I Am Victoria looks at mental health issues

Thursday: I Am Victoria; (Channel 4, 9pm)

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 5:00 pm

In 2019, writer-director Dominic Savage brought the female-led anthology I Am to Channel 4.

The three individual films were I Am Nicola, I Am Kirsty and I Am Hannah, starring Vicky McClure, Samantha Morton (who was Bafta-nominated for her performance) and Gemma Chan respectively.

It became the channel’s most successful new 10pm drama in six years, picking up rave reviews and awards nominations in the process.

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Suranne Jones in character as Victoria with Ashley Walters, who plays on-screen husband, Chris

So, it’s not surprising that it’s back for three more episodes with some very big names in the lead roles – or that it’s now been promoted to 9pm.

The new stories, which Savage has developed in partnership with the lead actors and feature improvised dialogue, are set to tackle some big subjects. Or as Savage says: “It is a privilege to be telling such personal and important stories in this unique and collaborative way. These will be inspirational, relatable, and truthful tales of courage and hope, that shine a light on the difficult and challenging aspects of all of our lives.”

The future episodes are I Am Maria, starring Oscar-nominee Lesley Manville and exploring universal issues of identity, doubt and the painful cracks that can form in lifelong relationships.

Black Panther and Small Axe star Letitia Wright takes the lead in I Am Danielle, which reflects on trust and the difficulties of young love in an age of social media.

However, the trilogy begins with I Am Victoria, which stars one of Britain’s most acclaimed small-screen actors, the Bafta-winning Suranne Jones.

She first found fame in Coronation Street as the feisty Karen McDonald, but while some soap stars have struggled to find roles after leaving, she’s continued to go from strength to strength since quitting the cobbles.

Her role in the award-winning Unforgiven caught the attention of critics who wouldn’t normally pay much attention to what was going on in Weatherfield, and found more success in Scott & Bailey. It was arguably the much talked-about Doctor Foster that confirmed her standing as one of Britain’s most reliable leading ladies, and won her a clutch of awards, including the Best Actress Bafta. She picked up more nominations for Gentleman Jack, so the team behind I Am Victoria can feel proud of snapping her up, although she’s equally pleased to be working with Savage.

Suranne says: “Dominic always tells important stories with great sensitivity and the process so far has been wonderfully collaborative and open which is something I thrive on. I can’t wait to make what will be a very personal and thought-provoking piece and I’m thrilled to be telling this story with [co-star Ashley Walters]. I hope it really speaks to people and helps continue the important discussions around mental health.”

Her character Victoria seems to have it all, including the perfect family, job and home. Yet behind the veneer of happiness, she’s feeling the pressure, and her struggle with her mental health is affecting the people around her. She needs help, but will she find the strength to ask for it?

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