Downton Abbey star to film ITV drama in York – and you could be in it

Best known for playing beloved housemaid Anna in Downton Abbey, this will be an altogether darker role for Joanne Froggatt. Photograph: ITV / Nick Briggs
23 Aug 2015 @ 10.39 am
| News

The makers of a new ITV drama featuring one of the stars of Downton Abbey are coming to York next week to recruit extras for the show.

Dark Angel, a two-part dramatisation of the life of Britain’s first female serial killer, stars Joanne Froggatt.

Best known for playing kind-hearted housemaid Anna in Downton, Joanne will take the lead role of Victorian poisoner Mary Ann Cotton.

Cotton went on a killing spree in the 1860s and 70s around the North East, marrying men and despatching them with arsenic before cashing their insurance policies.

The drama is supported by Screen Yorkshire and filming will include locations in York and Hull.

Get a piece of the action

If you would like to be an extra in Dark Angel, the team from Pop, the platform for casting supporting artists, would love to hear from you.

Pop has provided extras for Hollywood movies including Mr Holmes (2015), Everest (2015) and Night At The Museum: The Secret of the Tomb (2014).

On Tuesday (August 25) Pop will be in York to register new applicants for work as extras on the new show.

They are looking to cast a variety of roles within the project, so this opportunity is open to everyone aged 16 and above.

No previous acting experience is required and all work is paid.

As Dark Angel is a period drama series set in 1860, producers are looking for natural looks – women with long long hair and men with facial hair.

Interested? Apply online at

All those who do will receive an invite to register with Pop at the casting session next Tuesday.

Top team

The director of Downton Abbey is on board with the new project. Photograph: ITV / Nick Briggs
The director of Downton Abbey is on board with the new project. Photograph: ITV / Nick Briggs

Dark Angel has a top team behind it, led by Emmy and BAFTA award-winner Brian Percival, director of Downton Abbey.

It has been commissioned by ITV from World Productions, whose TV hits include Line Of Duty, The Bletchley Circle and Ballykissangel.

The writer is Gwyneth Hughes, who also wrote The Girl and Five Days.

Dark Angel is an extraordinary and chilling true story.

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.

– ITV controller of drama Victoria Fea

Murderous Mary

Poisoner: Mary Ann Cotton
Poisoner: Mary Ann Cotton

The drama is inspired by the book Mary Ann Cotton: Britain’s First Female Serial Killer by David Wilson.

Cotton travelled around the North East, insinuating herself into unsuspecting families.

She married and created new families of her own – before killing them, taking their money and moving on.

Before she was caught, Cotton had married four times – and three of her husbands had died sudden deaths.

She may have killed as many as 21 people, including 11 of her 13 children.

Cotton was hanged at Durham County Gaol on March 24, 1873. Her life became a nursery rhyme which included the lines:

Sing, sing, what can I sing?
Mary Ann Cotton, tied up with string.