Dowton Abbey's Joanne Froggatt 'proud' of controversial rape storyline

The actress says it was a brave move from writer Julian Fellowes

Actress Joanne Froggatt has said she is "proud" of Downton Abbey for tackling its controversial rape storyline which has prompted complaints to ITV and regulator Ofcom.

The star, whose character Anna Bates was attacked by Lord Gillingham's valet Mr Green in Sunday's edition of the show, said it was a "brave" move by programme-makers.

ITV warned viewers about upsetting scenes before the start of the period drama, created by Julian Fellowes, but still received around 60 complaints.

Froggatt said today: "I was really proud of the show for tackling a subject like this. It's a really brave thing to do and I really do believe that Julian's written that in a way that is not gratuitous at all, he does very much go on to explore the emotional journey of Anna and Bates.

"He's done a beautiful job of hitting the right note with it. I think we all just felt a big responsibility to get it right," she said during an interview on BBC One's Breakfast.

Froggatt, who was made aware of the storyline by producer Gareth Neame a week before she was given the script, said creators of the show did not want to show graphic violence on screen.

"Julian, and this is a credit to him, was adamant that we wouldn't depict that kind of violence against a woman on the screen and that's something that he didn't want in a show of his, that he's a part of, and that's an incredible thing in this industry in this day and age," she said.

"And the shock value was there without having to depict anything graphic. The story is shocking enough, as it should be for a story of that essence."

She said she had prepared for the role by looking at the testimonies of women who had been through a similar ordeal in those days - as well as modern women who had been reluctant to report attacks.

"I did a lot of research on the internet reading through people's stories of women who have been through similar situations, and women that hadn't gone to the police in this day and age because they were in a situation that came across as being vague when they were going to explain it - maybe they were at party or it was someone they knew and they were very confused by what had happened to them. Now what I wanted to do - I wanted to get into my head as an actress - was to bring that to this time period."

She said the programme's historical advisor had pointed out that women still had few rights back then which made them reluctant to report such an attack.

"All you had was your reputation, your career, possibly if you had a job, and your family. There was still such a stigma attached to any sort of attack like this, that you were very much in danger of losing all of that.

"If a woman lost her reputation, that would bring shame upon the house - she could lose her job, she could lose her husband and society still saw it as no smoke without fire - 'he's only a man, he couldn't help himself'. it's very interesting to see that was only a hundred years ago," Froggatt added.

PA

Arts and Entertainment

Film Leonardo DiCaprio hunts Tom Hardy

Arts and Entertainment
And now for something completely different: the ‘Sin City’ episode of ‘Casualty’
TV
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

    US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

    Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

    'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

    VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
    The male menopause and intimations of mortality

    Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

    So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
    Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

    'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

    Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
    Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

    Bettany Hughes interview

    The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
    Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

    Art of the state

    Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
    Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

    Vegetarian food gets a makeover

    Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
    The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

    The haunting of Shirley Jackson

    Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
    Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

    Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

    These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
    Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

    A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

    Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

    Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
    HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

    Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
    Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

    'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

    Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
    Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

    The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

    Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen