Anna Friel on Bro­ken

Anna Friel on lov­ing be­ing dressed down to play a trou­bled mum, fi­nally re­turn­ing to Liver­pool and why she re­jected a film role to make Bro­ken

TV Times - - My TV Times Week - Caren Clark


tues­day / bbc1 / 9.00Pm

It’s more than two decades since Anna

Friel be­came a house­hold name when she burst onto our screens as trou­bled Beth Jor­dache in Brook­side.

Now, af­ter carv­ing out a ca­reer on the big screen and ap­pear­ing in US se­ries such as Push­ing Daisies and in ITV crime thriller Mar­cella, the 40-year-old is de­lighted to be back in Liver­pool film­ing BBC1’S pow­er­ful drama Bro­ken, which con­tin­ues this week.

‘I’ve not been in Liver­pool for 23 years!’ says Anna as

TV Times chats with her in a trailer on set. ‘I was only here for 16 months when I did Brook­side and I didn’t get to know the city be­cause I was film­ing the en­tire time, so com­ing back is an odd turn of events. ‘I re­cently turned 40 and things have come full cir­cle to where I was at 16. Liver­pool is great now, though.

I’ve not felt in­tim­i­dated in some of the sup­pos­edly hard­est places. The peo­ple are kind and lovely and the place is pris­tine.’ ‘Pris­tine’ is per­haps not the word the usu­ally glam­orous Anna would use to de­scribe her own at­tire when we meet. She is just about to film scenes as her char­ac­ter, strug­gling mum-of-three Christina Fitzsim­mons, and is sport­ing a scruffy bet­ting- shop uni­form and sev­eral fake cuts and bruises from the fight she had with her boss in the first episode.

‘It’s great not hav­ing to put your eye­lashes on, you can come in and look re­ally rub­bish,’ she laughs. ‘I only packed train­ers and jog­ging

bot­toms for when I’m not film­ing, but the other night I went to a posh restau­rant so I had to go shop­ping quickly!’

Last week we saw christina fired from her job af­ter the fight, and, un­able to claim ben­e­fits, she re­sorted to ex­treme mea­sures to pro­vide for her chil­dren. Now she faces the con­se­quences of her ac­tions.

‘Like the name of the se­ries, she is in­cred­i­bly bro­ken. She has worked hard, only to fall on des­per­ate times. We’ve seen how far she will go and what she’ll do to pro­tect her chil­dren, and now we see what that costs her,’ says Anna. ‘My re­search taught me how hard it is for a mother who loses her job. I couldn’t be­lieve you can’t claim ben­e­fits for 13 weeks. How are you meant to feed your kids? It’s tragic.’

The one per­son on Christina’s side is car­ing pri­est Fa­ther Michael, played by Sean Bean, who tries to speak up for her as she faces the au­thor­i­ties.

‘Michael can feel that she’s in pain and he reaches out to her – he’s never judge­men­tal,’ says Anna, who got an in­sight into the chal­lenges faced by a pri­est like Fa­ther Michael by talk­ing to her cousin.

‘He was a monk and then be­came a pri­est. He is the kind­est, most won­der­ful man; he’s just got an aura and en­ergy about him.’

The chance to co-star with Sean Bean was one that Anna jumped at.

‘I’m a big fan of his and ev­ery­one had told me he was lovely to work with,’ she says. ‘He’s just warm, gen­tle and com­pas­sion­ate, and so peace­ful and calm. He has played this part so beau­ti­fully.’

Work­ing on Bro­ken has also

given Anna the op­por­tu­nity to re­unite with the drama’s cre­ator, Jimmy Mcgovern, af­ter play­ing an­other des­per­ate mum in his se­ries The Street in 2009.

‘I was of­fered a movie at the same time as Bro­ken and I couldn’t do both so I had to make a de­ci­sion and it was a no-brainer to do this,’ says Anna. ‘Jimmy is my favourite writer; I love him be­cause he is so open and has this lovely North­ern­ness and his work al­ways shines a light on how things re­ally are for peo­ple.’

Rochdale-born Anna will start film­ing a sec­ond se­ries of Mar­cella this sum­mer, so does work­ing on that and Bro­ken mean that Bri­tain has won her back from Hol­ly­wood?

‘I just go with who­ever is the best writer and who will stretch me, but do­ing Mar­cella was a nice rein­tro­duc­tion to the world of Bri­tish TV and it’s worked out re­ally well,’ she smiles . ‘And work­ing on

Bro­ken has been great be­cause I’ve been able to see my baby [daugh­ter Gra­cie, 11, with for­mer part­ner, ac­tor David Thewlis] at week­ends.’

anna has been on our screens since she was just 13, when she took her first pro­fes­sional job as Michael Palin’s daugh­ter in award­win­ning drama 1991 GBH, but she ad­mits she has mixed feel­ings about Gra­cie fol­low­ing in her foot­steps.

‘Gra­cie has been of­fered so much work but, for David and I, it’s about whether the right thing arises; but it has to be her de­ci­sion and it has to be the right en­vi­ron­ment,’ says Anna. ‘I’m so pro­tec­tive of chil­dren work­ing in this in­dus­try be­cause I know all the pit­falls.’

bro­ken is pre­viewed on pages 56-57

It was a no-brainer to choose Bro­ken over a film

call to arms: anna Friel faces tough times in Bro­ken

the ac­tress’s off-screen look

is very glam

anna and Ni­cola stephen­son’s in­fa­mous 1994 kiss in Brook­side the star as trou­bled mum-of-three christina Fitzsim­mons in Bro­ken... ...and as ds back­land in Itv’s Mar­cella

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