Slow Horses Cast and Character Guide

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Based on the spy novels by author Mick Herron, Slow Horses follows a ragtag group of MI5 service rejects, dubbed Slough House, who have messed up on previous assignments, but not enough to be removed from duty.

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Those consigned there are known as “slow horses” and are expected to endure dull, paper-pushing tasks and mental abuse from their boss, Jackson Lamb, under the hopes that they will quit. Despite being on the low rung of the espionage ladder, the team still manages to find themselves involved in crucial cases.

Premiering on Apple TV+ on 1 April 2022, Slow Horses has proven successful for the growing platform. The third season premiered on 29 November 2023, the fourth is set for December 2024, and a 5th season is confirmed as well.

Given the nature of Slow Horses and the Slough House, few performers have stayed consistent each season, with new members and new threats always being introduced. Here is a breakdown the main cast, as well as the multiple actors involved in the hit spy-thriller.

Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb

Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb wearing a coat and tie looking at something off-screen in Slow Horses
Apple TV+

In Slow Horses, Gary Oldman plays the role of Jackson Lamb, the comically unpleasant boss of the Slough House which takes in agents who have failed on the field and M15 is trying to push out.

A frumpy curmudgeon with a wicked mind who enjoys tormenting his agents, Oldman’s Jackson Lamb has become essential to the success of the show, with his performance garnering critical praise and fanfare; delivering great lines such as “Working with you has been the lowest point in a disappointing career.

Related: Best Spy Movies That Are Based on True Stories, Ranked

Jackson Lamb Is Oldman’s Last Role of His Career

Born on March 21, 1958, in London, England, Gary Oldman is an Oscar-winning actor known for his versatility, making him a staple in the movie industry. Oldman has played everything from a vampire in 1992’s Bram Stoker’s Dracula to a would-be world ruler in The Fifth Element.

However, Oldman is probably best known for portraying historical figures, including Herman J. Mankiewicz in Mank, Ludwig van Beethoven in Immortal Beloved, Winston Churchill in Darkest Hour, and Harry Truman in Oppenheimer. In addition, his inclusion in the DCEU as Commissioner Gordon in The Dark Knight series has been praised. Notably, Oldman says that this will be his last role before retiring.

Jack Lowden as River Cartwright

Jack Lowden as River Cartwright in Slow Horses
Apple TV+

Jack Lowden’s River Cartright has become one of the primary and most notable outcasts to find themselves carrying the ‘slow horses’ moniker. Assigned to the Slough House after failing a training exercise on a train that led to a simulated bomb explosion, Cartright comes across as an outcast with something to prove.

He is one of the few agents who has remained consistent throughout the show, including the 100% fresh third season (which Lowden has also said is his favorite thus far).

Related: Best Fictional Spy Organizations in Movies & TV Shows

Jack Lowden Has a Knack For Historical and War Roles

Born on June 2, 1990, in Chelmsford, England, Jack Lowden is a Scottish actor who saw his first significant break in the 2016 BBC miniseries War & Peace where he played Nikolai Rostov. This role would act to further Lowden’s film career, and he would find himself landing notable roles in 2018s Calibre and 2019s Mary Queen of Scotts.

He would also star in Terence Davies’ 2021 historical drama Benediction, for which he won a BAFTA Scotland Award for Best Actor.

Kristin Scott Thomas as Diana Taverner

Kristin Scott Thomas as Diana Taverner in Slow Horses
Apple TV+

Dame Kristin Scott Thomas plays MI5 second desk Diana Taverne in Slow Horses. Best known for trading barbs with Jackson Lamb, her personality has been described as elegant yet mischievous. With ambitions of power and a willingness to manipulate, Taverner finds herself in a power struggle with the intelligence community, using Slough House to get her way and advance her career.

Kristin Scott Thomas has spoken fondly about her time playing the role. Talking with French culture site Le Monde, she said:

It’s another way of working that intrigues me – long form. That’s what interested me even more than the character; to do something that would go on for years, and to be part of a kind of company. The thing I like least about making films is its isolated form.

Kristin Scott Thomas Has Far-Ranging Talents

Born on May 24, 1960, in Redruth, Cornwall, England, Kristin Scott Thomas is an Oscar-nominated and BAFTA-winning actress. With over 100 acting credits, she is best known for her roles in The English Patient and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Fluent in French, having lived in Paris longer than her homeland, Kristen Scott Thomas has starred in several French productions, including I’ve Loved You So Long and Tell No One.

Slough House

The central agency headed by Jackson Lamb, the Slough House, is a rotating door for agents who have messed up in the field, often due to personal issues or vices. Here are the various M15 rejects deemed “slow horses.”

  • Catherine Standish
    is the office administrator
    and a recovering alcoholic
    , played by
    Saskia Reeves
    (
    Close My Eyes
    ,
    Luther
    ).

  • Sidonie “Sid” Baker
    is a competent MI5 agent assigned to Slough House (Season 1), played by
    Olivia Cooke
    (
    Ready Player One
    ,
    Me and Earl and the Dying Girl
    ).

  • Louisa Guy
    is assigned to Slough House after a botched tail operation, played by
    Rosalind Eleazar
    (
    Harlots
    ,
    The Personal History of David Copperfield
    ).

