‘Making the Downton Abbey movie was like a school reunion’

‘Making the Downton Abbey movie was like a school reunion’

Froggatt is sure of herself, proud of her track record, but ever grateful that opportunities in film, television and theatre keep coming. Friendly, unstarry and polite, she will chat with fans but if they overstep the mark – by taking a photograph of her without asking – she asks them to delete the picture, then offers to pose with them properly. “I am not an animal in a zoo. I am approachable.”

Pragmatism rules. “If people don’t watch what I do, I don’t have a job. If you resent it [public attention], you have a very miserable life ahead, and what’s the point of that? You have to be grateful for the things you’ve got. Most people are lovely.”

Froggatt doesn’t talk herself up, but nor does she pretend she doesn’t deserve to be where she is. She’s from Yorkshire, after all. Born in Scarborough and brought up near Whitby, with wild moors on one side and grey sea on the other. Her parents had a 10-acre smallholding, raising sheep and making yogurt and cheese from their milk. While they were working, her elder brother took her to see films, the beginning of a fascination with worlds beyond her own. Her parents, Ann and Keith, took her acting ambition in their stride. “My dad said, ‘You’ve only got one life. You spend a lot of it at work. Try to do something you love.’” 

At 13, she went to stage school in Maidenhead, seven hours’ drive away. At first she was homesick and suffered the further misery of not being understood because of her strong Yorkshire accent. Her father offered to bring her home but she stuck it out, and after a week, she “loved it”.

At 16, she landed the role of a teenage mother in Coronation Street and has supported herself by acting ever since. “I had to take a few jobs to pay the mortgage with no thought about whether it was a great role,” she says. “It’s been a bit touch-and-go at times. Now I’m fortunate in that I can be picky – or pickier. And I try to be.”

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