Minor characters in the House of Cards trilogy

Minor characters in the House of Cards trilogy

This article is about characters in the "House of Cards" trilogy who are not Francis Urquhart. The trilogy consists of three miniseries, "House of Cards", "To Play the King" and "The Final Cut", all based on identically-titled novels by Michael Dobbs.

Elizabeth Urquhart

Elizabeth Urquhart is the wife of Francis Urquhart. She is almost the power behind the throne, often compared to Lady Macbeth. She identifies her husband's powers and abilities and often persuades him to use a given situation to his advantage as her character gains importance over the trilogy. When Francis is overlooked for a Cabinet promotion by Prime Minister Henry Collingridge, it is Elizabeth who encourages him to plot to remove Collingridge and take office himself. She condones and almost plans his affair with a young, naïve journalist - Mattie Storin - so that he may gain her trust and use his position to feed information to her, thereby influencing her articles.

It is implied in the first installment of the trilogy that murdering Roger O'Neill (a colleague who Francis had been using to his advantage) is initially her idea. Unlike her husband, who clearly feels remorse after killing, she is cold and callous and does not seem to have a problem with arranging murders to suit their purposes, as well as using her beauty for evil. However she does truly love her husband, and everything she does is for him in the end, and kills him out of love for him and to spare him the disgrace and agony of exposure, resignation, trial, life imprisonment, and eternal historical damnation.

In the TV version of the "The Final Cut", she has Francis murdered to secure their positive legacies and their (or with her husband's death, her) pension. Before he dies, she, her right eye spattered with his blood, lovingly holds him in her arms and assures him gently: 'Francis; my dear. It was the only way, my darling. You do understand?' Whereas, visa versa, Urquhart's love for Elizabeth is shown where the last word on his lips is a gurgled, death-like 'Elizabeth'.

In the TV series she was played by Diane Fletcher.

Tim Stamper, MP

Tim Stamper was (initially) one of Francis Urquhart's closest friends and aides; in the first series, he is a Junior Whip to Urquhart as Chief Whip; in the second series, he himself is Chief Whip and later Chairman of the Conservative Party. Stamper did not appear in the "House of Cards" novel on which the BBC series was based, though the series' author, Michael Dobbs, introduced him in "To Play the King".

In the first installment of the "House of Cards" trilogy Stamper was loyal to Urquhart, however by "To Play the King" he was embittered and felt that his loyalty and efforts were unappreciated. As a result, Stamper decided to release a tape to the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) incriminating Urquhart in the murder of Mattie Storin and Roger O'Neill. When Urquhart became aware of these plans, he had Corder murder Stamper and Sarah Harding (one of his own personal aides to whom Stamper had given a copy of the tape) with car bombs. Stamper appeared to have unfortunate delusions of grandeur; his plan was to force Urqhuart's resignation and replace him as Prime Minister, albeit with a deal of sadness at having to do it. He stated that all he ever wished to do was to serve Urquhart, and it is clear from both "House of Cards" and parts of "To Play the King" that he would have been loyal to him until the end. However it is Urquhart's cruel acts of throwing Stamper's loyalty back into his face that drove him to try and ruin his old master.

Stamper was played by Colin Jeavons

Mattie Storin

Mattie Storin is a journalist for the fictional "Chronicle", who becomes romantically involved with Francis Urquhart. She is killed at the end of "House of Cards" by Urquhart, who throws her off the fictitious roof garden of the House of Commons. She knew about his illegal actions, and he did not believe that she would keep quiet about them.

In the series, she displays evidence of instability, most alarmingly her preference for calling Urquhart 'daddy' in moments of intimacy. This apparent Electra complex could be linked to her father's death when she was very young, an event revealed in "To Play the King" when Urquhart explains her 'sad' story to Sarah Harding when she is ordered to ask him by some homeless thugs. Aside from this kink, she is portrayed as a headstrong, talented, beautiful young woman who is determined to understand the way the Westminster Bubble works and even states that this is more important to her than getting 'scoop headlines'.

Mattie was played in the TV series by Susannah Harker.

