Anna Louise Friel was born on 12 July 1976 in Rochdale, Lancashire. While at school she envisaged a career as a barrister and, after passing 9 GCSEs, went on to study for her 'A' levels at a local college. Anna was bitten by the acting bug, landing several minor TV appearances in soaps (Emmerdale and Coronation Street) and a part as one of Michael Palin's daughters in the acclaimed Alan Bleasdale serial GBH on Channel 4. By the time Anna followed this with the rÃƒÂ´le of Beth Jordache in the channel's soap Brookside, any thoughts of the Bar had been put to one side. She became hugely popular. Beth's strength of character was admired by mums and their teenage daughters, and Anna's fresh beauty stirred lustful letching in dads and their sons. Ratings grew steadily as the storyline developed to reveal that Beth and her sister had been sexually abused by their father, who got his comeuppance when Beth and her mother killed him and buried the body under the patio. All good soap opera stuff, if that's what blows your frock up.
True notoriety came however when it was revealed that Beth was gay. The impact was quite amazing, partly because she was as far as you can get from the stereotypical lesbian image of crew cut, dungarees and Doc Martens. The gay community lapped it up (resists temptation to insert smiley), and by the time the ground-breaking first ever prime time lesbian TV kiss was aired Beth Jordache had become a national lesbian icon. Although it was Anna's decision to leave the show at the height of her character's popularity, the haste of her departure and the way that she was written out (a previously undiagnosed heart condition striking her down while on remand for her father's killing) left something of a sour taste in the mouth. The soap's ratings have never before or since risen to the level that they achieved during Anna's stint as Beth, but Anna's career has continued apace.