From Downton Abbey to Dark Angel: Joanne Froggatt to play Victorian serial killer in new ITV drama

The actress best known as housemaid Anna Bates in the hit period drama will play real-life murderer, bigamist and adulteress Mary Ann Cotton

Downton Abbey might be coming to an end later this year when its sixth and final season airs, but fans will be pleased to hear that one of the show’s stars won’t be absent from our screens for long. 


Joanne Froggatt, who plays beloved housemaid Anna in the hit period drama, is poised to lead another ITV series. It’s directed by Brian Percival, who has worked on episodes of Downton, and she’ll even be in period dress, travelling back to Victorian times to star in upcoming two-part mini drama Dark Angel. 

But that’s where the similarities end, because the character she’ll be playing couldn’t be more different from sweet, honest, kind-hearted (and hopefully innocent) Mrs Bates… 

Froggatt is set to play real-life murderer Mary Ann Cotton in her first post-Downton role. Cotton, dubbed Britain’s first female serial killer, racked up an extraordinarily high body count, secretly poisoning her victims to better herself socially and financially while remaining unsuspected by Victorian society. 

We will be introduced to her as a loving wife and mother who is faced with extreme poverty and an ailing husband. The drama will follow her as she takes ruthless measures, integrating “herself into unsuspecting families, marrying and creating new families of her own – before killing them, taking their money and moving on.”

“Dark Angel is an extraordinary and chilling true story,” said ITV’s controller of drama Victoria Fea. “We’re delighted to have an actress of Joanne Froggatt’s calibre in the lead role. The combination of a tautly written script, an outstanding cast and great producers in World Productions make this a really exciting addition to the ITV drama slate,” 

Inspired by David Wilson’s book, the drama has been written by Gwyneth Hughes. Filming will begin this summer in North Yorkshire and County Durham. 


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