Joanne Froggatt interview: ‘Downton’ star chats about her new thriller ‘Angela Black’

Downton Abbey star Joanne Froggatt is back on our screens this month in a new psychological thriller.

Best known for her role as Anna Bates in ITV’s hit period drama, the 41-year-old English actress is leading the cast of ITV’s Angela Black.

Described as a “dark, Hitchcockian thriller,” the upcoming six-part mini-series is from the creators of The Missing and Liar.

Joanne Froggatt is playing the titular Angela, a suburban housewife whose seemingly perfect life isn’t all it appears to be.

Angela Black premieres in the UK at 9pm on Sunday 10th October on ITV.

Here Joanne Froggatt reveals what to expect from the show…


Tell us about how you became involved with this project?

“I really wanted to play this character and be involved in this project because I’ve worked with Jack and Harry Williams before, who are our brilliant writers.

“I just absolutely loved their script and I think they have an amazing skill at not only writing incredibly gripping material that is incredibly entertaining, but also doing that based around a subject matter that can be extremely sensitive, as is the case with Angela Black.

“I always feel they get the balance just right between those two things, obviously being a piece of entertainment first and foremost, but a piece of entertainment that has something intelligent and interesting to say. I’m always gripped by their characters, and I desperately want to play them whenever I get sent a script from them.”


What were your first thoughts when you first read the script?

“When I first read the script for Angela Black, it was such a page turner, and I was incredibly gripped by this woman’s life and the situation we find her in when we first meet Angela in the story.

“She’s very much on the brink of leaving this abusive relationship that she’s been in with her husband for many years now. They have two sons together and she’s about to walk away but trying to work out how she navigates that in a safe way for her and her children. Then she meets a character called Ed, who is a private detective, who tells her things about her husband that she didn’t know, and she comes to realise that there’s even more at stake than she originally thought.

“There’s already so much intrigue, even just reading the first episode of Jack and Harry’s script, I desperately wanted to know what happens to this woman and who her husband really is and what their relationship is based on, the lies that it’s based on, the truth that it’s based on, and I was just rooting for her from the start. I wanted to know how she was going to extricate herself from the situation and what the end result was going to be.”


Tell us a bit more about the character of Angela…

“Angela is a mum and wife, and she is living, from the outside, what looks like the perfect life. She has her handsome husband and her two beautiful children, lives in a beautiful house in London, a very middle-class area, living a very nice lifestyle.

“Early on within the first few scenes of the first episode, you see how we scratch the surface of that and what’s really going on underneath that veneer. What’s going on is nowhere near the happy life that’s put forward to the outside world.

“We find Angela at a crucial point in her life, really, where she is trying to navigate how to leave this relationship which has become extremely abusive and how to do so in a way that is safe for her and her children.”


How did you go about tackling the sensitive subject matter?

“I think it’s incredibly important for television drama to tackle sensitive subject matters. I’ve tackled a few in my career and I feel passionate about that because I feel that drama and entertainment can be a window into a subject matter for an audience that they may never have thought about or may never have been on their radar.

“Maybe even just one person thinking “oh, that person’s behaviour is odd,” or “I’m going to just check in with my friend and check he or she is okay,” or “maybe it’s okay if I speak to somebody about my situation.” If any of that happens it can only be a positive. This is first and foremost a piece of entertainment.

“We’re not saving lives, it’s a television drama, but just to open up a subject matter to a wider audience is helpful when it’s done in the right way.”


How does your character develop?

“Angela goes on an extreme journey through the series, and it shapes her in a way that she builds strength as the episodes move forward. She has always had that strength and she has got that strength, but she has sort of become detached from it and, as I said before, she’s reconnecting with herself.

“We find her re-finding that strength of character and she just builds that, and she becomes stronger and stronger, and more savvy about how to handle this extremely manipulative person that is in her life.”


How will the show appeal to audiences?

“I think people will tune into Angela Black because it is a real edge-of-your-seat thriller. It’s a psychological thriller in the home, which makes it, to me, even more disturbing in a way, because it’s not something that happens outside in a world far away from the one we’re all living in.

“It is one that could be happening in the house next door, or possibly, in your own house and that is what is so unnerving about it, and what really stuck with me. So, it is a very intriguing and twisting plot, but it’s unnerving because it feels so close to home.”


What will audiences take away from the story?

“I hope audiences will firstly take away from the show that it is a gripping, edge-of-your-seat thriller that they’re completely obsessed with! But also, obviously I would like them to take away a little bit more than that, which is thinking about Angela’s situation and how people are affected by these issues.

“And maybe, possibly, not being as dismissive about them as they were before, or possibly just being a bit more open to checking in on a friend or making sure they are treating people the way they should be treated.”


A broadcaster in the US for Angela Black hasn’t yet been confirmed.

Joanne Froggatt will be reprising her role as Anna in the second Downton Abbey movie when it’s released next year.

Downton Abbey: The Complete Collection DVD box set is available on Amazon.