Sunday 19 January 2020

Downton star 'proud' of show for tackling rape despite complaints

Joanne Froggatt: 'brave' move by show's makers
Joanne Froggatt: 'brave' move by show's makers

Richard Calder

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", with Ofcom also receiving an undisclosed number.

Froggatt said yesterday: "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.

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.

She said the programme's historical adviser 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."

Irish Independent

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