Compulsion — release date, cast interview, trailer, plot, first looks and all about the drama on gambling addiction

Leanne Best leads the cast as paramedic gambling addict Jenny in Channel 5's Compulsion.
Leanne Best leads the cast as paramedic gambling addict Jenny in Channel 5's Compulsion. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Channel 5 thriller Compulsion stars Leanne Best as Jenny Challoner, a paramedic who after a fatal train crash develops a gambling addiction to try to cope with her PTSD. Anna Chancellor plays good Samaritan Sasha who offers Jenny a way out when she gets into debt to some seriously dangerous people. Legendary Hollywood actor Hayley Mills also stars in the four-parter playing against type in a totally sinister role (read more below).

So here's everything you need to know about Compulsion on Channel 5...

Compulsion release date

Compulsion is a four-part drama that arrives on Channel 5 on Tuesday April 12 at 9pm and runs for four consecutive nights finishing on Good Friday April 15 at 9pm. It will launch on streaming service My5 shortly afterwards. We can also update on a US and worldwide release date in 2022 when we find out.

Is there a Compulsion trailer?

Yes a Compulsion trailer has now been launched by Channel 5. Do take a look below...

Compulsion plot

Compulsion puts the spotlight on gambling addiction as it follows paramedic Jenny Challoner (Leanne Best). After being involved in a fatal train crash she develops an all-consuming gambling addiction as a way of coping with her PTSD.  She becomes heavily in debt to some dangerous people, but is relieved when help arrives in the form of a good Samaritan Sasha (Anna Chancellor), who offers Jenny a way out. However, it seems Sasha has her own agenda, one which will ultimately force Jenny to take the biggest gamble of her life. Hayley Mills plays Connie Bertram, a fearsome loan shark who holds Jenny’s fate in her hands. 

Compulsion cast — Leanne Best on playing paramedic Jenny Challoner

The lead role in Compulsion, namely paramedic Jenny Challoner, is played by Leanne Best who told us more about her role and the story behind the four-part drama...

Leanne says: "She’s a pretty confident paramedic and mum, until a tragic incident happens, which triggers a set of post trauma-related behaviours that start to have a really negative affect on her personal life. At its heart, the story explores the universal themes of friendship, family, love, loss and trauma and what happens to ordinary people who are struggling in extraordinary circumstances.

"The embarrassment of her online gambling habit triggers an isolation that ruptures this really safe, secure family unit. The challenging thing about addiction is the person is absolutely deserving of compassion but quite often the behaviour is so damaging to the people around them that it’s hard for loved ones to feel that compassion."

Leanne did speak to some gambling addicts about the role: "Mainly in terms of addictive impulses. The really interesting thing that kept coming up was the issue of willpower. The compulsion to keep doing it overrides any intellectual reasoning about why you shouldn’t. Addiction is so prevalent, and we all know somebody who’s suffered with it, but nobody gets an instruction manual on how to deal with it."

Leanne starred in BBC1 drama Four Lives earlier this year. In that harrowing drama about the victims of serial killer Stephen Port Leanne played Kate, the sister of Sarah Sak (Sheridan Smith). Last year she also starred as Anna in the Channel 4 thriller Close To Me. She plays Frida in Young Wallander too.

Leanne Best plays paramedic gambling addict Jenny in Compulsion while Anna Chancellor is Sasha who tries to help her.

Leanne Best as paramedic gambling addict Jenny with Anna Chancellor as Sasha. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Compulsion cast — Anna Chancellor as Sasha Santoro

Anna Chancellor stars in Compulsion as Sasha Santoro, who looks like she could be the answer to Jenny's prayers, but may well have ulterior motives. Anna is of course famous for playing 'Duckface' in the hit film Four Weddings And A Funeral. She's recently starred in dramas such as Hotel Portofino, The Split and Pennyworth.

