Joanne Froggatt, who stole the hearts of millions of viewers as Anna, the loving and resilient lady’s maid on Downton Abbey, stars in a totally different role in a spine-tingling two-part drama on Masterpiece. Dispensing death from the spout of a warm teapot, Froggatt plays the notorious Victorian poisoner Mary Ann Cotton in Dark Angel.
Watch Masterpiece: Dark Angel May 21 at 9:00 p.m. on WCVE PBS/WHTJ PBS. Check listings for additional air-times.
Dark Angel dramatizes the events that drew a troubled woman ever deeper into a career of casual murder, while her loved ones and friends, who were also her victims, never suspected a thing.
A Golden Globe®-winner and three-time Emmy® nominee for her Downton Abbey performance, Froggatt is joined by an exceptional cast, including Alun Armstrong (Little Dorrit, Bleak House) as Mary Ann’s stepfather, Mr. Stott; Thomas Howes (Downton Abbey) as her husband number two, George; Jonas Armstrong (Robin Hood) as her longtime lover, Joe; Sam Hoare (Jane Eyre) as husband number three, James; Laura Morgan (The Hollow Crown) as her best friend, Maggie; plus additional actors playing other husbands, her many children, and the few citizens who suspect that something is not quite right about Mary Ann.
Born in North East England in 1832, a child of the coal elds, Mary Ann Cotton grew up in poverty with the dream of escaping the hard life of a miner’s family, a goal she came tantalizingly close to achieving. Her chosen means were her good looks, sexual allure, and the dirty secret of nineteenth-century suspicious deaths: arsenic, which is tasteless and easily disguised in a cup of tea.
Mary Ann did tempt fate by taking out a modest insurance policy on her intended victims, whenever possible, but she inadvertently hit on the major success strategies of a serial killer: keep moving, be charming, and exude self-con dence. And along with others in this line of criminality, her body count can never be certain; the current best estimate is at least thirteen, ranking her far above her Victorian male counterpart, Jack the Ripper.