Why the lead in A Song For Jenny had to be a real-life mum…

Emily Watson has taken on some pretty tough roles in her career including a poverty-stricken matriarch in Angela's Ashes, tragic cellist Jacqueline Du Pre in Hilary and Jackie and a wife whose husband is left paralysed after an accident in Breaking The Waves.

But tonight sees the twice Oscar-nominated actress in a role which she describes as her toughest yet.


In A Song For Jenny, which is based on London terror attacks, Emily plays Julie Nicholson, whose 24-year-old daughter Jenny was killed in one of the tube bombings on 7 July, 2005.

For Julie, a Church of England priest, it was important to her that whoever played her in the drama should have children of her own.

Emily has two children, and was pregnant with her first child at the time of the attacks 10 years ago.

Julie explained: “I believed it was important that whoever played me should be a mother, and understand viscerally the powerful bond.

“Emily is an extraordinary and courageous actor who takes risks. Her stillness and quietness is as powerful as her actions and spoken words. There were times when I didn’t know if I was watching Emily or myself.”

A Song For Jenny

Emily Watson plays Julie in A Song For Jenny (BBC)

“To contemplate what happened to Julie’s daughter happening to my own, is a brink that I have to pull back from," says Emily. "In rehearsals, it was as if we had to stop ourselves from letting everything flow because it was too much, and we had to hold it back and wait for the camera to be there because it was so devastating and u nlike anything I’ve experienced.”

Nicola Wren plays Jenny in A Song For Jenny

Nicola Wren plays Jenny in A Song For Jenny (BBC)

A Song For Jenny is on BBC1 tonight (5 July) at 9.00pm.

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