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TV drama Dark Angel inspired by David Wilson's book Mary Ann Cotton

7 July 2015

Award-winning actress Joanne Froggatt is to star in a new ITV drama Dark Angel which is inspired by David Wilson's book Mary Ann Cotton: Britain's First Female Serial Killer.

ITV has commissioned a two-part drama, Dark Angel, from Line of Duty makers World Productions, based on the extraordinary true story of the Victorian poisoner Mary Ann Cotton, played by Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt.

David Wilson, one of the UK’s best-known criminologists, gave his reaction: "I'm both delighted and excited that the book has inspired Dark Angel and, having read the script, I know it's going to be a huge success."

We meet Mary Ann as a loving wife and mother, newly returned to her native North East of England. But faced with abject poverty and an ailing husband, we see how ruthlessly determined she is to pursue her desires - and a better life ...

Mary Ann is a very female serial killer, a poisoner whose methods leave no visible scars, allowing her tally of victims to mount unsuspected by a Victorian society unable to conceive of a woman capable of such terrible crimes. Travelling around the North East, she insinuates herself into unsuspecting families, marrying and creating new families of her own - before killing them, taking their money and moving on.

Through adultery, bigamy, fraud and murder, Mary Ann betters herself socially and financially. But the more she kills, the greater the risk her crimes will finally be exposed …

"Sing? Sing? What song should I sing? Mary Ann Cotton is tied up in string"

The show is supported by Screen Yorkshire's Yorkshire Content Fund. International Distribution will be handled by Endemol Shine International.

ITV's Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea have commissioned the drama.

"Dark Angel is an extraordinary and chilling true story," said Victoria. "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."

Dark Angel is written by Gwyneth Hughes (The Girl, Five Days) and will be directed by Emmy and BAFTA award-winner Brian Percival (Downton Abbey).

The drama is inspired by the book Mary Ann Cotton: Britain's First Female Serial Killer by David Wilson, which is published by Waterside Press.

The drama is produced by Jake Lushington (The Bletchley Circle,The Devil's Whore) and executive produced by Kirstie Macdonald (The Fear) and Simon Heath (Line of Duty, Code of a Killer) for World Productions.

Executive Producer Simon Heath said: "We've long been huge fans of Gwyn, Brian and Joanne's work, so it's a real privilege to bring all three together on one unique drama"

Filming is due to begin in August in North Yorkshire and County Durham.

Further casting will be announced before filming commences.

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