Who is Vicky McClure’s character in Without Sin and is she based on a real person?

Vicky McClure's character in Without Sin must confront every parent's worst nightmare as she attempts to get to the truth...

Vicky McClure's character in Without Sin, Stella Tomlinson
(Image credit: ITVX/ITV)

Vicky McClure’s character in Without Sin is on a journey of discovery as she sets out to find out what really happened the night her teenage daughter died.

Fans might still be watching Line of Duty again, hoping for another season but the high-octane police drama isn’t the only place to see star Vicky McClure in action. She stepped into the role of Lana Washington in Trigger Point on ITV last year and now Vicky McClure’s character in Without sin, Stella, is taking thriller fans on a complex journey as she unravels who really killed her daughter Maisy. This Is England actor Johnny Harris plays Charles Stone but although he’s in prison for the crime, the more the grief-stricken mother and murderer talk, the more doubts creep into her mind. As new details emerge, Stella undertakes her own investigation to find out if Charles really is guilty. 

Here we reveal who Vicky McClure’s character in Without Sin is, whether Stella was based on a real person and how to watch the mystery unfold…

*Warning: Spoilers ahead!*

VICKY MCCLURE as Stella Tomlinson and JOHNNY HARRIS as Charles Stone.

(Image credit: ITVX/ITV)

Who is Vicky McClure’s character in Without Sin? 

In a radical departure from her iconic Line of Duty role as Kate, Vicky McClure’s character in Without Sin, Stella Tomlinson, is a grieving mother. In the ITVX drama, she's still struggling to process and move on after the death of her only child Maisy. Fourteen-year-old Maisy was found dead at home with Charles Stone standing over her, covered in blood. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly given this horrific scene, Stella believes he’s responsible for Maisy’s murder and he’s convicted and sent to prison for the crime. Three years later Stella is convinced to come face-to-face with Charles in prison after agreeing to the visit alongside a Restorative Justice Mediator. 

Is Stella based on a real person? 

There might be plenty of unmissable dramas out there loosely inspired by the lives and experiences of real people, from ITV’s A Spy Among Friends’ true story of betrayal and espionage to devastating The Stranger true story. However, Vicky McClure’s character Stella in Without Sin isn’t one of them. She is entirely fictional, as is the storyline of the new four-part drama which was the creation of Frances Poletti, though Restorative Justice programmes do of course exist and were likely a major source of inspiration.

However, whilst the storyline and characters might be Frances’ original creations, it seems that when it came to the setting of Without Sin, real life experiences definitely played a part. Just like where the gripping BBC drama Sherwood was filmed, Without Sin’s chilling events take place and were shot in Nottingham in the East Midlands. This is where both Frances and Vicky hail from and the Line of Duty star has opened up to ITV about why it’s so important to her that the show is set in her real-life hometown. 

“It's something we've wanted to do for such a long time. Working with Fran and Sian and knowing that we were working with people who were passionate about what we wanted to do, which was working class stories,” she explained. "The fact that Frances is from Nottingham, Johnny [Harris who plays Charles Stone] is kind of from Nottingham now."

VICKY MCCLURE as Stella Tomlinson and ANDREA LOWE as Bobbi Carter.

(Image credit: ITVX/ITV)

Whilst Frances added, "It's such a celebration of the city [...] and we wanted to show that big shows like this can be in Nottingham, it doesn't always have to be London and Manchester."

"A lot of the crew were also from Nottingham," she added. "There was so much good will behind it."

So whilst Stella isn’t based on a real person, Vicky McClure’s character does live in the actor’s home city and the production did strive for a distinctly Nottingham-feel and focus to the drama. 

What happens to Vicky McClure's character in Without Sin? 

There’s nothing that shouts ‘psychological drama’ quite like an epic rollercoaster of twists and Without Sin certainly has plenty of those. When the ITVX drama starts Stella Tomlinson is convinced that Charles Stone murdered her daughter. Though as the drama goes on it casts suspicion upon this conclusion as Stella starts to talk with Charles and put together the pieces of what truly happened to Maisy the night she died.  

JOHNNY HARRIS as Charles Stone.

(Image credit: ITVX/ITV)

Maisy had been rumored to have a boyfriend who dealt drugs before she died and Stella sets out to determine who this might’ve been after hearing about him. Whilst the guilty party is ultimately finally revealed in the conclusion - and plenty of fans likely won’t have seen that final twist coming - this isn’t the only revelation that comes to light.

Throughout Without Sin Stella has struggled to come to terms with losing Maisy and it’s revealed that she was so overwhelmed with guilt because she’d received a text supposedly from her daughter that night and had ignored it.

VICKY MCCLURE as Stella Tomlinson

(Image credit: ITVX/ITV)

It had already been revealed that Maisy had been home alone because her dad was having an affair and Stella had been out drinking. It turned out she’d seen the text asking her to come home urgently and hadn’t because she’d chosen to stay out, leading her to believe that if she’d only come home earlier Maisy might not have died. 

By the finale it’s revealed that the text wasn’t sent by Maisy at all and had been part of an elaborate plan, meaning Stella can finally begin to forgive herself as even if she had come home immediately, there was nothing she could’ve done to save her daughter. 

How many episodes of Without Sin are there and where to watch them all? 

Given it’s brilliant performances and intense storyline it’s hardly surprising that many thriller fans could be eager to race through the entire series of Without Sin in one-go and thankfully, that’s possible. Rather than other shows like Silent Witness season 26 where fans have to wait each week for new releases, all four episodes of Without Sin can now be watched via ITVX - the channel’s on-demand platform. 

This means that once you’ve delved into the world of Vicky McClure’s character Stella and her complex and ever-evolving relationship with Johnny Harris’ Charles Stone you will be able to watch at your own pace as you wonder whether he’s really as guilty as she believes he is… 

JOHNNY HARRIS as Charles Stone

(Image credit: ITVX/ITV)

If you’re abroad when you want to watch Without Sin then you won’t be able to watch like you normally would due to regional restrictions. Luckily there’s an easy solution and you can use a VPN to continue watching. This is a handy bit of software that changes your IP address so that you can access on-demand content or live TV just as if you were at home.

Our sister site, TechRadar, has tested all of the major VPN services and they rate ExpressVPN as the absolute best. They say, “It’s compatible with all of your devices, supports most streaming services, and ranks among the fastest. You can even install it on devices like an Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, Xbox, and PlayStation. So for a one-stop-shop, you can’t go wrong with Express.”  


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If you've never installed a VPN before, don't worry, it's quick and easy. Just follow these three steps:

  1. Download and install the VPN following ExpressVPN's easy-to-follow instructions.
  2. Once you've installed your VPN, open the app and select your server location as anywhere in the UK.
  3. With your VPN installed and server location set to UK, you can now watch Without Sin online. 

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Now you know all about Vicky McClure's character in Without Sin, you can enjoy watching this unmissable ITVX drama at your own pace as you come to your own conclusion about Maisy's murderer. Did Charles really do it or has Stella been blaming the wrong man? Only time will tell...

Emma Shacklock

Emma is a Royal Editor with eight years experience working in publishing. Her specialist areas include the British Royal Family, ranging from protocol to outfits. Alongside putting her royal knowledge to good use, Emma knows all there is to know about the latest TV shows on the BBC, ITV and more. When she’s not writing about the next unmissable show to add to your to-watch list or delving into royal protocol, Emma enjoys cooking, long walks and watching yet more crime dramas!