Actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has said that playing a sexual assault victim in Broadchurch forced her to confront her own prejudices about who the crime can happen to.
The former Coronation Street star appears in the third series of the ITV crime drama which features David Tennant and Olivia Colman as detectives in a sleepy seaside town.
This time creator Chris Chibnall has swapped the previous murder case plot for a sexual assault storyline and Julie said she thought carefully before accepting the role.
She said at a press screening of the programme: “There’s been a lot of discussion about televising sexual violence and how that has become almost normalised.
“Putting my face to that is something I had to really think about.
“Even the fact that I’ve been cast is an interesting take on it because I’m an ordinary looking middle-aged woman, rather than the classic young girl being chased through the woods.
“I had to look at some of my own internalised misogyny because I had fears that the audience wouldn’t buy this could happen to someone like me and also that she’s a sexual person, but obviously this isn’t an act of sex and desire, it’s an act of violence and it can happen to all people.”
The BBC is currently airing Apple Tree Yard, an adaptation of Louise Doughty’s novel which has similar themes of a middle-aged woman (played by Emily Watson) being the victim of a violent sexual assault.
Julie added that she wanted to do justice to the issue.
She said: “I was really aware that I am an actor doing it and I’m not going through it for real.
“You’ve got to be careful not to be a t*** about things like that. You can’t say ‘Oh, it’s been so hard for me playing this part,’ when people are actually going through it.”
She also said it had been intimidating joining the well-known cast, which this time also includes Lenny Henry and Sarah Parish.
“After my first day I had to apologise to David and Olivia and say that I would try to be less of a competition winner the next day.
“We did a classic on-the-pier photo shoot and it was a bit like being in Madame Tussauds.”