Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Downton Star to Play Black Widow of the North East

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Downton Star to Play Black Widow of the North East

Article excerpt

Byline: Robert Dex Reporter

DOWNTON Abbey star Joanne Froggatt has signed up to appear in another period drama - playing a real-life serial killer from the North East.

The actress, who plays lady's maid Anna Bates in the hit ITV show, will play Victorian poisoner Mary Ann Cotton in a two-part drama called Dark Angel.

Cotton, originally from Houghton-le-Spring, was hanged in 1873 after being convicted of killing three of her husbands, though some historians estimate she may have had more than 20 victims.

Filming on the show, in North Yorkshire and County Durham, starts in August.

Known as the Black Widow, Cotton preceded Jack the Ripper and over an eight-year period poisoned her victims with arsenic and in most cases benefited from their insurance money.

As well as her husbands, it is also thought that Cotton murdered her own mother and 11 of her 13 children - possibly because they were simply in her way.

Cotton is thought to have begun her killing spree in 1865, when her first husband died of what was classed as "gastric fever. …

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