Lesley Manville opens up about why she wanted to be a part of ‘Sherwood’, which is inspired by real-life murders

David Morrissey as Ian St Clair, Lesley Manville as Julie Jackson and Robert Glenister as Kevin Salisbury in a scene from ‘Sherwood’. Picture: Supplied

David Morrissey as Ian St Clair, Lesley Manville as Julie Jackson and Robert Glenister as Kevin Salisbury in a scene from ‘Sherwood’. Picture: Supplied

Published May 27, 2024


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I’m a huge fan of its crime offerings. It does offer one of the best series collections in the genre.

A show to add to your binge-watch list is “Sherwood”, which stars David Morrissey and is inspired by real-life murders in Nottinghamshire, England, in 2004.

The six-part series boasts a stellar cast of Lesley Manville, Joanne Froggatt, Robert Glenister and Kevin Doyle, to mention a few.

Veteran actress Manville, who played Princess Margaret in the past two seasons of “The Crown”, plays Julie Jackson in the series.

In a recent interview, she sang the praises of the show.

“Well, it’s from the brilliant James Graham. It’s semi-autobiographical in that he grew up in the area where it’s set. It deals with the Nottinghamshire miners who were in the 1984 strike.

“They were the ones who broke the picket line and went back to work, whereas the Yorkshire miners were the ones who, as a majority, stayed out on strike.

Julie Jackson in a scene from ‘Sherwood’. Picture: Supplied

“So, in Sherwood, there’s a clash in this community and it’s never left them. It festered and became a very dark, underlying heartbeat to the story.”

She continued: “It’s a drama, but it is based on a true story of two real tragic killings. It was rather extraordinary, because these deaths were not connected and yet both killers were hiding out in Sherwood Forest, and because of the density of Sherwood Forest, the police’s heat-seeking aircraft could not find them, so it was a manhunt in this huge area.

“Police were brought in from all over the place including The Met, and they found these then, really quite close to each other. It sparked, at the time, the biggest manhunt in UK history.”

Contextualising her role in the series, she explained: “Julie Jackson is Gary Jackson’s wife. He’s one of the miners who adamantly stayed out on strike.

“They are a warm, lovely couple who love each other and have a great life. But there is this side of him that she must suppress and try and put to one side because she doesn’t like it.

“He publicly uses derogatory terms towards people in the community who didn’t strike in the ’80s. It doesn't sit well with her, but she is and always was on his side at the time of the strikes and was involved in the striking herself.”

As for what attracted her to the show, she said: “The script. It’s always script, script, script. However, great the team might be, if the scripts are turkey you’re never going to be able to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

“Also, I know and love James’s work. And I suppose, because of that experience when I was in my twenties with the strike, I thought since I knew this world a little bit, what a challenge it would be to play her.”

Interestingly, Manville has been cast in the upcoming biopic drama, “Back to Black” based on the life of British singer-songwriter Amy Winehouse, who died of alcohol poisoning on July 23, 2011, at the age of 27. Manville plays her granny, Cynthia.

∎ “Sherwood” is streaming on Britbox.