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Is Three Families based on a true story and how many episodes is it?

Amy James-Kelly and Colin Morgan star as newlyweds in the BBC One drama

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Three Families on BBC One follows three separate families who all, for different reasons, seek to terminate their pregnancies – but is Three Families a true story?

Who is in the cast and how many episodes is it?

Here’s everything you need to know about the new hard-hitting drama.

Genevieve O'Reilly as Rosie and Prasanna Puwanarajah as David in Three Families (Credit: BBC One)
Genevieve O’Reilly as Rosie and Prasanna Puwanarajah as David in Three Families (Credit: BBC One)

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Three Families on BBC One – what is it about?

The two-part dramatisation tells the stories of three families affected by the controversial abortion law in Northern Ireland.

A mother questions her own beliefs when her teenage daughter reveals she’s pregnant in Northern Ireland in 2013.

Intent only on protecting her child, Theresa makes a hard choice and buys abortion pills for her daughter.

But as word starts to get out, she discovers that she could face a prison sentence for breaking one of Northern Ireland’s most controversial laws

Meanwhile, young newlyweds Hannah and Jonathan are devastated when they learn that their much-wanted baby will not survive the pregnancy.

In their grief the couple speak to their doctor about their options, only to realise how limited their choices are.

Viewers also meet Rosie, whose unborn child is diagnosed with Edward’s Syndrome – a chromosomal abnormality that often results in the baby dying before or soon after birth.

Is Three Families a true story?

Three Families on BBC One is based on true stories that have taken place in the past decade.

In real life, women like Hannah couldn’t have had a termination before 2019 because it was a criminal act.

This law applied even for cases such as rape, incest or foetal abnormality.

The character of Theresa, who bought abortion pills for her daughter, faced prosecution for “supplying poison to secure a miscarriage”.

Abortion was illegal in Northern Ireland for decades, ever since the Abortion Act of 1967.

Screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes says: “When executive producer Sue Hogg first asked me to write Three Families, I was amazed to discover that thousands of women from Northern Ireland still had to get on planes and ferries, and go to England in search of terminations they could not access at home.”

She continues: “Classically the abortion debate is presented as two opposing and immoveable camps – ‘pro-life’ and ‘pro-choice’.

“But, as I discovered, it’s not as simple as that.

“What about people like our character Theresa, who thought she was against abortion until her own 15-year old daughter fell pregnant?”

The three families are all based on real people, whose names have been changed.

They spoke confidentially to screenwriter Gwyneth Hughes for the BBC One drama Three Families.

Sinead Keenan as Theresa, but is Three Families a true story? (Credit: BBC One)
Sinéad Keenan as Theresa, but is Three Families a true story? (Credit: BBC One)

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Is abortion still illegal in Northern Ireland?

Three Families explores the complex background to a controversial campaign, which ended in the UK government forcing a liberalisation of the law in Northern Ireland two years ago.

In 2019, the restrictive abortion law was lifted.

This change in law meant that abortion was decriminalised.

Neither healthcare workers nor the women and girls who seek abortions can be prosecuted.

Is Three Families a true story? How many parts is Three Families?

Three Families on BBC One is a two-part drama series.

The first part airs on Monday May 10 2021 at 9pm.

The concluding second episode follows on Tuesday May 11 at 9pm.

Colin Morgan as Jonathan and Amy James Kelly as Hannah in Three Families (Credit: BBC One)
Colin Morgan as Jonathan and Amy James Kelly as Hannah in Three Families (Credit: BBC One)

Who is in the cast of Three Families?

Sinéad Keenan stars as Theresa, who buys abortion pills online for her underage daughter.

She’s best known as Mel Jones in Little Boy Blue, Nina in Being Human and Roz in Deep Water.

Lola Petticrew plays her young daughter Orla.

Bloodlands fans will recognise her as Izzy Brannick in the BBC One drama, opposite James Nesbitt.

Former Corrie star Amy James-Kelly plays Hannah, who is thrilled to be pregnant until she discovers the foetus has abnormalities so will be stillborn.

Merlin’s Colin Morgan plays partner and dad-to-be Jonathan.

Tin Star’s Genevieve O’Reilly and Doctor Foster‘s Prasanna Puwanarajah portray Rosie and David.

Killing Eve fans will recognise Owen McDonnell as Mark, Theresa’s partner and step-father to teenager Orla.

He’s best known for playing Eve’s husband Niko Polastri in the BBC series Killing Eve, but recently starred as the villain in The Bay.

Coronation Street’s Kerri Quinn plays Louise Byrne, Theresa’s best friend.

She’s famous for portraying Vicky Jefferies in the ITV soap, and Rita in Derry Girls.

Is Three Families a true story? How can I watch Three Families?

Three Families on BBC One is a two part drama series.

The first part airs on Monday May 10 2021 at 9pm.

The concluding second episode follows on Tuesday May 11 at 9pm.

Both episodes will be available to watch on iPlayer after transmission.

Three Families airs on Monday May 10 and Tuesday May 11 2021 at 9pm on BBC One.

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