A CELEBRATED Warrington artist says she never ceases to be surprised where her paintings appear after working with Netflix producers on the upcoming series of The Crown.

Gillian Anderson will star as Margaret Thatcher in the fourth series of the award-winning show when it launches on November 15.

Fans of the drama – which chronicles the life of Queen Elizabeth II – will see an artwork on Thatcher's study wall in Downing Street of 'Wilberforce, the Number 10 Cat'.

Warrington Guardian:

Gillian Anderson as Margaret Thatcher

And that little piece of British political history belongs to Frances Broomfield.

Frances was invited to paint a picture of Wilberforce in 1987 after hearing that he was about to retire as 'chief mouser'.

The artist, who is best known for The Story and The Fable exhibition which celebrated some of Warrington best known characters, said: "Hearing the news about The Crown took me right back to that time when I painted Wilberforce just before his retirement.

"It was in 1987 and I was busy establishing my career as an artist in London, a very exciting time for me.

"I contacted Downing Street for permission to do a painting as it seemed an interesting subject and I was invited to tea by the senior staff member who looked after the cat.

"I met Wilberforce, who was quite elderly by then, and I was given a tour of the residence for background material.

Warrington Guardian:

Frances with the artwork back in the late 80s

"It feels quite dreamlike now to have been allowed behind the scenes at Downing Street, it was a great privilege.

"I was quite nervous approaching the world famous front door of Number 10 – but once inside I was made to feel welcome. The tea was, of course, perfect.

"Naturally I was more concerned with observing Wilberforce, and his surroundings, for my painting. I was given a private tour of the house to help with background details, but I later decided to use the exterior view of the building, which would be more recognisable to people."

The resulting painting was exhibited at Bond Street's Portal Gallery and sold to a private collector but the staff at Downing Street presented the then Prime Minister with a framed copy of the picture which Frances was invited to sign.

READ MORE > Frances Broomfield celebrates 30 years since Story and The Fable

Frances added: "I was later told that the Prime Minister was delighted with the print and placed the picture on the wall 'with her own hands'.

"The painting was shown on Anne Diamond's Good Morning Britain show and the story was also picked up by the Daily Mail

and other newspapers at the time."

It is unclear how many scenes the Wilberforce painting will appear in but Frances told Weekend she is impressed the show producers did their 'home work'.

She said: "When I heard from my agent that Netflix was to include my picture in the set dressing for Gillian Anderson's Downing Street scenes as Margaret Thatcher, I was really thrilled, and I'm looking forward to seeing the show from November 15.

"I have had some time to get used to the idea, but I am still full of anticipation to see where my picture will pop up in The Crown series 4, as I know it is a very popular show.

"I was amazed that the researchers for the show had gone into such detail to recreate the interior of 10 Downing Street."

It is not the first time one of Frances' paintings has been given a 'second life'.

Her painting of George Formby, who lived in Stockton Heath, was projected onto 30 landmark buildings throughout the UK as part of a BBC project in 2013.

Frances added: "I never cease to be surprised at the variety of places in which my work appears. One of my recent favourites is Fred Olsen Cruise Lines having large prints of several of my paintings on the cabin walls of their ships.

"A similar high point was discovering that Ringo Starr owned one of my original paintings, but that's another story...."