Maxine Peake will star alongside Lesley Sharp in a new BBC1 drama based on the Rochdale sex abuse scandal

Maxine Peake will star alongside Lesley Sharp in a new BBC1 drama based on the Rochdale sex abuse scandal.

The three-part series, Three Girls, which has just started filming, will explore how the victims were groomed and how their accounts of abuse were initially ignored. Maxine Peake (pictured) and Lesley Sharp will play two women who finally listen to their harrowing accounts.

Paul Kaye, Lisa Riley and Jill Halfpenny will also star alongside Maxine and Lesley, as the parents of the girls, who have given their support to the drama.

Former EastEnders actor Ace Bhatti will play Nazir Afzal, the former chief crown prosecutor for the north-west who has also worked as a consultant on Three Girls, which has been three years in the planning.

“Whatever I thought I knew about what had happened in Rochdale, I knew nothing until I met the girls and their families,” says Nicole Taylor, the show’s writer, whose previous credits include Sheridan Smith drama The C Word.

“Listening to them was the beginning of understanding – not just of the terrible suffering they experienced but of the courage it took to persist and persist over years, in telling authorities who didn’t want to know, and ultimately participate in the court proceedings that brought justice.’

The real-life girls were groomed and sexually abused for five years between 2008 and 2012 and nine men have since been convicted and sentenced.