Jill Halfpenny on playing a traumatised mother in dark psychological drama ‘The Drowning’

Jill Halfpenny in The Drowning.
Jill Halfpenny stars in 'The Drowning'. (Image credit: Channel 5)

Jill Halfpenny heads the cast of Channel 5’s new four-part thriller The Drowning, as a troubled woman who thinks her missing child has returned.

The drama begins nine years after Jodie’s four-year-old son Tom disappears during a family day out at a lake. But Jodie is shocked when she sees a teenage boy, Daniel (newcomer Cody Molko), in the street and becomes convinced that he is Tom. As she tries to prove it, she tells lies to get a job at Daniel's school and inveigles her way into the life he shares with his father Mark (Whitechapel’s Rupert Penry-Jones), but the truth gradually emerges with shocking consequences.

Here, Jill Halfpenny tells us about Jodie and the challenges of filming the emotional scenes in The Drowning.

Jill Halfpenny on her character Jodie.

“Jodie’s complex and has been piecing herself back together. There's lots going on inside that she feels no one will understand. They dredged the lake and didn’t find Tom, so when Jodie sees Daniel, she thinks, ‘You have to hold on to this, because otherwise you’ve rejected your son.’ She badly wants it to be true. Daniel even has the same scar as Tom and they develop a connection. But there are so many questions unanswered.”

Jill Halfpenny on whether we will root for Jodie.

Jill Halfpenny heads the cast of The Drowning.

Jill Halfpenny heads the cast of 'The Drowning'. (Image credit: Channel 5)

“Her actions are against the law and she becomes more extreme, but she starts being given clues, so you understand why she keeps going forward like a runaway train. I’ve sympathy for her. Her intentions are pure. If something happens to your child, you do everything in your power to get to the truth.”

Jill Halfpenny on the toughest scenes to film in The Drowning

“Almost every one! Jodie’s so tense, adrenalised and manipulative. She’s never relaxed and that’s exhausting, but in a good way, because you explore different elements of a person. After filming, it took a while to get rid of her though. I’d think about things that make me feel good to counteract the gloominess.”

Jill Halfpenny on working with the cast and easing the tension between takes on set.

Rupert Penry-Jones in The Drowning.

Rupert Penry-Jones as Mark in 'The Drowning'. (Image credit: Channel 5)

“Jonas Armstrong [who plays Jodie’s lawyer brother Jason] and I felt almost immediately like brother and sister. He is lovely and wants to do the best job he can and with Rupert, it was similar. We all had a laugh. It’s so intense, you have to let go and be silly. The more serious a drama is, the more laughs you have weirdly!”

When can I watch The Drowning?

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The Drowning will air nightly at 9pm on Channel 5 from Monday 1 February to Thursday 4 February.

Caren Clark

Caren has been a journalist specializing in TV for almost two decades and is a Senior Features Writer for TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and What’s On TV magazines and she also writes for What to Watch.

Over the years, she has spent many a day in a muddy field or an on-set catering bus chatting to numerous stars on location including the likes of Olivia Colman, David Tennant, Suranne Jones, Jamie Dornan, Dame Judi Dench and Sir Derek Jacobi as well as Hollywood actors such as Glenn Close and Kiefer Sutherland.

Caren will happily sit down and watch any kind of telly (well, maybe not sci-fi!), but she particularly loves period dramas like Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey and The Crown and she’s also a big fan of juicy crime thrillers from Line of Duty to Poirot.

In her spare time, Caren enjoys going to the cinema and theatre or curling up with a good book.