Magpie Murders: release date, cast, plot, trailer, interviews and all about the crime drama starring Lesley Manville

In Magpie Murders Lesley Manville stars as book editor Susan Ryeland.
Magpie Murders stars Lesley Manville as book editor Susan Ryeland and Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd. (Image credit: ITV)

Anthony Horowitz’s best-selling murder mystery Magpie Murders has been turned into a six-part series starring Tim McMullan, Lesley Manville, Daniel Mays, Pippa Haywood, Michael Maloney and Conleth Hill. Having previously streamed on BritBox, for 2023 the crime drama is coming to BBC1. Timothy Spall had been signed on to the project but pulled out of Magpie Murders before filming for personal reasons.

The author Anthony Horowitz has adapted his Magpie Murders novel for the small screen, while The Full Monty and The A Word director Peter Cattaneo is at helm, while filming took place in Ireland and Suffolk. 

Here’s everything you need to know about the twisty-turny crime thriller, which launches on BBC1 in spring 2023 but is available now on BritBox in the UK and also PBS Masterpiece in the US...

Lesley Manville as book editor Susan Ryeland.

Lesley Manville as book editor Susan Ryeland sleuthing for clues. (Image credit: BBC)

Magpie Murders release date

Magpie Murders will now be arriving on BBC1 on Saturday April 1 2023 at  9.15pm and is available as a full box set on BBCiPlayer. 

* Magpie Murders was first released on BritBox in the UK on Thursday, February 10, 2022. The six-part drama then arrived autumn 2022 in the US on PBS Masterpiece as part of PBS's Masterpiece Mystery season. Episodes ran on PBS at 9/8c on Sunday nights from October 16, 2022, until November 20, 2022. 

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Magpie Murders — the plot

The plot of Magpie Murders revolves around editor Susan Ryeland (Lesley Manville) who’s given a tattered, unfinished manuscript by best-selling crime author Alan Conway (Conleth Hill). She's aghast that it seems to be missing the last chapter! "A Whoddunit without an ending? It won't even be worth the paper it's not printed on!" she explains. There's no sign of the author himself either, and some believe he's dead, possibly through murder! So Susan is set on a path that will change her life forever. 

Meanwhile, Tim McMullan stars as the clever and complex 1950s detective Atticus Pünd, who’s renowned for solving crimes in Conway’s fictional novels. 

But Alan Conway’s latest murder mystery isn’t quite what it seems and hidden between the pages there lies another story that will end up changing Susan’s life. Look out for the fiendish modern twist!

Conleth Hill. as best-selling crime author Alan Conway.

Conleth Hill. as best-selling crime author Alan Conway. (Image credit: BBC)

Is there a trailer for Magpie Murders?

Yes, a trailer for Magpie Murders has been released by BritBox which starts with an intriguing opening: "There are many who believe Atticus Pund to be the world's greatest detective" Lesley Manville's Susan Ryeland is excited by the latest mystery book but exasperated that it's missing its last chapter! Take a look at the trailer below.

Who's in the Magpie Murders cast — Tim McMullan plays detective Atticus Pünd

Tim McMullan is an English actor who's starred in the hit films Shakespeare In Love with Dame Judi Dench and The Queen alongside Helen Mirren. He recently starred as Douglas Cartwright in the crime drama The Serpent (currently on Netflix). Fans of The Crown on Netflix may have spotted him in season 3, in the astronauts' episode called "Moondust". Going back further, Tim starred as Arthur Valentine in the TV series Foyles War.

Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd on the case.

Magpie Murders first look: Tim McMullan as Atticus Pünd on the case. (Image credit: ITV)

Interview: Lesley Manville on playing book editor Susan Ryeland

Lesley told us: "She’s an independent, spirited woman who lives by her own rules. She’s fabulous! ‘I really like her as a person, as she's not done what most people would have expected her to.

