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Mayflies — cast, plot and everything you need to know about the drama

Mayflies arrives on BBC1 with Ashley Jensen, Martin Compston and Tony Curran starring.
Mayflies arrives on BBC1 with Ashley Jensen, Martin Compston and Tony Curran starring. (Image credit: BBC)

Mayflies on BBC1 will take us back to the heady days of the music and vibes of the 1980s as Scottish friends look back on their magical weekend in Manchester in 1986. The two-part drama is an adaptation of the famous novel by Andrew O’Hagan (opens in new tab) by writer Andrea Gibb (Elizabeth Is Missing) and will star Agatha Raisin's Ashley Jensen, Line of Duty star Martin Compston and Tony Curran (Ray Donovan) as .

So here's everything you need to know about Mayflies on BBC One...

Mayflies release date

The BBC has yet to announce a release date for Mayflies as it's only just started filming. We believe however it will be a quick turnaround and Mayflies will be shown before the end of 2022. It will also be available on BBCiPlayer and we'll update here with any US or international air dates.

What's the plot of Mayflies?

In the summer of 1986 in Mayflies, and James (Martin Compston) and Tully (Tony Curran) begin a friendship based on their love of music, films and a rebellious streak at he height of Thatcher's Britain. With school over, they organise a magical weekend of youthful excesses in Manchester played out against the greatest soundtrack ever recorded. And there a vow is made: to go at life differently.
Thirty years on, the phone rings and James speaks to Tully who has some terrible news to share plus a request that will test their friendship, love, and loyalty to the limit…

Mayflies cast — Martin Compston, Tony Curran and Ashley Jensen

In Mayflies, Martin Compston plays older James while Tony Curran is older Tully who 30 years after their wild weekend in Manchester in 1986 look back on what happened.

Martin's breakthrough role was playing a troubled teenager in the Ken Loach movie Sweet Sixteen. He's now known best for his role DS Steve Arnott in the crime thriller series Line of Duty. Last year he also starred in the hit series Vigil while this year he was in Our House on ITV. He has also starred in Traces, The Nest, Mary Queen of Scots and Death in Paradise. Martin played Ewan Brodie in Monarch of the Glen from 2003 to 2005. He's about to host the BBC2 documentary series Martin Compston's Scottish Fling while in 2022 Martin can be seen in Prime Video thriller The Rig set on a Scottish oil rig.

Tony Curran played Sgt. Mikey 'Rad' Radulovic in Ray Donovan, Brett Swann in SEAL Team Frankie in Your Honor and Despero in The Flash. He's also starred in Roots, Crazyhead, Elementary and Defiance.

Agatha Raisin and Extras actor Ashley Jensen also stars in Mayflies but her role in the drama has yet to be announced. We'll update on here as soon as we hear.

Line of Duty cast.

Martin Compston as Steve Arnott (centre) in Line of Duty. (Image credit: BBC)

The Rig stars Martin Compston as Bulmer.

Upcoming drama The Rig stars Martin Compston as oil rig worker Bulmer. (Image credit: Amazon Prime Video)

Ashley Jensen as Agatha Raisin.

Ashley Jensen as Agatha Raisin. (Image credit: Sky/Acorn)

Who else is starring in Mayflies

Other casting for Mayflies has yet to be announced, so we'll update here when we hear. We're expecting some well-known names to be playing James and Tully as the hedonistic young lads in 1986. 

Is there a trailer for Mayflies?

As Mayflies has only just started filming there won't be a trailer available until later in 2022. We'll update here as soon as it arrives.

Behind the scenes and filming locations on Mayflies

Mayflies is filming during autumn 2022 in and around Glasgow and Ayrshire. It's a Synchronicity Films production for the BBC in association with All3 Media International, with support from Screen Scotland. It will be produced by Brian Kaczynski, written by Andrea Gibb and directed by Peter Mackie Burns. Executive producers are Andrea Gibb, Claire Mundell for Synchronicity Films, Gavin Smith for BBC Scotland and Gaynor Holmes for BBC Drama.

Andrea Gibb, Screenwriter and Executive Producer, says: “Adapting Andrew O’Hagan’s magnificent novel has been one of the highlights of my career. Andrew tells his story of enduring male friendship with love, truth, tenderness and a searing humanity. There’s not an ounce of sentimentality. It’s very funny and deeply moving. The characters of Tully and Jimmy are instantly recognisable and totally unforgettable. Both are so alive and vibrant they leap off the page. It’s been a joy and a privilege living with them.”

Andrew O’Hagan, novelist, says: “For a while now, I’ve admired the work of Synchronicity Films - Scottish in its bones and international in complexion - and it's a thrill to see them bringing Mayflies to BBC One. The story is a very personal one to me, and it’s amazing to see the characters come to life in Andrea Gibb’s wonderful adaptation. Director Peter Mackie Burns has a singular vision, and I look forward to seeing what he makes of the Ayrshire landscape and the emotional reality of this story.”

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 Whattowatch.com. 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.