Sheridan stars in Great Train Robbery TV drama

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AWARD-WINNING actress Sheridan Smith’s star is on the rise with one of her biggest roles to date.

The South Yorkshire star, famous for roles in The Royle Family and Benidorm, will hit television screens from tomorrow in ITV’s new five-part drama Mrs Biggs.

The series tells the story of Charmian, ex-wife of Great Train Robber Ronald Biggs.

It documents the couple’s struggle to stay together and their idyllic life as parents of young children before money worries changed the course of their lives forever.

The role is the latest in a string of coups for talented Sheridan, of Epworth, Doncaster, who first trod the boards at Doncaster Little Theatre.

Her family still live in the area and her brother Damian sings with Doncaster-based band The Torn.

Earlier this year she scooped a prestigious Olivier Award for her portrayal of newlywed Doris in the Second World War drama Flare Path, and attended the ceremony with mum Marilyn.

Sheridan, aged 31, said she relished the prospect of being the eponymous heroine of the piece in Mrs Biggs and took the part so seriously she became close to the real-life lady, who lives in Australia, during production.

She also had to audition in front of her before landing the part.

She said: “What she went through is so fascinating. I’m surprised it hasn’t been done before. Charmian’s an incredibly strong woman, I’m in awe of her.

“It’s a really grown-up role for me.

“I don’t usually get to play sophisticated women. It’s a part I so wanted.”

The former Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps actress drew on her own experience losing brother Julian to cancer when he was 18 for some of the most emotional scenes, including the death of Charmian’s eldest son Nicky.

She said: “Although I’ve loved all the parts I’ve played, it’s been so nice that they have given me this opportunity.

“She must be so brave - to hear it all played back to you like that must be very surreal. I mean, to lose a child.

“I lost my brother, so I think about how my mum must have felt to lose her first-born.”

The down-to-earth star, who donned a tracksuit to play James Corden’s sister in BBC sitcom Gavin and Stacey, also enjoyed dressing up for the part.

She said: “They had some fab outfits in the 1960s. I’m enjoying getting glammed up a bit. It isn’t like me to be glammed up.”

Now that filming Mrs Biggs has finished, Sheridan is busy working on thriller film The Scapegoat.

n Mrs Biggs begins on ITV1 tomorrow.