16/05/2017 21:38 BST | Updated 17/05/2017 10:51 BST

What Happened When 'Three Girls' Star Maxine Peake Met Whistleblower Sara Rowbotham

'I find the lack of care mind-blowing.'

Maxine Peake reveals that, when she sat down with Rochdale whistleblower Sara Rowbotham, she was horrified by what she learnt about how the sexual health worker was ignored in her quest to help vulnerable young girls.

In BBC drama ‘Three Girls’, Maxine plays Sara, who is a lone voice speaking up for the dozens of young girls who were groomed for sexual abuse by what became a notorious sex ring.

Maxine plays Sara Rowbotham in 'Three Girls'

Maxine said at a recent screening:

“It was really important to meet her. I knew she was open to being spoken to. I went to meet her and we hit it off as soon as I walked in the room. I thought, ‘This is someone I’ve got to play,’ and we’ve stayed in touch since.”

For Maxine, the most shocking part of the story was how Sara was ignored by authorities as she battled for years, making what she later claimed were 181 specific referrals.

“For me it was the aftermath, finding out how horrifically she was treated, as is often the case with whistleblowers, because she’d highlighted problems with the workings,” said Maxine. 

Sara Rowbotham tried to help the girls she came into contact with, but noone listened

“[Sara] had been working with HIV patients, and that had got overwhelming for her, and she’d moved to working in sexual health with young girls.

“She was more frustrated, because of the injustice that was happening to these young girls, and she was constantly fighting, constantly being told to shut up.

“People weren’t helping her, they were constantly telling her to keep quiet. She was doing this work on her own, to a point, and nobody seemed interested in helping these young girls, really vulnerable young women, in desperate situations. I find the lack of care mind-blowing.”

‘Three Girls’ continues on BBC One this week. Catch up on BBCiPlayer. 

Photo galleryThree Girls See Gallery