Time: Cast, plot, trailer and everything you need to know about the BBC drama

This gritty prison drama from Jimmy McGovern boasts a stellar cast including Sean Bean as a guilt-ridden prisoner and Stephen Graham as his prison officer.

By Becky Gamester-Newton Published: 3 June 2021 - 4.10pm
BBC Sean Bean and Stephen Graham behind prison bars in BBC drama Time

When you’ve got a Jimmy McGovern prison drama starring Stephen Graham and Sean Bean, you know it’s going to be gritty stuff.

Time pulls no punches as it looks at the reality of prison life, revealing inmates and staff members at their most vulnerable as well as the shocking events that happen in the cells.

Here’s everything you need to know about this BBC drama…

Stephen Graham’s best TV roles

What is it about?


Time is a portrayal of life in a British prison, focusing on newly imprisoned Mark Cobden (Sean Bean) and prison officer Eric McNally (Stephen Graham).

Mark is consumed by guilt for his crime and is out of his depth in prison, while Eric faces an unenviable choice between his family and his principles.

Who’s in the cast?


Sean Bean (Game of Thrones, Sharpe) stars as teacher Mark alongside Stephen Graham (This Is England, Line of Duty) who plays prison officer Eric.


But they aren’t the only familiar faces. Time also boasts cast members including Siobhan Finneran (Happy Valley, The Other One), Sue Johnston (The Royle Family, Downton Abbey), Hannah Walters (This Is England, Pirates Of The Caribbean), James Nelson-Joyce (Little Boy Blue, The Virtues), David Calder (The World Is Not Enough, The Hatton Garden Job), Nadine Marshall (Small Axe, Sitting In Limbo), Michael Socha (This Is England, Being Human), Aneurin Barnard (Dunkirk, The Goldfinch, The Pact) and Jack McMullen (The First Team, The Souvenir).

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Speaking at a Q&A, Stephen Graham said he was "in awe" of the wider cast around him and Sean Bean.

“The amount of talent that I feel is on display in this… the cast around us is phenomenal. Hannah [Walters] obviously, she’s magnificent in the role, a beautifully understated performance," he smiles when talking about his wife, who plays Sonia.

“But then you have the likes of Bobby Schofield, James Nelson-Joyce, Jack [McMullen]… the list goes on. It’s exceptionally exciting.

“There was one day when I’d finished filming… I stayed back to watch Bobby because I just thought he was magnificent. To watch these young men – Jack as well, I watched Jack, I was in a scene with Jack and at one point I switched off because I was in awe of watching him when the camera wasn’t on me. I was just like, ‘wow, that kid’s phenomenal’. And James Nelson-Joyce as well, I’ve watched him from early on and I watched him do some stuff.

“These are young, working-class lads who to me are laying down some beautifully-judged, real, truthful, honest performances which is was an absolute joy to be a part of and to watch.”

In a case of art imitating life with Walters playing Graham's on-screen wife, director Lewis Arnold was keen to convey that she earned the part because she delivered the best audition.

He said: “Hannah has all the credit. Hannah auditioned for the part like everybody else and she was phenomenal. We loved her energy and we loved her understanding of the character. She was phenomenal and we were really blessed and lucky to have her."

Walters revealed: “I read everything before Stephen actually reads it. That’s what happened in this instance, the same as it usually happens.

“As soon as I read it, I was just blown away. I couldn’t stop reading it from the minute I started.

“I didn’t for one moment see myself see myself as Sonia. I just said to Stephen: ‘Whoever plays Sonia, has got to be super, super natural and real in this part. And then I let it go because I didn’t want to put myself forward.”

Is there a trailer?

Yes – you can watch the Time trailer below:

How can I watch it? How many episodes are there?

Time airs weekly on BBC One, starting at 9pm on Sunday, June 6.

There are three episodes – all of which will be available on BBC iPlayer once the first episode has aired.

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