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The Secret (BBC Thriller, Haydn Gwynne, Stella Gonet)

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Two childhood friends, separated for years, are forced to confront an unimaginable secret from their past.

Emma Faraday (Haydn Gwynne) has it all – a loving husband Alex (Robert Bathurst), two great kids and a successful career. But she’s a woman burdened with a secret which her family knows nothing about. Thirty years ago she was known as Michelle Duncan, and along with schoolgirl friend Donna Parry was convicted of killing Donna’s baby brother. Donna was reinvented as Nadia Collins (Stella Gonet), and the pair were strictly forbidden from associating with each other.

But Nadia’s about to gate-crash Emma’s perfect life. She feels that she was wrongly convicted of the murder and that Emma gave false evidence in court. Now Nadia wants revenge. She has a history of bad relationships and dead-end jobs. She’s a woman with nothing to lose, unlike Emma who could lose everything if her real identity is revealed. But which of them is telling the truth about the fateful night? And can there be a future for either woman until they’ve confronted the past?

Stella Gonet as Nadia Playing a malicious and devious character was a relatively new experience for Stella Gonet, best known for her role in House of Elliot. “I don’t think I’d want to be friends with Nadia because she’s all over the place. She’s very volative and what I call high maintenance. But she admits to having some sympathy for the character. Her mother just didn’t want to acknowledge her existence after the terrible crime happened. There are huge needs in her life.”

The Secret was writer Lucy Floyd’s first work for television. She previously wrote several novels and the award-winning short film Safer, as well as taking an MA in Screenwriting in 1998. “My aim was to examine the long-term consequences of living with such a terrible secret,” she said. “It particularly interested me how a marriage would survive such a handicap, or worse, such a discovery. How white lies can prove to be more corrosive than the most terrible of truths.”

Cast: Haydn Gwynne (Emma), Robert Bathurst (Alex), Stella Gonet (Nadia), Nerys Hughes (Gwen), John Woodvine (Frank), Lisa Millett (Caroline), David Troughton (Tony), Barbara Keogh (Maureen), Tilly Gerrard (Jessica), Ben Alsford (Jack), Archie Panjabi (Female Probation Officer), Caroline Holdaway (Headteacher), Amy Kwolek (Michelle), Samantha Mutlow (Donna), James Smith (Buyer), Annette Bentley (Female Worker), Clare Bloomer (Gushy Young Woman), Rufus Wright (Priest)

Writer: Lucy Floyd / Executive Producer: Sally Haynes / Producer: Paul Rutman / Director: Alrick Riley

UK / BBC One – October Productions / 2×60 minute episodes / Broadcast Saturday 13 & Sunday 14 April 2002 at 9.00pm