Does Sheridan Smith ever put in a bad performance? It’s a question I asked myself while watching her latest series Cilla. Armed with fake teeth and her iconic red tresses, the Bafta-winning actress achieves an uncanny likeness to vibrant young Cil during her early years of fame in the 1960s. The last episode airs on ITV tonight at 9pm, but Cilla’s not the only role that could put Smith in line for her second Bafta come May 2015.
Her next project – The C Word – is yet to fully emerge onto our radar, but Smith has already filmed her part as Lisa Lynch. The magazine editor-turned-blogger and author was first diagnosed with breast cancer back in 2008, suffering a relapse in 2012 and passing away in March 2013.
There’s still no word on when The C Word will make it to our screens – but here are five reasons we can’t wait to see it…
1. Alright Tit
Lisa Lynch’s blog is witty, insightful and laugh-out-loud funny – an achievement given that she wrote it while battling cancer or “The Bulls**t”, as she called it. Five years ago, Lynch had me hooked. I don’t have cancer – I hope I never do – but I pored over Lisa’s account. She proved that humour could still be found in the darkest of moments, and took her strife in her stride with remarkable courage. She told it just as it was and her entires were turned into a book – The C Word – commissioned by the BBC for a TV adaptation before she passed away.
2. Lisa’s choice
She may no longer be with us, but the real Lisa was friendly with Sheridan before she passed away, handpicking the 33-year-old actress to fill her shoes on screen. “Lisa first contacted me via Twitter, and we quickly became friends,” Smith recalls. “She called me SS and I called her LL. Her zest for life was infectious and I was moved and inspired by her courage and bravery.”
Sheridan’s got a pretty stellar track record playing real-life women with whom she’s shared a relationship – her Bafta-winning portrayal of Charmian Biggs, wife of train robber Ronnie, was followed up by her acclaimed turn as Cilla, both of whom she met and chatted with prior to filming. We’re hedging our bets she’ll put in another convincing performance as Lisa.
3. The love story
Smith also has a history of striking up believable on-screen romances, whether it’s with David Morrissey’s sweary businessman in The 7:39, or Aneurin Barnard as Cilla’s long-time love Bobby. The C Word will see her star with Paul Nicholls playing Pete, the man Lisa married just 18 months before her first cancer diagnosis. They may not have had the happy ending they deserved, but her accounts of her life with “P”, as she called him, are a moving read – and I challenge you not to shed a tear at his final post on her blog, paying tribute to “my world, my rock, my best friend, my lover and my wife.”
4. Commitment to the cause.
Not every actress is willing to ditch her tresses for a job – Demi Moore, Natalie Portman, Cate Blanchett and Charlize Theron have all done it, and the results are always met with a degree of awe among critics and viewers. Now Sheridan’s joined their ranks, recently spotted out and about with a pixie cut after shaving her locks to film scenes showing Lisa’s gruelling chemotherapy treatment, telling her Twitter followers it’s the “least” she could do for her friend.
— Sheridan Smith (@Sheridansmith1) September 16, 2014
5. She’s one of us
This is, in Lisa’s words, “the extraordinary story of an ordinary woman”. It could have been you or I who lost the genetic lottery – instead it was her. We all like to think we’d handle cancer like Lisa but I know for a fact my reaction wouldn’t come close. It’s about time her courage was celebrated on screen, even if she’s not here to see it.
The C Word will air on BBC1. If you want to read more from Lisa, visit her blog Alright Tit