Ruth Wilson is a skilled sheep shearer.

The 36-year-old actress plays a farmer in new thriller 'Dark River' and did some research on a real livestock facility in Yorkshire, where she got stuck into jobs such as de-fleecing the wooly creatures, a task she particularly enjoyed.

She said: ''It's amazing: you have to wear these special shoes, and then you get them between your legs, and there's a way of turning them round and keeping the skin taut so that you don't nick it. I was dead nervous, but you have to act like you know what you're doing so they give in to you. Not that I was particularly quick. A real shearer takes about a minute, whereas I would take 10.''

Though Ruth enjoyed life on the farm, she found it surprisingly gory as something ''disgusting'' happened every day.

She said: ''They were lovely. But something gruesome and horrific happens every day on a farm. A sheep will break its leg, or you'll have to lance a swelling on its neck that's full of pus. It was disgusting, the stuff I saw; all that life and death and brutality.''

In one scene in the film, Ruth had to skin a dead rabbit, and though she'd had coaching in the correct technique, she quipped her rage at the EU referendum result was what got her through the scene as she just imagined the creature was one of the politicians who had spearheaded the Leave campaign.

She told The Observer magazine: ''Basically, I took Brexit out on the rabbit. I imagined it was Nigel Farage or Boris Johnson, and that... well, it kind of kept me focused.''

Ruth is about to start work on her passion project - a drama for the BBC and PBS that will tell the true story of her own grandparents.

Ruth will play her won grandmother, Alice, in 'Mrs Wilson', about her discovery, after her husband's death that he was a bigamist who had married four times, and none of his wives and various children knew of one another.

Ruth said: ''We still don't really know the truth about my grandfather. Was he a con man, or was he a hero? Did MI6 have to close him down for some reason? In the end, she [Alice] had to find some other form of truth, and that was Jesus. It's fascinating.''