She and Thewlis, 47, who have a five-year-old daughter, Gracie, have been forced apart by acting commitments for the past six months.

A friend told the Mail: ‘Things have not been great for a long time and they have tried to keep this quiet to protect everyone.

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In 2007, she started playing Charlotte "Chuck" Charles in Pushing Daisies, a new television series from the creator of Dead Like Me and Wonderfalls, on the American network ABC.

Henry Bond's photograph depicts Anna with David Thewlis.

'We’ve talked about it, but it’s more important to have a baby,' he said. Anna changed me for the better, from a rather wild, restless character into a gentle soul. She's gregarious, very vivacious, very social, very tactile, very outgoing.' Miss Friel rose to fame 17 years ago playing Beth Jordache in the Channel 4 soap Brookside and shocking TV viewers with the first-ever lesbian screen kiss.

'Marriage doesn't make any difference to the commitment. The steamy kiss – and storyline in which she and her sister buried their sex-abusing father under the patio – guaranteed top ratings.

Adam Collis Sunset Strip as Tammy Franklin, opposite Jared Leto, Simon Baker and Nick Stahl; All for Love with Richard E.

Grant; A Midsummer Night's Dream as Hermia, opposite Christian Bale, Dominic West and Calista Flockhart; Timeline as Gerard Butler's object of affection; Me Without You opposite Michelle Williams; and Goal! Her television work includes the short lived The Jury for the Fox and ITV1's Watermelon which was based on the novel by Marian Keyes.

The two previously worked together during her appearance on The Street.

It also featured Barnaby Kay, an actor whom she worked with in Without You.

She was previously in a relationship with the actor David Thewlis and, in 2005, had a daughter with him. Her mother Julie (née Bamford) is a special needs teacher, and her father Desmond "Des" Friel was a French teacher who now owns a web design company.

She began her training as an actress at Oldham Theatre Workshop. Her performance led to a series of appearances on various British television shows, including Emmerdale.

In 2013 Friel was cast in Showtime's new drama The Vatican opposite Kyle Chandler. Friel was cast in the lead role of Sergeant Odelle Ballard in NBC's American Odyssey for one season in 2015.