Anna Friel: My mum wants me to lighten up and do a rom-com

Emma Powell
Dark role: Anna Friel as Marcella in the ITV crime drama: ITV

Anna Friel has revealed her mother would like her next performance to be in a romantic comedy after all the recent “dark” roles she has taken on.

The actress, 41, returns next week as blackout-suffering detective Marcella in the gritty ITV crime drama, a part she described as “challenging” and “emotionally draining”.

It follows her lead role last year in BBC1’s Broken, Jimmy McGovern’s tale of poverty and desperation in modern Britain.

Friel told the Standard: “I do tend to get a lot of dark characters — my mother said, ‘Might be time for a rom com darling.’ I was like, ‘Chance would be a fine thing.’ I’d love to just do a romantic comedy.”

Award winner: Anna Friel with her International Emmy Award for Marcella (Reuters)

Marcella is written by Hans Rosenfeldt, creator of Scandi crime hit The Bridge. It sees Friel’s character contemplating suicide before she is roped into solving the murder of a schoolboy.

The actress — who won an Emmy for her role — said she had no downtime to recover from intense scenes during filming, and said if it were not for lazy days at the weekend she would struggle to cope with the emotional “onslaught”.

“If you do a series called Marcella, and you are Marcella, you have to set an example and work quickly,” she said. “There is no time to say, ‘Can I have 10 minutes’ — it’s, ‘Go now.’ It’s about deep, deep concentration, then at the weekends I would have pyjama days to rest for next week’s onslaught.

“If I’d gone out at the weekend I wouldn’t have got through the next week. I do home cooking and get out in the garden, and live to know not all the world is a dark place, it’s just what you’re performing.”

Friel said she and returning stars Ray Panthaki, Nicholas Pinnock and Jamie Bamber were able to celebrate her birthday on set: “They all gave me a birthday cake because it was a hard day of crying and screaming.”

Marcella returns to ITV on February 19