Sunday 15 September 2019

Julie Hesmondhalgh slams ‘gratuitous images’ of female bodies in TV drama

She said Broadchurch, in which she played rape survivor Trish Winterman, took a different approach.

Julie Hesmondhalgh in Broadchurch
Julie Hesmondhalgh in Broadchurch

By Sherna Noah, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has criticised the depiction of rape on the small screen.

The former Coronation Street star, 47, played rape survivor Trish Winterman in the third series of Broadchurch, starring David Tennant and Olivia Colman, earlier this year.

Hesmondhalgh told Radio Times magazine: “Too often we’ve seen rape portrayed on-screen in a titillating way, young women being pursued by unseen predators through dark alleys and woods, the graphic depiction of the act itself, gratuitous images of naked and brutalised female bodies.”

David Tennant and Olivia Colman in their roles as Detective Inspector Alec Hardy and Detective Sergeant Ellie Miller in Broadchurch

She praised ITV drama Liar, about a woman raped on a date, for sparking conversation and said that the Broadchurch role appealed to her for taking a different approach.

“In casting myself, an ordinary-looking middle-aged woman, as the survivor of rape, it was clear that Chris Chibnall, the writer of Broadchurch, was hoping to take a different look at the issue,” she said.

The actress added: “Rape is not an act of sexual desire, it’s an act of violence.”

Several TV dramas, including The Fall, Silent Witness, Ripper Street and Scandinavian crime series The Bridge, have been criticised for scenes of violence against women.

Dame Helen Mirren has said that too many victims in crime dramas were women, while acclaimed playwright Sir David Hare criticised the mounting “body count” and lack of realism in contemporary film and TV drama.


Booker Prize-winning novelist John Banville pointed to the raft of violent crime dramas on TV featuring sexual violence.

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