Meet the cast of Three Girls

Who’s who in the BBC’s new true-crime drama following the Rochdale child grooming and sexual abuse scandal

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Three Girls is a three-part BBC dramatisation of the Rochdale sexual abuse scandal.

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Written by Nicole Taylor (The C Word) and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe (Call the Midwife), it tells the story of three of the children who were victims in the 2012 grooming and sex trafficking case, which made national headlines when it was uncovered by investigative reporter for The Times, Andrew Norfolk.

New to Rochdale, Holly is keen to make friends, but finds herself drawn into a frightening, adult world all too familiar to sexual health worker Sara. As her relationship with her family begins to disintegrate, Holly finds the courage to speak out about the abuse she is suffering.


Maxine Peake as Sara Rowbotham

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A sexual health worker in Rochdale, Sara has been recording and reporting cases of child abuse for years, and helps the girls.

Where do I recognise Maxine Peake from?

She is best known for her role as feisty lawyer Martha Costello in Silk. Peake’s also starred in Dinnerladies, alongside Victoria Wood, and Shameless. And you may have seen her in Criminal Justice and in acclaimed movie The Theory of Everything, in which she played Stephen Hawking’s nurse who he went on to marry.

Lesley Sharp as DC Margaret Oliver

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DC Margaret Oliver is a policewoman who is instrumental in getting the girls’ voices heard, she joins forces with Sara Rowbotham.

Where do I recognise Lesley Sharp from?

Sharp played DC Janet Scott in the ITV detective drama Scott & Bailey, and also recently appeared in Paranoid. You might have seen her in Clocking Off and 1997 comedy film The Full Monty.

Molly Windsor as Holly Winshaw

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Holly is a bright girl from a loving, working-class family lately fallen on hard times, prompting a fractious relationship with her father. She is one of the victims of grooming, assault and enforced prostitution.

Where do I recognise Molly Windsor from?

Windsor played Lucy in The Unloved and also starred in Oranges and Sunshine alongside Emily Watson.

Liv Hill as Ruby Bowen

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Ruby is curious about boys and booze, rebellious, wilful, and stroppy. She has learning difficulties and refers to her rapists as “friends”. She has a sister named Amber.

Where do I recognise Liv Hill from?

Three Girls is Hill’s first television role.

Ria Zmitrowicz as Amber Bowen

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Amber is Ruby’s sister, and the girl she is based on was forced to act as an enabler in the recruitment of younger girls to the sex ring.

Where do I recognise Ria Zmitrowicz from?

She is best known for her role as Miss Ellis in Mr Selfridge, and you might also have seen her in Channel 4 series Youngers.

Paul Kaye as Jim Windsor

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Jim is Holly’s father, who she has a strained relationship with.

Where do I recognise Paul Kaye from?

Kaye plays Thoros of Myr in Game of Thrones, and has had numerous other TV roles including Zapped, Humans, Stella and Pulling. He also appeared as an estate agent in the Woody Allen movie Match Point and will be remembered by those of a certain age for his comic creations Dennis Pennis and Mike Strutter.

Jill Halfpenny as Julie Windsor

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Julie is Holly’s mother.

Where do I recognise Jill Halfpenny from?

You might know Halfpenny from In the Club, Humans, Babylon, Waterloo Road or Byker Grove. Soap fans will remember her as EastEnders’ Kate Mitchell and Coronation Street’s Rebecca Hopkins.

Lisa Riley as Lorna Bowen

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Lorna is the single mother of Amber and Ruby. Her daughters ride roughshod over her attempts to impose authority.

Where do I recognise Lisa Riley from?

Riley is best known as Emmerdale’s Mandy Dingle, a role she played for over seven years. You may also have seen her in school drama Waterloo Road or as a contestant on the 2012 series of Strictly Come Dancing.

Ace Bhatti as Nazir Afzal

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Afzal is the Chief Crown Prosecutor for the North West, who brought the case.

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Where do I recognise Ace Bhatti from?

Bhatti has featured in many TV series, you may well have seen him appear briefly in Versailles, Vera, In the Club, Shetland, Inspector Lewis,  and Silent Witness. He has also played more regular parts in EastEnders, The Sarah Jane Adventures, Secret Diary of a Call Girl and The Bill.