and someone who is willing to do what it takes to get ahead.”

As he stumbles into Gabe’s double life, will Anthony put friendship above duty?

Daniel is best known for his roles in Game of Thrones and Vigil.

Sharon Rooney as DI Anna Breck

Sharon Rooney as DI Breck.

It's a fair cop. Sharon Rooney as DI Anna Breck. (Image credit: BBC/Hartswood Films/Anne Binckebanck)

Sharon Rooney stars as detective inspector Anna Breck, who is called into the control centre after Gabe’s intense emergency call from Sam. When questioned he denies recognising the lady caller’s voice, but you get the feeling Anna isn’t taking anything at face value with this case. 

Sharon says: “DI Anna Beck is the leading detective investigator on a very interesting crime. There’s nothing typical about this case for her. You never quite know where you stand with her — even when I was playing her, I didn’t know where I stood. That’s what Nick does as a writer, he leaves you little gifts and little clues about your character.

“Viewers are in for a treat. The Control Room is a really exciting contemporary thriller set in modern-day Glasgow about ordinary people going through extraordinary things. You’ll think you’ll know where it’s going but I can guarantee you’re wrong as the twists and turns are really exciting.

“You’ll need snacks, and a blanket, to shut the curtains and turn your phone off to get completely engrossed in this fantastic story!”

As Gabe’s behavior becomes more suspicious, Anna keeps a close eye on him, even making house calls, ramping up the pressure. Will he crack?

Sharon has starred in My Mad Fat DiaryMountain GoatsTwo Doors DownNo OffenceThe Capture, Jerk, and The Teacher. She is currently filming Barbie.  

Taqi Nazeer and Rona Morison as Jat and Danni

Rona, centre, as Danni. Taqi, pointing, as Taj.

Rona, centre, as Danni. Taqi, to the point, as Taj. (Image credit: BBC)

Taqi Nazeer and Rona Morison play Gabe’s colleagues Jat and Danni. This couple are on the verge of an exciting chapter in their lives, as they prepare to move into a new home. Gabe’s increasingly uncharacteristic behaviour doesn’t go unnoticed by them, especially Jat, who is at the blunt end of his co-worker’s mood swings. If Gabe keeps this up, he may find himself uninvited from their housewarming! 

Taqi has starred in The Replacement, Annika, and Shetland. Rona has starred in Decline and Fall, Solo: A Star Wars Story, and Absentia

Daniel Cahill and Charlene Boyd as Robbo and Eilidh

Daniel Cahill and Charlene Boyd in The Control Room.

Old acquaintances, unforgotten by Gabe... (Image credit: BBC)

This couple run a rural pub and may hold the key to both Sam and Gabe's secrets. When Gabe shows up asking questions, however, Robbo threatens to kill him if they ever cross paths again — and he really means it. But why?

Daniel has starred in Followers. Charlene has starred in The Trial of Christine Keeler, River City and Annika.

Jatinder Singh Randhawa as Tah

Jatinder Singh Randhawa stars as Gabe’s neighbour. The dodgy wheeler dealer keeps a watchful eye on comings and goings from Gabe’s flat, becoming unwittingly caught up in his neighbour’s nightmare.

There’s every possibility Gabe and Sam’s ducking and diving could cause serious problems for his own illegal enterprises — especially with DI Anna Breck sniffing around…

Jatinder has had roles in Scot Squad and The Nest.

Harvey Calderwood as Young Gabe and Farrah Thomas as Young Sam 

The way they were... Harvey Calderwood and Farrah Thomas as Young Gabe and Sam in The Control Room.

The way they were... Harvey Calderwood and Farrah Thomas as Young Gabe and Sam in The Control Room. (Image credit: BBC)

We’re not allowed to say too much about Gabe and Sam’s past, as told through flashbacks. Let’s just say, these scenes explain the relationships between numerous characters, not least Gabe, Sam, and Ian. They also explain why Gabe and Sam’s connection runs so deep, as well as reveal why they’ve not seen each other for years…

This starring role as Young Gabe in The Control Room is Harvey Calderwood’s impressive television debut. Equally impressive is Farrah Thomas, who plays Young Sam, who is also making her TV debut, although she stars as Chelsea in the yet-to-be-released film, Because We Are Too Many

The Control Room’s director Amy Neil (Hollyoaks, The Cut, Holby City, Trust Me) says: “Gabe is in his past world, trapped as a 12-year-old boy and kind of frozen in time. He’s frozen in this world where he hasn’t been able to move on emotionally from the loss. It’s very dreamlike with a brilliant, thrilling element.

“There’s always the sense of time with the clock ticking.”

When is The Control Room on?

Showing over three consecutive nights, The Control Room launches on BBC One on Sunday, July 17 at 9pm and ends on Tuesday, July 19. It will be available to watch on BBC iPlayer after transmission. 

Elaine Reilly
Elaine Reilly

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and (opens in new tab)www.whattowatch.com (opens in new tab) covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.

 

As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 


After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.