Marcella Anna Friel

Marcella on ITV1: What happened in series two? Why is Marcella undercover?

The crime drama starring Anna Friel returns for series three

Marcella returns to ITV1 for its third series, and Anna Friel resumes the role as troubled detective Marcella Backland. But why is Marcella undercover in this series?

And what happened in series two which aired in 2018?

Here’s a recap and everything you need to know about the upcoming series.

***Warning: spoilers from series two ahead***

Hugo Speer joins the cast of Marcella series three
Hugo Speer joins the cast of Marcella series three (Credit: ITV1)

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What happened in series two of Marcella?

Marcella is a police detective who suffers from memory black outs – not great when you’re hunting dangerous criminals.

Anna Friel won an International Emmy for her performance in the role.

Over the course of the second season, Marcella lost everything – her kids, her job, her boyfriend and her identity.

At the end of series two, she was officially ‘dead’.

She faced the child killer she had been hunting down all season in climatic scenes.

After saving Edward, she also made a shocking discovery about her past.

In disturbing scenes, Marcella discovered that she had accidentally killed her baby Juliette by shaking her too hard.

Racked with guilt over the incident, which happened years before, Marcella signed over sole custody of her children to her ex-husband Jason.

Viewers then saw her about to throw herself off a building, until her colleague Rav talked her down from the edge.

In yet more dramatic scenes, Marcella attacked Rav with a toilet lid and handcuffed him to the edge of a cubicle.

She then cut off all her hair and sliced the edge of her mouth with a pair of scissors.

At the end of the episode, we see Marcella sleeping rough under a bridge.

Marcella Anna Friel
Anna Friel as Marcella in the ITV series of the same name (Credit: ITV1)

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What disorder does Marcella have?

Marcella has a type of dissociative identity disorder (DID), which results in her suffering from violent black-outs.

At moments of intense stress, she enters an amnesiac state.

As a result, Marcella does and says things she later has no recollection of.

In an interview with, actress Anna Friel explained that the series is very much a drama, not a documentary, and therefore isn’t supposed to be a spot-on depiction of the disorder.

Why is Marcella undercover in series three?

Marcella is presumed dead and is now working undercover.

She has infiltrated a criminal family in Belfast and is known by her codename Keira.

But it’s never that simple with Marcella…

The undercover cop begins to enjoy the luxury life of the family a bit too much and starts to become part of the Maguire world for real.

Viewers see her clashing with the Maguire matriarch Katherine, played by Amanda Burton.

Is Keira/Marcella aiming to gain full control of the family?

Does she even want her old life back?

Viewers can watch the third series as a standalone series, without having watched series one and series two.

marcella maguire family
The Maguire family in Marcella, headed by Amanda Burton’s Katherine (Credit: ITV1)

Series three of Marcella: episode one

Series three of ITV1’s Marcella returns with a double bill on Tuesday January 26 2021.

Marcella is back, with dyed-blonde hair and a scar from where she tried to hack her own face off.

She is now living as Keira Devlin in Belfast.

Her name and hair might have changed, but she’s still “breaking every rule in the book”.

She’s deep undercover with a Northern Ireland crime family headed by ballbusting Katherine.

But as Marcella investigates their activities, it becomes increasingly clear that she has her feet under the table a little too much!

Amanda Burton and Hugo Speer join the cast for the third series.

Series three of Marcella: episode two

In episode two, we see fan favourite DI Rav Sangha (Ray Panthaki) head to Belfast to investigate Bobby.

Meanwhile Marcella delves deeper into the Maguires’ criminal world.

Marcella begins with a double bill on ITV1 at 9pm and 10.05pm on Tuesday January 26 2021.

Are you excited for series three of Marcella? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

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