nullThis spring, the third series of the critically acclaimed, hugely popular BBC drama "The Syndicate," from BAFTA award winning writer Kay Mellor OBE, returns to BBC One. And this time around, Lenny Henry is coming along for the ride, along with Anthony Andrews and Elizabeth Berrington. The trio will headline the new series.

The story, courtesy of the BBC: It’s 2015 and the once impressive Hazelwood Manor, which overlooks all of Scarborough and is the family home of the Hazelwoods, has now fallen into disrepair. Lord Hazelwood (Anthony Andrews) is fading fast, but Lady Hazelwood (Alice Krige), his second wife, seems more concerned with maintaining the lifestyle she’s become accustomed to whilst his stepson Spencer (Sam Phillips) seems intent on spending his inheritance as quickly as possible. What is left of the estate is rapidly disappearing on fast cars, fancy yachts and living the high life despite rising debts… all behind the back of the ailing Lord Hazelwood. Meanwhile "downstairs" they have had to seriously reduce their staff; once there were 30, now there are only five left: gardener Godfrey (Lenny Henry), housekeeper Sarah (Cara Theobold), cleaner Dawn (Elizabeth Berrington), cook Julie (Melanie Hill), and groomsman cum odd-job man Sean (Richard Rankin).

Lenny Henry’s Godfrey character formed the lottery syndicate with his colleagues years ago, as he was convinced he could work out how to win it mathematically. He is a person with high functioning Asperger’s syndrome and as the series opens he is certain he’s finally cracked the system. He gives cleaner Dawn a list of this week’s ‘winning lottery numbers’ according to his statistics. A series of mishaps ensues and all seems lost – but then it hits them: seemingly against all the odds, they have won £14 million, as we relish the joy of our syndicate’s journey from "downstairs" to "upstairs," until one of them goes missing. The police investigation uncovers clues and raises suspicions. Secrets and backstories are revealed as we try to find out who done it… and just how well do our syndicate really know each other?

Executive Producer Polly Hill, Head of Independent Drama for the BBC, comments: “Kay’s brilliantly crafted characters and script, combined with a fresh and exciting cast, will ensure our new series is packed full of gripping stories that our BBC One audience has come to expect from The Syndicate.”

Kay Mellor says: “’The Syndicate 3′ is a completely new series, with a fresh new world and brand new characters, the staff of a crumbling stately home: the Cook, House Manager, Gardener, Cleaner and Game Keeper. It’s about new money – ordinary people who win a life changing amount of money on the lottery. I was excited by the idea of setting the syndicate winners amongst the old money of a crumbling stately home, where Lord and Lady Hazel – wood’s inherited money is fast running out. It’s a delicious premise which enables me to look at class and social politics within the framework of a drama – ‘downstairs’ becoming instantly wealthier than ‘upstairs’. I’m able to explore how the lack of money and greed have a devastating effect and how a sudden change in fortune can bring about its own problems.”

Lenny Henry says: “I’m delighted to be co-starring in series 3 of The Syndicate – I’ve been a big fan of Kay Mellor’s since ‘Band of Gold’ and ‘Playing the Field,’ so to actually be on set with her as writer/director is just lovely.”

The Syndicate 3 is written by Kay Mellor. It is produced by Yvonne Francas, and directed by Kay Mellor and Dominic LeClerc. The Executive Producers are Kay Mellor and Polly Hill. It is a Rollem production for BBC One.