7 things you need to know about Anna Friel

The actress best known in the UK for that kiss in Brookside has been pretty busy since she left the Merseyside soap.

Anna Friel is set to return as tormented detective Marcella in the second series of the drama written by The Bridge's Hans Rosenfeldt.

Marcella is still battling blackouts and a nightmare ex - and this time she'll have a chilling new case to solve, too.

[Read more: Marcella stars share series 2 secrets]

[Read more: Where is Marcella filmed?]

We find out more about the 41-year-old actress and mum in the run-up to season two coming to ITV.

She started young

Anna made her first screen appearance at just 13 in Alan Bleasdale’s gritty drama serial GBH. In the seven-part political drama, she played one of the children of Michael Palin's character, school headmaster Jim Nelson.

She's no stranger to controversy

The role that brought her to fame – Beth Jordache in the Channel 4 soap Brookside – propelled her into the headlines as one half of the first lesbian kiss on mainstream British TV.

Since then, she says, she seems to have spent a lot of her screen time in the bath. “I find myself in lots of baths in everything I do. I think I have done about 10 bath scenes,” she told the Daily Mirror

She defied the odds to become a mum

After suffering from a ruptured ovarian cyst and being diagnosed with endometriosis in 2001, Anna was told that she would be unlikely ever to have children.

[Read more: Everything you need to know about Marcella series 2]

Nevertheless, a few years later she had a daughter, Gracie, with then-partner, actor David Thewlis.

A few years later, Gracie - who is named after Gracie Fields - appeared with her mother in a small part in Juraj Jakubisko’s spooky thriller Bathory.

She's not afraid to send herself up

In David Walliams and Matt Lucas’s popular but divisive mockumentary comedy Come Fly With Me, Anna appeared as a parody of herself. This Anna Friel was completely bald and left her expensive wig on an aeroplane.

Executive Passenger Liaison Moses Beacon (Walliams) went through the lost property basket to seek out a replacement. Anna’s make-up was so convincing that a lot of people were convinced that she really might be bald.

She was a US TV star, too

As well as a number of movie roles and one-off dramas, Anna also appeared in a long-running US comedy drama series Pushing Daisies, for which she was nominated for a Golden Globe in 2008.

The quirky show told the story of a baker who had the power to bring people back from the dead, notably his girlfriend Chuck, played by Anna.

[Read more: Where is Bancroft filmed?]

It established her as a star in America and creator Bryan Fuller has said he asks every year to renew the two-season series, even trying to pursue a musical version which he hopes Tim Minchin would write the lyrics for.

She's no stranger to the stage

In addition to her TV credits and a string of movie appearances including A Midsummer Night's Dream, Timeline, and Limitless, Anna has also built herself a career as an accomplished stage actress.

In 2001, she made her West End stage début in London in a fringe production of Lulu, which also transferred to Broadway.

[Read more: Trauma star John Simm's 5 best roles]

Anna also appeared in the acclaimed 2012 production of Chekhov's Uncle Vanya and a revival of Breakfast At Tiffany’s, which notoriously featured a nude scene not present in either the film or the original novella.

She had a confidence crisis over Marcella

We can't wait to see Anna back on screen as troubled cop Marcella, but what you might not suspect is that the star nearly turned down the original hit series.

She was worried that she would have nothing new to offer a saturated market of detective shows with a female lead.

Anna said: "I just thought, 'Oh God, how can I do this, there's so many amazing female detectives that have done it so well, I don't know what I can offer differently.' So I had to really work hard on that.

"I think when it was received as well as it was, I thought, 'Well, maybe I have done something that is different and I've got my own ownership and my own stamp on it.' That was very nice."

Marcella returns on February 19 at 9pm on ITV.

Catch up on what you've missed from Marcella with BT TV - watch via the ITV Hub app.

Learn more about BT TV > 

BT TV customers - Watch now on the BT Player

What to watch next...

More from BT