Lord Billsborough and Michael Samuels, MP

Teddy Billsborough is Chairman of the Conservative Party. He is a canny political operator but past his prime. His young Jewish protégé Michael Samuels is Environment Secretary and on the 'liberal' wing of the Conservative Party. Billsborough becomes Urquhart's unwitting pawn when Urquhart tells Collingridge, and hints to Mattie and press, that it is Billsborough who is betraying him (it is in fact Urquhart), whereupon Collingridge sacks him. Samuels is a frontrunner and ultimately Urquhart's chief rival for the Conservative leadership when Collingridge resigns.


Corder served as Francis Urquhart's bodyguard for twelve years and was connected to the security services. During his time in this role he proved to be a callous killer who appeared to feel no compassion for the people he killed (nor really even to Urquhart, his master after he finally has him killed).

Tim Stamper and Sarah Harding

Tim Stamper and Sarah Harding were two people who had originally been the Prime Minister's most loyal supporters but had decided to expose him after a tape implicating him in the murders of Mattie Storin and Roger O'Neill, surfaced. Stamper wanted him removed so he could replace him and Harding was genuinely shocked by the news; thinking that her lover, Urquhart could never, and would never commit such an evil action. Corder subsequently had their cars rigged with bombs, killing them both.

Motorway incident

Whilst driving the Prime Minister back to 10 Downing Street late one night, the Prime Minister's car was smashed off the road by a van of hooligans. Three men emerged from the car declaring 'Let's 'ave some fun!'. Another bodyguard shot one of them, perceiving him to be armed when yelling 'Right. 'O wants some?!'. Corder shot the other two - one of them in the back whilst running in terror. Corder announced that an investigation (headed by himself) would be launched concerning the incident. He falsely claimed that the three men were armed and had been a serious threat.

Thatcher Day

At the unveiling of Margaret Thatcher's statue Corder had the Prime Minister and Evanghelos Passoledes (father of Maria Passoledes, who helps her father investigate the deaths of her uncles, Georgios and Euripides, who actually Urquhart murdered on his tour of duty in Cyprus in 1956), a man who wanted Urquhart dead, killed by a sniper on a balcony above Parliament Square, just after honouring the memorial with singing "God Save the King".

Corder was played by Nick Brimble.

Tom Makepeace, MP

Tom Makepeace served under Francis Urquhart in the dual role of Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, then Prime Minister. He and Urqhuart frequently clashed over Europe and various domestic policies.

Following a major dispute with Urqhuart over Urquhart's (turning to be fake) proposal of a single language for Europe, Makepeace was fired from the Cabinet. He was offered the post of Secretary of State for Education (a traditional 'dumping ground' post) but declined it. Enraged he promptly issued a press statement announcing that he had decided to resign from the Cabinet. He subsequently resigned from the government and sat as an independent MP on the Opposition benches.

Leadership contest

Despite being an independent MP, Makepeace announced he would be challenging the Prime Minister for the leadership of the Conservative Party. He failed to win the first ballot but managed to force a second one. Urqhuart was killed before the second ballot thus enabling him to win the election unopposed.

Makepeace was played by Paul Freeman.

Book version

Makepeace was Foreign Secretary in the book and resigned after the European single language proposal. He did not challenge for the leadership, becoming a renegade MP and became associated with the Passolhides's, even to the extent of having an affair with Maria. He was present when Urquhart was shot, but he did not win the Premiership after being tainted by Evanghelos Passolhides who killed Urquhart and Makepeace's association with him proved fatal to his career. The Premiership went to Maxwell Stanbrook, the Environment Secretary.

Henry Collingridge, MP

Henry 'Hal' Collingridge is the successor to Margaret Thatcher in "House of Cards". The part of Collingridge in the television adaptation was played by David Lyon.

Collingridge is portrayed as being a decent man and a passive indecisive leader who relies heavily on the support of his most trusted cronies and Cabinet Ministers Francis Urquhart and Lord 'Teddy' Billsborough. At the start of the novel (and TV adaptation) he has just led to his party to victory in a general election (albeit with a very reduced majority).

Prime Minister

In his first reshuffle he made the decision not to make any changes to the government, arguing that a massive shake-up could be misconstrued as panic. This proves to be a mistake as this enrages Urquhart who longs for revenge for not being promotion to the Cabinet.

