"Charlie and I have the perfect relationship. I see him when I feel like it and he does exactly what I say." That's about as affectionate as Victoria Chapman gets about her husband in The Cinder Path, and Catherine Zeta-Jones is perfectly cast in the role of this sly, seductive, cat-like beauty. Perhaps the most femme fatale-like character in all of Cookson, Victoria is bad news for any man who meets her - most of all poor Charlie MacFell, who soon realises what a heartless, faithless person he's married.
Fans of True Blood may well bolt up on the sofa when they catch sight of a young Stephen Moyer in The Secret. He plays Marcel Birkstead, who may not be a vampire, but more than makes up for that in other kinds of nastiness.
An emotionally stunted control freak who's either being cloyingly clingy or throwing violent tantrums, he's one of Catherine Cookson's most pitiful villains, and a million miles away from True Blood's Bill Compton.
Rory Connor, aka The Gambling Man, is a rogue with a heart of gold and a twinkle in his eye. So you can see why Robson Green was the ideal casting for this particular Cookson hero.
Yes, he may be a rent collector, but he's the type who gives poor families every chance to pay up, and smiles warmly at the little tykes who yell at him to go away when he turns up at the doorstep. It's just too bad that his gambling addiction gets him into so much bother...
So young and chiselled that his cheekbones can conceivably be used to cut stone, Sean Bean isn't actually the main character in The Fifteen Streets. Instead, he's Dominic O'Brien, the ne'er do well brother of the heroic John, and spends a lot of his time scowling at things and shouting "Where's me tea?" He also drinks a lot, gets into scraps, and generally rubs everyone up the wrong way. Still, he is Sean Bean, which makes him utterly magnetic to watch no matter how brutish and troublesome his character gets.
A tousle-haired Nigel Havers plays up his bad side in The Glass Virgin, and he's clearly having a lot of fun while doing so. As glassworks manager Edmund LaGrange, he's a petty tyrant who likes to stride around barking orders at his wife, terrorizing the staff, and frolicking with random women in his secret chamber of carnal delights. He's also fond of waving his stick angrily at people. Who knew Nigel Havers could play such a flamboyant villain?
She's more or less a national treasure these days, but Jane Horrocks was an unknown when cast as the fiercely determined Christine Bracken.
Her talent shines through in this small but intense role, which sees her playing a Christian mystic who comes up against Catholic prejudice - and a very lusty Sean Bean - in The Fifteen Streets.
Brendan Coyle may have become an unlikely heartthrob as the buttoned-up Bates in Downton Abbey, but there's nothing unlikely about his romantic appeal in The Glass Virgin.
Here we see the young Coyle in full-on hunky hero mode as the dashing Manuel Mendoza. A sturdy, salt-of-the-earth chap, we see him save a girl's life, punch a bad guy to the ground and become the sworn protector of a traumatised runaway - and that's only in the first half of the story.
We're used to seeing Emilia Fox in various strong and gutsy roles on screen. But in The Round Tower, the young Emilia stars as a woman trapped in the unenlightened 1950s, where she falls pregnant to the wrong man and marries someone just to save her social reputation.
Beautiful and fragile, she is completely right in the role of Vanessa Ratcliffe, who's swept along by the currents of her time. Look out as well for Coupling's Ben Miles as her upwardly-mobile husband.