When executed well, TV drama based on real-life events can be incredibly powerful.
Viewers have been moved by ITV’s Little Boy Blue, which recounts the tragic murder of eleven-year-old Rhys Jones, in recent weeks.
And, earlier this year, Sheridan Smith was critically acclaimed for her role as the best friend of Karen Matthews, who was jailed for kidnapping her own daughter Shannon, in The Moorside.
Now the BBC is serving up Three Girls, which tells the dreadful story of the grooming of young girls in Rochdale between 2008 and 2012, for which nine men were – eventually – convicted.
In the three-parter, which plays out across three consecutive nights, teenagers Holly, Amber and Ruby fall prey to a gang of horribly abusive and manipulative middle-aged men.
It examines how the girls were groomed, ignored by the authorities directly responsible for protecting them, and how they eventually made themselves heard.
Maxine Peake stars as Sara, a sexual health worker who had been recording and reporting cases of child abuse for years.
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She was sacked by Rochdale council for ‘whistle-blowing’.
“It was so shocking that Rochdale council got away with sacking her because she’d highlighted problems in the way they worked,” the actress told The Guardian.
“These were really vulnerable young women… and the lack of care I found mind-blowing.”
Other famous faces include Jill Halfpenny, Lisa Riley and Paul Kaye as the victims’ parents.
The drama was made with the full cooperation of the real-life victims and their families.
Three Girls begins Tuesday, May 16, 9pm, BBC One.