Sheridan Smith and Olivia Colman are to star as rivals for the affections of a middle-aged man who is stuck in a rut in a new BBC One drama.

Novelist David Nicholls, whose books One Day and Starter For Ten have become hit movies, has written two-part romantic drama The 7.39.

David Morrissey stars as Carl Matthews, a married 45-year-old with a predictable life who becomes reinvigorated after meeting another woman on his regular 7.39am commute.

Olivia – who drew acclaim for her role in ITV’s Broadchurch – stars as his college sweetheart wife Maggie, while Sheridan plays Sally, the new woman in his life, whom he meets as they squabble over a seat on the train.

Nicholls said: “The 7.39 is a love story for grown-ups, the sort of drama that has not been seen on television for a while.

“I’m delighted to be writing for the BBC again and working with such a terrific cast and production team.”

Ben Stephenson, controller of BBC drama commissioning, said: “I’m bowled over by the award-winning and stellar cast starring in The 7.39. But it’s perhaps no surprise given the wonderful scripts by David Nicholls, in his first television drama since his novel One Day became a worldwide phenomenon.

“Like that novel, The 7.39 is laugh-out-loud funny, painfully truthful, emotionally agonising and brilliantly British,” he said.