Meeting prostitute helped Friel relate to Street role

Anna Friel has told how she met up with a prostitute while researching her new role for drama The Street and said that as a mother she can empathise with the desperate measures her character takes.

The actress, 32, who has a three-year-old daughter named Gracie, said the show demonstrated "what a woman will do to protect her children".

The stellar cast for the third BBC1 series also includes Bob Hoskins, Gavin and Stacey's Ruth Jones and Timothy Spall.

The award-winning show is the work of writer Jimmy McGovern, whose credits also include Brookside, The Lakes and Cracker.

It focuses on the lives of different residents who live in the same street in the north west of England.

Former Brookside actress turned Hollywood star Friel plays Dee, a mother-of-two who tries to scrape some cash together by working in a sauna in Bolton.

One of her children is being badly bullied and she wants him to change schools, but moving house hikes up her mortgage and she is forced to subsidise her earnings from her day job in a DIY store.

Friel, whose partner David Thewlis has also appeared in the show, said she absolutely identifies with Dee's drastic actions.

"I prize our own daughter... above everything else in the world," she said.

"Having a child completely changes your perspective on everything.

"The drama demonstrates what a woman will do to protect her children, and I quite understand that feeling."

In researching the role, Friel met a real-life prostitute.

She said: "She taught me that when she's at work she puts her mind into a different place.

"She absents herself. I didn't have a sex scene as Dee - you didn't need to see that.

"But I got the sense from the woman I met of the prostitute's disregard for men.

"In a sense, the woman has power over the man, she manipulates the situation and is in charge of how it goes."

She added: "It makes you realise just how lucky you are...

"The piece is saying that, while prostitution is never the answer, people should not get too judgmental about women who have to go down that path...

"I hope this drama will make people empathetic of those in Dee's situation.

"It's all about the forces that drive you when you're a mother - and that's something many of us can relate to."

The Street picked up both the 2007 and 2008 Bafta and Royal Television Society Awards for best drama series, as well as winning international Emmy awards.

The Rochdale-born actress, who first broke through as Beth Jordache in Brookside, added: "Jimmy and I never worked on Brookside at the same time, but I've loved all his work. I adored Cracker and The Lakes...

"It was lovely to go back to where I started... this is one of the best scripts I've ever been involved with."

Hoskins plays Paddy, a principled publican who takes a brave stand against the local gang boss, Miller (Liam Cunningham).

When Miller tries to intimidate Paddy and his wife Lizzie (Frances Barber) into rescinding the ban on his son Calum for smoking in his pub, the landlord refuses to back down and a bloody confrontation looms.

Hoskins said: "The whole concept behind this episode is fantastic. It's Jimmy's version of High Noon!

"I very rarely watch telly - it's like having a plumber round and showing him your pipes."

Jones plays a lonely young woman called Sandra who lures her married workmate Eddie (Spall) back to her flat one evening and makes a move on him.

Jones said: "It doesn't end joyfully for either of them."

McGovern said of the show: "All the stories are about heart and humanity.

"Viewers can relate to these characters - we can all put ourselves in their shoes and think, 'there but for the grace of God, go I'."

He added: "People come up to me all the time in pubs offering scripts.

"I get offered about 250 per series. But we only accept very few of them."

The show will go out in a peak time slot from July.

Arts and Entertainment
War veteran and father of Peter and Laust Thoger Jensen played by Lars Mikkelson

TVBBC hopes latest Danish import will spell success

Arts and Entertainment
Carey Mulligan in Far From The Madding Crowd
FilmCarey Mulligan’s Bathsheba would fit in better in The Hunger Games
Arts and Entertainment
Pandas-on-heat: Mary Ramsden's contribution is intended to evoke the compound the beasts smear around their habitat
Iart'm Here But You've Gone exhibition has invited artists to produce perfumes
Arts and Entertainment
U2's Songs of Innocence album sleeve

tvU2’s latest record has been accused of promoting sex between men

Arts and Entertainment
Alison Steadman in Inside No.9
tvReview: Alison Steadman stars in Inside No.9's brilliant series finale Spoiler alert
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating

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

    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

    Everyone is talking about The Trews

    Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
    'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

    'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

    British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
    Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

    Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

    Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
    14 best kids' hoodies

    14 best kids' hoodies

    Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

    The acceptable face of the Emirates

    Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk