Katherine Kelly on her new drama about a teacher acquitted of murder


The unrighteous usually seek vengeful revenge in TV dramas, pity themselves, and figure out how to get revenge.

But Katherine Kelly’s latest project is a quiet appreciation for those who don’t rage against the horrible things that happened to them – they put their best foot forward and try to move on.

Innocent II, a 2018 four-part follow-up to Innocent but with a completely new story and setting – is about a former teacher, Sally, who was wrongfully incarcerated for murdering one of her students.

Still, she plans to carry on as usual, despite being the victim of a massive miscarriage of justice. While this is a story of a woman who is treated very badly, Katherine says the way Sally deals with it is both intriguing and realistic.

Katherine Kelly stars as wrongfully convicted teacher, Sally, in ITV’s four-part series Innocent II

She’s traumatized and vulnerable, but she thinks, ‘I need to get out of bed. I don’t want to, but I have to. ‘She is progressing in a calm, stoic way and I recognize that in many women in my own life.

‘A lot has happened to them, but they just push through. I haven’t seen much of that undisputed power on the screen and that’s why I wanted to play Sally. She is a quiet heroine. ‘

Innocent, starring Lee Ingleby as a man falsely convicted of murdering his wife, was ITV’s most watched drama of the year and this second series, once again in search of the underdog, is arguably just as big.

We learn that Sally, the head of English at a school in Keswick, Lake District, had taken Matty Taylor, a promising 16-year-old student from a troubled home, under her wing.

But when he was stabbed to death with a broken cider bottle, a witness claimed that Sally and Matty were having an affair. In the absence of a watertight alibi, Sally was sentenced to 15 years in prison.

The series begins five years later, when new evidence shows that Sally was six miles away at the time of the murder. But the declaration of her innocence does not mean she can go back to her old life.

Her husband Sam (Jamie Bamber) has divorced her while she was in prison and is preparing to marry Karen, a former family friend.

Sally finds an unlikely ally in DCI Michael Braithwaite, who is determined to catch Matty's killer.  Pictured: Shaun Dooley as DCI Braithwaite

Sally finds an unlikely ally in DCI Michael Braithwaite, who is determined to catch Matty’s killer. Pictured: Shaun Dooley as DCI Braithwaite

Meanwhile, her old colleagues refuse to let her come back to the school, a decision upheld by the governors, led by Karen. But Sally is determined to return, to bring Sam back and help find out who really killed Matty. And there she finds an unlikely ally.

DCI Michael Braithwaite (Shaun Dooley) is determined to catch Matty’s killer now that Sally is out in the open, and he too has a heartbreak after a family tragedy. The two bond as they try to help each other, but to everyone else, it looks like Sally’s homecoming is like a bomb going off.

‘What’s interesting is that in some ways all the characters are innocent, but something big has still happened to them,’ says Katherine, who first rose to fame on Coronation Street and has since garnered acclaim in Mr Selfridge and Gentleman Jack. .

“You look at each character and think,” It’s so hard for you. “

Sally still sees Sam as the love of her life. I’m not sure I could get the same kind of forgiveness, but I admire it. I am very good at not looking back. I never think, “Oh, I wish I had.”

Katherine said that after the year we've been through, viewers, like Sally, can appreciate getting our freedom back.  Pictured: Katherine as Sally

Katherine said that after the year we’ve been through, viewers, like Sally, can appreciate getting our freedom back. Pictured: Katherine as Sally

And I think after the year we’ve been through, we can all, like Sally, appreciate regaining our freedom. I was very aware of the background to everything that was going on.

There is a scene where she is released from prison and scrambles up a hill, where she blooms before our very eyes.

‘She is in this beautiful landscape and realizes that life is precious, so she won’t dwell on those five years. She wants to continue. ‘

Innocent II was filmed when Katherine had to pick herself up after divorcing her husband, IT consultant Ryan Clark, and moved from London to her hometown of Barnsley in August.

Her scenes were put back so that she could settle her children, Orla, seven, and Rose, four, into their new schools, before flying to Dublin, where all the interior scenes were shot.

‘We were originally going to film it in March, then it was moved to September. But my kids then started with a different school and the producers were really good at that, ”she says.

Creator Chris Lang, the man behind Unforgotten, says the idea for the story first came to him as a childhood nightmare.

“I used to read a lot of books about the war and children separated from their families, and I had a nightmare that I had been gone and my mother and father had new children and didn’t know me anymore. The idea that your life will stay the same while the person you love has moved on is terrifying. ‘

The setting of Keswick, where the outdoor scenes were filmed, is important to give the feeling of a small town, but also because of the cinematic background.

In a place like this, Sally’s return is marked. She’s in a goldfish bowl, which adds to the intrigue, ”says Chris.

‘I’m interested in characters who aren’t monsters, but who are weak and sometimes make terrible mistakes. This is an important lesson at the moment.

“We must show understanding and compassion; to see how people can fail, but they don’t have to be destroyed for it. ‘

Innocent II is on ITV later this month.