Keeley Hawes, one of the breakout stars of Bodyguard, Veep’s Sally Phillips and Three Girls’ Jill Halfpenny have joined IFC and Channel 4’s comedy series Year of the Rabbit.

The trio have joined the show, which stars Toast of London’s Matt Berry, as it goes into production on location in the UK.

Hawes stars as the mysterious Lydia, Phillips is Princess Juliana of Bulgaria, and Halfpenny features as Rabbit’s ex, the deadly Flora.

The six-part series follows a group of Victorian detectives; Berry, who stars in Jim Hosking’s An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn and Matt Groening’s Netflix animation Disenchantment, plays Detective Inspector Rabbitt, a hardened booze-hound who’s seen it all, and his new, hapless, by-the-books partner, played by Parade End’s Freddie Fox. While investigating a local murder, the chief of police’s lewd but insightful adoptive daughter, played by Chewing Gum’s Susan Wokoma, becomes the country’s first female officer. Together, the trio must fight crime while rubbing shoulders with street gangs, crooked politicians, Bulgarian princes, spiritualists, music hall stars and the Elephant Man.

Also starring in the series are David Dawson (Last Kingdom), Ann Mitchell (Widows), Alistair Petrie (The Night Manager), Matthew Holness (Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace) and Craig Parkinson (Black Mirror: Bandersnatch).

The series is produced by All3Media-backed Objective Fiction after it was piloted by C4 in 2017. Year of the Rabbit is directed by Ben Taylor (Sex Education) and written by Andy Riley and Kevin Cecil (Veep), with additional material from Berry. Ben Farrell and Toby Stevens will executive produce for Objective Fiction and Objective Media Group Scotland, with Hannah Mackay producing.

Hawes said: “It’s great to be working with Matt, Susan and Freddie on such a brilliantly original show. Lydia is such an enigmatic character. It’s been a thoroughly enjoyable, bonkers experience.”

Phillips said, “I can report that there is literally nothing more pleasurable than playing a haughty, 19th Century, pansexual, Bulgarian autocrat with access to guns. I may have peaked.”

Halfpenny added: “I’m thrilled to be a part of Year of the Rabbit. It’s an amazing creative team and I’ve had the best time making it.”