The new period comedy Wicked Little Letters – which boasts Olivia Colman and Jessie Buckley as its main stars – tells the story of a scandal that rocked a small English town in the 1920s.


Based in Littlehampton, it follows the events after a woman named Edith Swan (Colman) begins to receive a series of obscene letters from a mysterious source, and instantly suspects her boisterous and irreverent Irish neighbour Rose (Buckley) as the culprit.

Although the film takes a few dramatic liberties, it is very much based on a true story – and this is something that star Timothy Spall was "delighted" to find out, as he revealed during an exclusive interview with

"I read it and assumed it was a very well realised conceit," he explained. "But it's not, and I was delighted to find that it was based on truth!

"And sometimes you go. 'Well course it was', because these preposterous things often work because you go 'Really?'"

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Spall also explained that he didn't research the true story "that much" before starting production, in part because he was able to draw upon people he'd met and known early in his life when taking on the role of Edith's stern, no-nonsense father Edward.

"I'm old enough to have known men of my grandfather's generation," he said. "I met neither – they were both gone when I was a kid, my grandfathers – but there were plenty of stories of men of that kind in and around the families, difficult men who had difficulty bringing up their kids.

Jessie Buckley and Olivia Colman in Wicked Little Letters
Jessie Buckley and Olivia Colman in Wicked Little Letters StudioCanal

"So it didn't feel that far away. I kind of recognised him as examples of various martinets I'd encountered or heard of, you know, so it was quite interesting to find myself channeling some of that."

While Spall didn't do much in the way of research, his co-star Anjana Vasan, who takes on the role os Sussex's first female police officer Gladys Moss, revealed that she was eager to find out as much as possible about the period.

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"When I read the script, I didn't know it was a real story until the very end," she said. "And then I sort of just dove straight into finding out as much information as possible. Not just about the characters, but the time period and what it might have been like, what Littlehampton might have been like."

She added: "But what's wonderful is Johnny [Sweet]'s script is a real mix of both genuine truth and research and historical fact, but also his wonderful imagination. So you do all that research, it's all very interesting, and it informs some of your choices.

"But ultimately, you know, the script kind of gives you I think, enough to work with and then you arrive on set and then it's just very fun and playful with this brilliant cast."

Wicked Little Letters comes to cinemas on Friday 23rd February. Check out more of our Film coverage or visit our TV Guide and Streaming Guide to find out what's on.


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