Angela Black—ITV drama is hit with complaints about portrayal of domestic abuse

ITV's new TV drama Angela Black has been criticized by viewers for its portrayal of domestic abuse

Angela Black
(Image credit: ITV)

Angela Black, ITV's new drama series, launched on Sunday and fans have had a mixed reaction to the portrayal of domestic violence that was portrayed in the opening scenes of the show.

The opening scene of a show depicts a dinner party as Angela Black (Joanne Froggatt) and her husband Olivier (Michiel Huisman) host another couple in their home. As the couples converse, Angela foreshadows the domestic abuse in the show by talking about hippos. 

"I was watching this nature documentary and it was saying that hippos are the most dangerous animal in the world. They cause more deaths than crocodiles and they attack for no reason, not for food, not territory, just because. And their sweat turns red, some sort of natural sunscreen apparently," said Angela.

The conversation then moves to sunburns and Angela accidentally reveals that her husband was nearly burnt while playing golf. This was clearly a faux pas as Olivier had lied to the couple and said he was working. Olivier and Angela exchange looks as Angela covers her mistake by saying, "Sorry, I'm being stupid, I'm thinking of Sunday." The couples laugh it off and continue to make jokes at Olivier's expense.


Angela Black ITV drama starring Joanne Froggatt and Michiel Huisman

(Image credit: ITV)

Later in the kitchen, when the guests have left, Olivier begins a fight with Angela as he says, "You embarrassed me." The argument escalates as Olivier accuses Angela of deliberately embarrassing him. He then grabs her hair and yanks her backwards out of the shot.

Although the couple is not in view of the audience, we can hear muffled screams and blood spattering as Olivier beats up his wife. 

The scene then pans to a bloody tooth on the floor and the ends of Angela's hair, it is clear that Olivier has punched her so hard that a tooth has fallen loose and she has been left in a crumpled heap on the floor.

Angela Black

(Image credit: ITV)

ITV's Angela Black domestic abuse backlash

This scene, which takes place within the first 4 and a half minutes of the show, was met with a lot of criticism from reviewers. A review from The Guardian suggested that in the show, "domestic abuse drama teeters towards the exploitative." Similarly, an article from The Independent said, "Domestic abuse deserves serious representation—this cliché-ridden drama falls short."

Viewers on Twitter were also disturbed by this, "Unbelievable #ITV #AngelaBlack with violence towards women increasing, you show a programme where a man beats her while she screams knocking her tooth out…Really in this pervasive atmosphere of hate towards women. When women feel unsafe to walk the streets. Shame on you," said one viewer.

Another agreed and added, "I thought exactly this. Prime time slot. Captive audience as Sunday night. By 9.07pm, yet ANOTHER woman is having the shit kicked out of her dressed up as entertainment."  

Angela Black ITV drama starring Joanne Froggatt

(Image credit: ITV)

However, not all of the reviews were negative. Many fans were glad that the violence was off-screen and alluded to instead of shown on screen. Others were also pleased that the show was raising awareness about domestic violence, and how it's more common in society than some may think.

"Really glad to see the new series on ITV this week. "Angela Black" Great that this series will be raising awareness of domestic abuse. A seemingly happy marriage to a charming man. Mmmmm certainly ringing bells in my head," said one viewer.

"This will be a hard watch and yes it's a drama but please remember this is happening behind closed doors every day! #AngelaBlack" said another.

This series is one of the many recent shows that focuses on the domestic violence and abuse that is perpetrated against women. Netflix's Maid also discussed similar themes and made emotional abuse against women the focal point of the show. 

Similarly, Big Little Lies—which came from the author of Nine Perfect Strangers—had a key plot line that was focused on domestic violence.

Angela Black continues on Sundays at 9pm on ITV.

Laura Harman
Laura Harman

Laura is a news writer for woman&home who primarily covers entertainment and celebrity news. Laura dabbles in lifestyle, royal, beauty and fashion news, and her favourite stories to cover as anything and everything to do with television and film. She is also passionate about feminism and equality and loves writing about gender issues and feminist literature.


Laura loves drinking and eating and can often be found trying to get reservations at London's trendiest restaurants. When she's not wining and dining, Laura can also be found baking, hiking with her dog, shopping, and practicing yoga.