Dark Angel tells the incredible true story of Victorian poisoner and proto serial killer Mary Ann Cotton. We first meet Mary Ann as a loving wife and mother, newly returned to her native North East of England. But faced with abject poverty and an ailing husband, we see how ruthlessly determined she is to pursue her desires – and a better life …
Mary Ann is a serial killer, a poisoner whose methods leave no visible scars, allowing her tally of victims to mount unsuspected by a Victorian society unable to conceive a woman capable of such terrible crimes. Travelling around the North East, she inveigles herself into the homes of unsuspecting families, marrying and creating new families of her own – before killing them, taking their money and moving on.
Through adultery, bigamy, fraud and murder, Mary Ann betters herself socially and financially. But the more she kills, the greater the risk her heinous crimes will finally be exposed…
Writer Gwyneth Hughes said of Mary “I make no excuse for her truly appalling crimes. But in my story, and in Joanne Froggatt’s luminous portrayal, the Victorian serial killer emerges as an ambitious and disappointed woman, trapped by low horizons and constant childbearing. When she was hanged, she had just given birth to a daughter who may have been her 14th child. Her sins were driven by her longing to escape that very female form of slavery – and which of us today could bear her life? If a modern British woman were to ask Mary Ann what she wanted, I believe she would reply: “Contraception. Independence. Hot and cold running water. And a washing machine.”
Dark Angel was filmed in North Yorkshire and County Durham.
UK / ITV – World Productions / 2×100 minute episodes / Broadcast from 30 October 2016
Writer: Gwyneth Hughes / Book: Mary Ann Cotton: Britain’s First Female Serial Killer by David Wilson / Production Design: Claire Kenney / Costume Design: Caroline McCall / Executive Producer: Simon Heath, Kirstie Macdonald / Producer: Jake Lushington / Director: Brian Percival
Joanne Froggatt as Mary Ann Cotton
Alun Armstrong as George Stott
Jonas Armstrong as Joe Nattrass
Penny Layden as Margaret Stott
Laura Morgan as Maggie Cotton
Thomas Howes as George Ward
Emma Fielding as Helen Robinson
Sam Hoare as James Robinson
Mark Underwood as Fred Cotton
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