Column: We should treasure Sheridan in her time of need

Actress Sheridan Smith
Actress Sheridan Smith
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Imagine one of your parents is battling cancer but you’re not allowed time off work because you’ll be ‘letting people down.’

Add to that you’re in the spotlight. Your every word is monitored. Photographers follow you, waiting to get a picture of the moment you finally weep. Sounds horrible.

This is the life of Sheridan Smith right now. The poor lass can’t breathe without social commentators criticising her every move. And criticise they have, from her recent stage work to TV images capturing the look on her face when she lost out on a BAFTA for her brilliant portrayal of Lisa Lynch in C word. Nope, it seems our Sheridan can’t do anything right.

But why are people trying their best to knock her down? What exactly has she done wrong other than become one of the best actresses this country has ever seen?

She’s simply put her family first, and so she should. Those who seek to abuse her for taking a few weeks out will probably be the same people shedding crocodile tears if something happened to her. Instead, she’s expected to deal with her father’s cancer diagnosis as though it is a blip. Add to this the fact she lost her brother to the same disease when she was eight, and it’s not surprising she needs a break.

But is she allowed privacy to be with her family?

No. Instead, she’s bullied and had her reputation slighted with unsubstantiated allegations that she appeared ‘drunk’ on stage playing Fanny Brice.

If your dad was fighting the biggest battle of his life would you be feeling chipper? I think not. In fact, watching a loved one fight the disease can almost be as equally distressing. It’s unpredictable, and that’s why it can feel so utterly terrifying. You need an inner core of steel to fight it and a certain amount of luck to detect, treat and survive it. It’s akin to having a rug pulled from underneath your feet. Poor Sheridan is trying to deal with this and more. Unlike the rest of us, she is photographed everywhere. She has no private life, not even at a time like this, and it is this that I find most disgusting. Instead of support, she’s been constantly criticised. I love Sheridan Smith. You know every part she plays she gives it 100 percent because it matters. But her dad matters more.

A few years ago, Lisa Lynch, who wrote a book about her battle with breast cancer, asked Sheridan if she’d play her if it was ever made into a film. It was and Sheridan did - and she did it brilliantly. I’m biased because she’s a local lass and we look after our own but Sheridan Smith is an amazing actress.

She’s a rare talent - with a heart of gold - and we should treasure and support her in her time of need.