"When Alan sends Susan the manuscript of his latest book, it's missing the last chapter. Then he dies and, from that point on, the story flips between the circumstances surrounding Conway's death, and how it parallels with the deaths of characters in the book he has written. Susan stops being an editor and gets more interested in solving the murder – if it is murder…"

Lesley has had an extensive film career with leading roles in Secrets & Lies, Vera Drake and more recently Mrs Harris Goes to Paris. She worked with Timothy Spall before in Mr. Turner. On the television screen, fans will know her as Cathy in the warm-hearted sitcom Mum and as brothel keeper Lydia Quigley in Harlots. Lesley recently starred in Channel 4 drama I Am Maria, and she's in The Crown season 5 playing Princess Margaret.

Lesley Manville in Magpie Murders.

Lesley Manville Susan Ryeland in Magpie Murders. (Image credit: ITV)

Who else is starring in Magpie Murders?

Other members of the Magpie Murders cast include Daniel Mays (Code 404, Franklin) as two policemen DS Locke and DI Chubb (see interview below) and Game Of Thrones star Conleth Hill as crime author Alan Conway.

Pippa Haywood (Bodyguard), Michael Maloney (The Crown), Alexandros Logothetis (42°C, The Island), Claire Rushbrook (Whitechapel, My Mad Fat Diary) and Matthew Beard (Dracula, And When Did You Last See Your Father?) also star.

Daniel Mays in Magpie Murders.

Daniel Mays in Magpie Murders. (Image credit: ITV)

Interview: Daniel Mays on playing two coppers in Magpie Murders

After playing a cop in series three of crime drama Line of Duty, for his new role Danny Mays is playing not one but two policemen in Magpie Murders

"The main reason I wanted to get involved in Magpie Murders was that idea of one actor playing two roles," says  Danny, who plays DS Locke in the contemporary storyline, and DI Chubb in the 1950s-set dramatised sequences from Conway’s book. 

"Locke, the guy in the modern-day storyline, takes himself incredibly seriously, is very brusque, and thinks he's the bee's knees," Danny adds. "That's in complete contrast to 1950s cop Chubb, who’s completely inept and couldn’t investigate his way out of a paper bag. It’s an ingenious concept and incredibly funny!"

For Danny, being cast as a policeman is something he’s getting used to. "I've no idea why it’s happening, and I’m starting to get a bit worried about it!" he smiles. "When I started out, I played a lot of young men on “the wrong side of the law”. So I got cast as my fair share of criminals, hoodlums and gangster-type characters. But now that’s progressed into policemen!|

As for roles in the future, he’s not too sure… "Someone said to me: 'You've got lawyers and doctors to look forward to as you get older – or maybe wizards!'," he laughs. ‘Maybe I’m just getting a more authoritarian-looking face as I grow older!"

Daniel Mays as DS Locke in the modern day.

Daniel Mays as DS Locke in the modern day. (Image credit: BBC)

Danny as fictional DI Chubb form the 1950s.

Danny as fictional DI Chubb form the 1950s. (Image credit: BBC)

Locations and behind the scenes on Magpie Murders

Although much of the six-part Magpie Murders was filmed in Dublin, the Suffolk village of Kersey proved the perfect location for the picture postcard Saxby-on-Avon, where fictional 1950s detective Atticus Pünd investigates foul play at Pye Hall.

The imposing manor house that is used as prickly author Alan Conway’s home in Magpie Murders’ contemporary storyline, and as Pye Hall, residence of Sir Magnus Pye, in the 1950s Atticus Pünd sequences, was as an old, derelict building outside Dublin, that was once owned by the Guinness family.

All about Magpie Murders writer Anthony Horowitz

The most famous works of British writer Anthony Horowitz include the Alex Rider series, about an ordinary teen recruited to MI6, which has been turned into a Prime Video series starring Vicky McClure, Ace Bhatti and Stephen Dillane. He’s also written for television, contributing scripts to Poirot and Midsomer Murders and he created Foyle’s War.

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.