Wearside schoolgirl to play Sunderland killer Mary Ann Cotton's daughter in TV drama
A Wearside schoolgirl will play the daughter of Sunderland serial killer Mary Ann Cotton in a chilling TV drama this Halloween.
Nine-year-old Isla McMonigle from Washington plays Isabella, believed to be the murderer’s favourite child, in Dark Angel, a new two-part drama beginning on ITV on Monday.
The Our Lady Queen of Peace pupil stars alongside Downton Abbey actress Joanne Froggatt who steps into the shoes of the infamous character who became Britain’s first recorded female serial killer.
Low Moorsley-born Cotton, who also lived in South Hetton and Hendon, was hanged, aged 41, in 1873 for poisoning more than 20 people with arsenic. Her victims included her three husbands, as well as some of her 11 children – all from the County Durham and Tyneside area.
Isla will feature on screen with her real life little brother Alexander, six, who plays James Junior in the second episode, one of Mary Ann’s many stepchildren.
It’s the latest high-profile role for Isla who also starred in ITV’s blockbuster Beowulf earlier this year.
Proud mum Niki said: “They came up to the North East to cast children from the area and Isla was actually cast by the same person who cast her in Beowulf. “She filmed the drama from last August to October with some scenes in Beamish, but the bulk of it in York.
“It was a great experience and Joanne was lovely with the children, she bought them all sweets from the old sweet shop in York on the last day of filming.”
Isla, who attends Activate drama school based at Southmoor Academy, also got to share the screen with Alun Armstrong who plays Mary’s step father, George Stott
Niki said: “Professionally, it’s great for Isla to be able to add the role to her CV, and she already has a London agent. Despite being in prime time shows, she’s very down to earth. She still attends the same drama school and just takes it all in her stride.
“She won’t be able to watch this one because it’s shown after the watershed and is very dark, but we all enjoyed watching Beowulf, it was great to see her on screen.”
Acting runs in the family with big sister Eva, 12, also appearing on the small screen with roles in CBBC’s Dumping Ground and detective drama Vera.
•Dark Angel, a two-part drama, begins on ITV on Monday, October 31 at 9pm.