Lesley Manville has revealed that she was on standby for filming on Netflix's The Crown while shooting new BBC drama Sherwood.


Manville plays Julie Jackson in the series, wife of Gary (Alun Armstrong) who is murdered. Gary was a miner who joined the strike in the 1980s, and as shown in the series, he makes sure everyone knows it. His death comes after he discovers a shocking betrayal within the community.

Julie's loyalty towards her husband has led to an estrangement from her sister Cathy (played by Claire Rushbrook), whose own husband was on the other side of the picket line.

Speaking about taking on her latest role, Manville showed her appreciation for the team behind Sherwood, who supported her commitment to both of her ongoing projects.

"The cast that they were assembling was amazing, really – really amazing," she explains. "I didn't know Lewis (Arnold) our director but I'd watched Time, which is extraordinary. Full marks to them, they hung out for me because I was on first call to The Crown."

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Lesley Manville in Sherwood rushing out of her house with a shocked expression on her face
Lesley Manville as Julie Jackson in Sherwood. House Productions/Matt Squire

The actress explained that the nature of the pandemic, and filming schedules for The Crown - in which she will play Princess Margaret in the season 5 - meant that she could have had to drop out of shooting for Sherwood at short notice.

"Having me do it came with a massive risk for the team because they knew that any day, especially in the COVID climate, I could ring and say, 'Oh I can't get there tomorrow, The Crown need me'. It was a great act of faith."

Asked what inspired her to take on the character of Julie, Manville explained: "The script. It's always script, script, script. However great the team might be, if the scripts are turkey you're never going to be able to make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Also, I know and love James's [Graham, Sherwood's creator and Executive Producer] work.

"Plus, I was doing The Crown, playing Princess Margaret. I'd done Magpie Murders, playing a nice, middle-class woman and I thought that this was the time to play somebody who's not just a socially different class, but somebody who's got a kind of unashamed rawness about her. Somebody who is just very open and honest."

Leslie Manville and Claire Rushbrook in Sherwood.
Lesley Manville and Claire Rushbrook in Sherwood. House Productions / Matt Squire / BBC

Sherwood is set in Nottinghamshire, and is inspired by real events. Discussing Sherwood's backdrop of the miners' strike, Manville recalled that she witnessed the era first-hand.

"Around the time of the strike in the '80s, I was asked to join a group of writers and actresses, all women, to workshop a play for the Royal Court Theatre in London about the women behind pit closures," she said.

"So, I actually went to Barnsley age 23. We got up and went to a picket line. It was horses and riot shields and police screaming and shouting miners. I'm not good with any sort of aggression and confrontation and potential violence; I can argue, but as soon as things become physical, something shuts down in me. When we went to this picket line, it was serious. I really lost my bottle and I had to leave.

"And I suppose, because of that experience when I was in my twenties with the strike, I thought that I know this world a little bit, and what a challenge it will be to play [Julie]."

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Sherwood will air on BBC One and BBC iPlayer from Monday 13th June at 9pm. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or visit our dedicated Drama hub for the latest news.


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