‘Downton Abbey’ Star Joanne Froggatt Gets Murderous for the PBS Drama ‘Dark Angel’

Dark Angel, highlights
Joanne Froggatt in Dark Angel

After starring as Downton Abbey’s saintly housemaid Anna for six seasons, Joanne Froggatt (above) made no secret of the fact that she was ready to play a very different kind of woman.

“Everyone said to me, ‘Oh, what do you want to do after Downton?’” Froggatt remembers. “And I’d jokingly say, ‘I don’t know, play a murderer or something.’”

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The end is nigh for the beloved British period drama.

Along came the script for Dark Angel, a two-part historical drama based on the life of Mary Ann Cotton, a woman believed to be England’s first female serial killer. Froggatt says she was drawn to the complexities of the story, in which Mary Ann struggles to overcome her working-class Victorian background and poisons her husbands and members of her family to collect their life insurance.

“What [writer] Gwyneth Hughes has done so brilliantly is pose this question of nature or nurture?” Froggatt says. “Would Mary Ann have done these things if she was born today and she’d had other options? Or would she have still ended up murdering people? It’s an interesting question.”

Dark Angel, Series Premiere, Sunday, May 21, 9/8c, PBS