  • Roddy Ho
    is a former ‘hacktivist’ turned computer expert for M15, played by
    Christopher Chung
    (
    Waterloo
    ).

  • Jed Moody
    an ex-member of the “Dogs” (Season 1), played by
    Steven Waddington
    (
    Uncharted
    ,
    Sleepy Hollow
    ).

  • Min Harper
    was demoted after leaving a top-secret disk on a train (Seasons 1 & 2), played by
    Dustin Demri-Burns
    (
    Cardinal Burns
    ).

  • Struan Loy
    went to Slough House after sending inappropriate work emails (Season 1), played by
    Paul Higgins
    (
    In The Loop
    ,
    Apostle
    ).

  • Shirley Dander
    is an agent dealing with anger issues (Season 2–present), played by
    Aimee-Ffion Edwards
    (
    Peaky Blinders
    ,
    Dreamland
    ).

  • Marcus Longridge
    is an agent who got in hot water because of a gambling addiction. (Season 2–present), played by
    Kadiff Kirwan
    (
    Chewing Gum
    ).

Dead Lions (Season 2)

Season two of Slow Horses, titled “Dead Lions,” sees Jackson Lamb investigating the death of a retired MI5 agent who uncovered a network of Russian sleeper agents. This event catches up with the Slough House team in a grander conspiracy and introduces several new characters. These actors only appeared in the second season of Slow Horses.

  • Nikolai Katinsky
    is a former KGB agent in exile, played by
    Rade Šerbedžija
    (
    Snatch
    ,
    Mighty Joe Young
    ).

  • Andre Chernitsky
    is a former KGB operative and assassin played by
    Marek Vašut
    (
    Blade II
    ,
    Slovenia
    ).

  • Arkady Pashkin
    is a fixer for a Russian oligarch, played by
    Alec Utgoff
    (
    Stranger Things
    ,
    San Andreas
    ).

  • Alex Tropper
    is a resident in the small village of Upshott, played by
    Catherine McCormack
    (
    Braveheart
    ,
    Spy Game
    ).

  • Duncan Tropper
    is Alex’s husband and a pub owner in Upshott, played by
    Adrian Rawlins
    (
    Harry Potter
    ,
    Breaking the Waves
    ).

  • Kelly Tropper
    is a bartender in Upshott and the daughter of Alex and Duncan, played by
    Tamsin Topolski
    (
    What You Wish For
    ,
    Penny Dreadful
    ).

  • Richard Bough
    is a disgraced and retired M15 officer, played by
    Phil Davis
    (
    Vera Drake
    ,
    Bleak House
    ).

Real Tigers (Season 3)

The most well-received season of the series thus far, sitting at a 100% Fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, “Real Tigers” involves a kidnapping caper where Catherine Standish, a team member, is abducted by her ex-lover. The season introduced the “Tiger Team,” an M15 organization gone rogue that gets involved with Slough House. These actors only appear in season 3 of the show.

Related: Best Spy Thriller Movies Adapted from Books

  • Sean Donovan
    is a former head of security at the British embassy in Istanbul, played by
    Sope Dirisu
    (
    Gangs of London
    ,
    His House
    ).

  • Alison Dunn
    is an MI5 agent who uncovers a dark secret at the agency, played by
    Katherine Waterston
    (
    Fantastic Beasts
    ,
    Inherent Vice)
    .

  • Douglas
    is an M15 records keeper, played by
    Sion Young
    (
    Deciet
    ,
    Keeping Faith
    ).

  • Ben
    is a member of Donovan’s team, played by
    Charlie Rowe
    (
    Rocketman
    ,
    Salvation
    ).

  • Sarah
    is a member of Donovan’s team, played by
    Eliot Salt
    (
    Fate: The Winx Saga
    ).

  • Sly Monteith
    is the head of a private security firm, played by
    Gavin Spokes
    (
    House of the Dragon
    ,
    The Ipcress Film
    ).

  • Sturges
    is the Chieftain operative, played by
    Nick Blood
    (
    Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
    ).

Multiple Season Appearances

These cast members have appeared throughout various seasons but are outside the Slough House.

  • David Cartwright
    is River Cartwright’s grandfather, played by
    Jonathan Pryce
    (
    The Two Popes
    ,
    Tomorrow Never Dies
    ).

  • Nick Duffy
    is head of the M15 unit known as the “Dogs” (Season 1–3), played by
    Chris Reilly
    (
    Wrath of Man
    ,
    Everest).

  • Hobbs
    is a member of the Dogs (Seasons 1 & 3), played by
    Chris Coghill
    (
    Spike Island
    ,
    24 Hour Party People
    ).

  • Peter Judd
    is a right-wing politician who becomes Secretary of State. (Season 1–3), played by
    Samuel West
    (
    Howard’s End
    ,
    Van Helsing
    ).

  • Ingrid Tearney
    is the Director General of MI5 (Season 1 & 3), played by
    Sophie Okonedo
    (
    Hotel Rwanda
    ,
    Aeon Flux
    ).

  • James “Spider” Webb
    is an MI5 agent (Season 1–3), played by
    Freddie Fox
    (
    The Three Musketeers
    ).

  • Molly Doran
    is an MI5 record keeper (Season 2-3), played by
    Naomi Wirthner
    (
    Alex Rider
    ).

Stream Slow Horses on Apple TV+

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