BBC viewers praise 'powerful, heartbreaking' drama Three Girls

BBC viewers have praised the “powerful” but “heartbreaking” drama Three Girls after the third and final episode aired last night.

The drama, based on the true stories of victims of grooming and sexual abuse in Rochdale, followed the lives of three vulnerable teenage girls at the hands of their perpetrators, how they were ignored by the authorities directly responsible for protecting them, and how they bravely made themselves heard.

Written by Nicole Taylor, the three-parter starred Maxine Peake (Sara Rowbotham), the sexual health worker who discovered the abuse but struggled to make the authorities pay attention to her concerns, and Lesley Sharp (DC Oliver).

Three Girls
Maxine Peake (Sara Rowbotham), Lisa Riley (Lorna Bowen), and Lesley Sharp (DC Oliver).

The two women who were instrumental in getting the girls’ voices heard after years of abuse by a gang of Asian men who would ply the girls with drink, drugs and gifts before raping them and offer them up to other men for money.

Also praised for her portrayal in the drama – and almost unrecognisable – was Lisa Riley who played Lorna Bowen, the mother of two of the victims, Amber (Ria Zmitrowicz) and Ruby (Liv Hill).


Liv Hill (Ruby), Molly Windsor (Holly Winshaw), and Ria Zmitrowicz (Amber)

In the final episode, viewers watched Holly Winshaw (Molly Windsor), Amber and Ruby try and move on with their lives after the 11-week trial case which saw nine men found guilty of a string of sexual offences including rape and conspiracy to engage in sexual activity with a child.

Many were shocked by the way nine defence solicitors for the men questioned brave Holly, asking again and again whether she was lying or telling the truth.


Maxine Peake and Lesley Sharp

The programme also exposed the severe criticism the police and social services faced for the way they handled the case.

In an interview with the Independent, Maxine Peake said her experience in the mini-series was a positive one, adding: “It empowers you in a way, because you feel you’re doing something that you feel very rarely in acting – that you’re part of something really important that might have an effect on people.”

Along with the accolades for the actors, there was also shock from the revelation that Sara Rowbotham was made redundant two years after the conviction of nine men in 2012, and that no police officer has ever faced disciplinary action as a result of the 2008 police investigation.

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