Three Girls (TV series)

Last updated
Three Girls
Genre True crime
Written by Nicole Taylor
Directed by Philippa Lowthorpe
Starring Maxine Peake
Lesley Sharp
Molly Windsor
Ria Zmitrowicz
Liv Hill
Ace Bhatti
Paul Kaye
Jill Halfpenny
Bo Bragason
Lisa Riley
ComposerNatalie Holt
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language English
No. of series1
No. of episodes3 (list of episodes)
Executive producersLucy Richer
Hilary Salmon
Susan Hogg
ProducerSimon Lewis
CinematographyMatt Gray BSC
EditorÚna Ní Dhonghaíle
Running time60 minutes
Production company BBC Studios and Studio Lambert
Original network BBC One
Picture format 16:9 (1080i)
Audio format Stereo
Original release16 May (2017-05-16) 
18 May 2017 (2017-05-18)

Three Girls is a three-part British television drama series, written by screenwriter Nicole Taylor, and directed by Philippa Lowthorpe, broadcast on three consecutive nights between 16 and 18 May 2017 on BBC One. [1] A co-production between BBC Studios and Studio Lambert, the series is a dramatised version of the events surrounding the Rochdale child sex abuse ring, and describes how the authorities failed to investigate allegations of rape because the victims were perceived as unreliable witnesses. [2]


Three Girls drew a strong viewing audience upon its first broadcast, with 8.24 million viewers for episode one, 7.88 million for episode two and 8.19 million for episode three. [3] The series was released on DVD in Region 2 on 8 January 2018. [4]

A BBC documentary on the case, The Betrayed Girls, was broadcast on 3 July 2017 as a follow-up to the drama. [5]


The story is told from the viewpoint of three of the victims: fourteen-year-old Holly Winshaw (Molly Windsor), sixteen-year-old Amber Bowen (Ria Zmitrowicz) and her younger sister Ruby (Liv Hill); although the focus later shifts to sexual health worker Sara Rowbotham (Maxine Peake), who became the main whistleblower who drew attention to the case after repeated pleas for help from social services and the police fell on deaf ears.

DC Margaret Oliver (Lesley Sharp), the lead investigator on the case, manages to gain the support of her superior officer, Sandy Guthrie (Jason Hughes) to instigate a full-blown investigation. However, despite significant evidence, the CPS decided to drop the case because of an “unrealistic prospect of conviction”. After Margaret convinces Amber Bowen to testify against her former boyfriend, Tariq (Wasim Zakir), the case is re-opened by recently appointed public prosecutor Nazir Afzal (Ace Bhatti), who with the assistance of the police and the victims involved, manages to secure convictions against ten men involved in the ring. [6]

Rowbotham, Oliver, and Afzal all acted as consultants on the series. [7]



EpisodeTitleWritten byDirected byViewers
(millions) [8]
Original airdate
1"Episode 1"Nicole TaylorPhilippa Lowthorpe8.2416 May 2017 (2017-05-16)
New to the area, Holly is keen to make friends but finds herself drawn into a frightening world she is unable to escape - a world all too familiar to sexual health worker Sara. As her relationship with her family fractures, Holly finds the courage to speak out, but will her nightmare finally end?
2"Episode 2"Nicole TaylorPhilippa Lowthorpe7.8817 May 2017 (2017-05-17)
With her pleas previously ignored, Sara is both relieved and unsurprised when the true extent of the abuse and betrayal is finally uncovered. Can Maggie and the police team persuade the girls to revisit the horror they suffered? And what does that do to the fragile lives they have struggled to rebuild?
3"Episode 3"Nicole TaylorPhilippa Lowthorpe8.1918 May 2017 (2017-05-18)
With the ordeal drawing to a close and betrayals still raw, what does the future hold for the victims of the abuse and those who fought so hard to support them? Can justice be served, and can their experiences stop the mistakes happening again?

In June 2017, a terrorist attack was launched against mosque-goers in Finsbury Park. The attacker, Darren Osborne, used a van to run over Muslim pedestrians, killing one man and injuring several others. In the course of the trial, it was remarked that Osborne developed an obsession with Muslims after watching Three Girls. [9]



2017 WFTV Awards The Deluxe Director AwardPhilippa LowthorpeWon [10]
2017 Festival de la Fiction TV Awards  [ fr ] Jury Special Prize for European Fiction  [ fr ]Three GirlsWon
2018 British Academy Television Awards Best Mini-SeriesThree GirlsWon [11]
Best Actress Molly Windsor Won
Best Supporting Actress Liv HillNominated
British Academy Television Craft Awards Best Director in FictionPhilippa LowthorpeWon [12]
Best Writer in FictionNicole TylerWon
Best Editing in Fiction Úna Ní Dhonghaíle Won
Irish Film & Television Awards EditingÚna Ní DhonghaíleWon [13]
RTS Programme Awards - West of EnglandBest Television DramaThree GirlsWon [14]
Best Director DramaPhilippa LowthorpeWon
RTS Programme AwardsMini-SeriesThree GirlsWon [15]
Writer Award - DramaNicole TaylorWon
Breakthrough Award - On ScreenMolly WindsorNominated
Broadcasting Press Guild Best Single Drama/Mini-seriesThree GirlsWon [16]
UK Broadcast Awards Best Drama Series or SerialThree GirlsWon [17]

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