Sarah Harding will make her TV acting debut in Freefall, a hard-hitting BBC2 film about the effects of the downturn on ordinary lives.

The 27-year-old Girls Aloud star plays a nail technician who dreams of owning her own chain of beauty salons while her partner, played by Mamma Mia star Dominic Cooper, shamelessly lines his pockets by selling homebuyers mortgages they cannot afford.

Freefall was directed by Bafta-winner Dominic Savage, and the drama was completely unscripted, the actors improvising scenes and responding during filming to real events in the financial markets.

It forms part of BBC Two’s spring-summer season, which also features a series of programmes examining how the recession is changing Britain – including Mary Portas looking at the high street, Newsnight’s economics editor Paul Mason examining unemployment and Sir Gerry Robinson tacklng manufacturing and the motor industry.

Kate Silverton will host Property Watch, which will explore how the changes in the property market are affecting people’s lives.

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