English actress. Born in Rochdale, she has been acting since the age of 13, appearing in a number of British television programmes. She played Beth Jordache on the Channel 4 soap Brookside which had the first lesbian kiss on British television in January 1994. She made her West End stage début in London in 2001, and has subsequently appeared on stage in several productions, including an adaptation of Breakfast at Tiffany’s and as Yelena in a 2012 production of Chekhov’s Uncle Vanya.
She was previously in a relationship with the actor David Thewlis, and in 2005 had a daughter by him.
In 2001, Friel began a relationship with actor David Thewlis, after the pair met on a flight to Cannes. Their daughter, Gracie Ellen Mary Friel, was born on 9 July 2005 at Portland Hospital in London. In December 2010, Friel and Thewlis separated after almost ten years together.