TV sex attacks can be 'titillation' says Julie Hesmondhalgh

UK Theatre Awards
UK Theatre Awards

Broadchurch actress Julie Hesmondhalgh has criticised the way that sex attacks are portrayed on screen.

The actress, 47, is about to star as the victim of a sexual assault in the third series of hit crime series Broadchurch.

She told BBC Breakfast that too many dramas tried to titillate viewers while portraying attacks.

Asked about preparing for her role in Broadchurch, which begins on ITV tonight, Hesmondhalgh said: "There's been a lot of discussions about sexual assault and sexual violence on TV and about how it should be portrayed.

"We've all seen too many young women being chased through woods. It's the titillation of the chase and the attack."

The former Coronation Street actress added: "I think that this is very different in that it starts in the aftermath and you see the after effects of it. And you see her (Hesmondhalgh's character) journey towards surviving it and the terrible devastating effect that an attack like this has."

Hesmondhalgh said that Broadchurch was "making it really clear, just by casting me, as an ordinary middle-aged woman, (that) it can happen to anybody obviously, that it isn't an act of sex. It's an act of violence."

The actress said that she hoped that the new series, which also sees David Tennant and Olivia Colman reprise their roles, makes "great strides in raising awareness as well as being a good piece of TV drama".