Viewers can’t believe BBC drama Mrs Wilson is based on a true story

Ruth Wilson plays her own grandmother in the new BBC1 drama – and her strange family history makes for remarkable television

Otto Farrant plays Nigel Wilson in Mrs Wilson

Viewers still can’t quite believe that new BBC1 drama Mrs Wilson is based on a true story – let alone that its star Ruth Wilson is playing her own grandmother.

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The former Luther star created the series after discovering that her grandmother Alison had discovered that her husband Alec, an MI6 spy, secretly had four wives, none of whom knew about each other, and seven children.

Unsurprisingly, it makes for an engrossing story – and viewers are enjoying it all the more because it’s based in reality.

“Blimey,” Stephen Balderson wrote on Twitter. “I never realised this was a true story and now I find out Ruth Wilson is playing her own grandmother.”

Amber Jackson added, “Mrs Wilson is such an incredible story of deception, falsification and intrigue. It’s truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before – and the fact that this is one huge, true story about one man’s actions is mind-blowing! Can’t wait to see more.”

Actress Ruth Wilson never met her grandfather in person, as he died of a heart attack almost two decades before she was born.

However, her grandmother Alison Wilson wrote a memoir about her life with Alec in two parts, which she gave to her children and grandchildren when Ruth was a teenager.

One part was to be read in her lifetime, and one to be read after her death which came in 2005.

She writes of the realisation that her husband was “one vast lie. He had not only died, he had evaporated into nothing. He had destroyed himself, there was nothing left but a heap of ashes. My love was reduced to a heap of ashes.”

Find out more about the real story behind the drama here.

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This article was originally published on 28 November 2018