Leanne Best told us more about Jenny's dodgy connection to Sasha in the drama: "Jenny has a chance meeting with Sasha and at first it looks like she might be something of a saviour and a best friend. But as the story goes on we start to see that it might be a bit more complicated between the two of them. I won’t give too much away, but there’s something else going on that Jenny has missed because she’s been too distressed to think clearly."

In Compulsion Anna Chancellor's Sasha has ulterior motives for helping Jenny.

In Compulsion Anna Chancellor's Sasha has ulterior motives for helping Jenny. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Compulsion cast — Hayley Mills as Connie Bertram

Playing fearsome loan shark Connie Bertram in Compulsion is really against type for former Hollywood child star Hayley Mills who after all starred in cute Disney films such as Pollyanna, The Parent Trap and That Darn Cat!. The daughter of Sir John Mills, Hayley has had a long career in acting and is remembered for playing Caroline du Plessis ITV drama Wild At Heart. She starred in BBC1's Moving On and most recently showed up in Sky movie Last Train To Christmas. Her son Crispin was the lead singer in 1990s rock band Kula Shaker.

Leanne Best was thrilled to work with Hayley, as she revealed to us: "Oh my gosh, she’s so good in it! I mean, she’s a Hollywood icon, a cultural stalwart of TV and cinema, but she’s also so generous in person and so classy, so gracious and so lovely. I found it really unsettling, though, because she plays this slightly reptilian woman. She looks really lovely in a twin set and pearls, but she’s actually really terrifying! And what’s quite clever about the casting is that people might have a stereotypical view of what loan sharks look like – and they don’t look like Hayley Mills! All of that adds to the drama of the series and the rising panic that Jenny has."

Hayley Mills is sinister loan shark Connie Bertram in Compulsion.

Hayley Mills is a sinister loan shark in Compulsion. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Who else is starring in Compulsion?

The Compulsion cast also includes Ben Tavassoli as Jenny's paramedic colleague Raj, plus Krissi Bohn as Ali and Danny Ashok as Chris (see both in main picture above).

Ben Tavassoli stars as paramedic Raj in Compulsion.

(Image credit: Channel 5)

Jenny with Ali (Krissi Bohn).

Jenny with Ali (Krissi Bohn). (Image credit: Channel 5)

Compulsion — what else we know

Compulsion is written by Sarah Deane (Moving On, Clink) and directed by Noreen Kershaw (Call the Midwife, Pitching In, Our Girl).

Sebastian Cardwell, Channel 5 Deputy Director of Programmes, ViacomCBS Networks UK says: “I’m excited to be adding to our thriving drama slate with another commission for 2022! LA Productions have a wealth of experience creating cutting edge drama, and I’m looking forward to teaming up with them to bring this gripping story to Channel 5 viewers.”

 Colin McKeown, Executive Producer, LA Productions adds “We strive with all of our dramas to get the best cast, the best crew and the best script. With Compulsion we believe we have achieved that.”

Meanwhile Adam Barth, Director of Co-productions, Acquisitions, and Development, Eccho Rights, London says: “We are delighted to announce Compulsion as the first UK drama production on our slate. A thrilling premise with a brilliant cast, we have already seen a high level of interest from international broadcasters.” 

 Nicola Söderlund, Managing Partner at Eccho Rights adds: "Since establishing our London office we’ve made great strides in drama development and co-production, with partners throughout Western Europe. Compulsion is the first of a raft of projects in the pipeline, that we are excited to announce in the coming months.”

Nicholas Cannon
TV Content Director on TV Times, What's On TV and TV & Satellite Week

I'm a huge fan of television so I really have found the perfect job, as I've been writing about TV shows, films and interviewing major television, film and sports stars for over 25 years. I'm currently TV Content Director on What's On TV, TV Times, TV and Satellite Week magazines plus I previously worked on Woman and Woman's Own in the 1990s. Outside of work I swim every morning, support Charlton Athletic football club and get nostalgic about TV shows Cagney & Lacey, I Claudius, Dallas and Tenko. I'm totally on top of everything good coming up too.