Collingridge's brief time in office proved difficult for him thanks to Urquhart who proceeded to embarrass his boss by leaking delicate information to the press and one of the Labour Party backbenchers, Stephen Kendrick. Finally a fabricated scandal concerning his alcoholic brother forced him to resign from office after about a year. Ironically when he refused to hold a reshuffle he argued that the Night of the Long Knives caused one of his predecessors to 'be out [of office] within a year'.

He was succeeded by Urquhart, who, in a final twist of irony, Collingridge offered to support.

In office: late November 1990 to early December 1991.

Patrick Woolton, MP

Patrick Woolton was a minor character in the first installment. He served as Foreign Secretary under Henry Collingridge. Woolton had a reputation as a womanising lecher, racist, anti-Semite, xenophobe and bully, or as Urquhart says in "House of Cards", 'The man's a lout of course. A lout, a lecher, a racist, an anti-Semite, and a bully. He is more intelligent than he seems, and he is, we mustn't forget, Her Majesty's Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. We must not make the mistake of underestimating Patrick Woolton.' He made two unsuccessful bids for the leadership of the Conservative Party. In the first contest he lost to Collingridge (he later admitted to Urquhart he was the best candidate). In the second contest he was blackmailed into withdrawing by Urquhart sending him a tape of him having sex with Penny Guy (Roger O'Neill's assistant and mistress). He vowed that 'he would be back' but as he is absent from the later sequels it is clear that his career ended. He was played by Malcolm Tierney.

Geoffrey Booza-Pitt, MP

Geoffrey Booza-Pitt is a lesser member of Urquhart's Cabinet (mentioned at one stage as Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster) in "The Final Cut". He is something of a 'character', cheerfully upper-class with a slightly eccentric sense of humour, notable for wearing colorful waistcoats and bow ties, and a fondness for the fairer sex. Urquhart promotes him to Foreign Secretary: Geoffrey is an Urquhart loyalist and in any case lacks the credibility to be a rival, and his popular image as a cute buffoon (though he is actually clever) humiliates his predecessor, also earning him a reputation as Urquhart's 'glove-puppet' (as Tom Makepeace calls him in his statement of resignation) and the consequent nickname of Sooty by both the Opposition and other Members of the Cabinet and Parliamentary Party.

Book versionIn the book, Geoffrey follows a similar plot to the TV version. However he is Transport Secretary to start with and later Home Secretary. He has an affair with his Party constituency Chairman's wife. His political career survives under Urquharts successor, Maxwell Stanbrook.

Claire Carlsen, MP

Claire Carlsen is a backbencher whose ability and intelligence prompt Urquhart to make her his Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS), even though he knows (and lets her know he knows after scaring her with the fact that he might not know, and her being too much of a blabbermouth) she is having an affair with his rival Tom Makepeace. Her sexual and professional relationship with Makepeace gives her the role of double agent: telling many genuine, and sometimes damaging facts about Makepeace to Urquhart, and the cold, evil traits and weaknesses of Urquhart to Makepeace. In the end she helps Makepeace destroy Urquhart, by fraudulently acquiring a paper documenting Lieutenant Francis Urquhart's killing of Evanghelos Passolodes' two brothers in Cyprus in 1956. This, in addition to Mattie Storin's tape of her murder by Urquhart, and the confession of Urquhart's murder of Roger O'Neill, makes Elizabeth Urquhart and Corder arrange for Urquhart's subsequent killing on Margaret Thatcher Day, when there is no hope of Urquhart continuing to be safely in office.

A slight alteration is in the novel instead of her career losing momentum at the end, Claire is promoted to a junior Minister by new Prime Minister Stanbrook.

Carlsen was played in the television adaption by Isla Blair.

Maxwell Stanbrook, MP

Max Stanbrook is a Minister in Francis Urquhart's government promoted to Environment Secretary by Urquhart after he sacks Annita Burke. He is put in charge of preventing the construction of the Thatcher statue by Urquhart. When he can't find a reason to stop its construction, Urquhart gives him a lecture about following orders. He is later revealed to be Jewish and of dubious parentage. After Francis Urquhart is killed, it is Stanbrook who prevails over harsh candidates like Arthur Bollingroke to become Prime Minister. He (thanks to Urquhart's death, which granted a sympathy vote) wins a landslide majority in Parliament.

He is not featured at all in the TV version.

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