Daily Express


She was recently accused of slurring her words on stage. Now Sheridan Smith has pulled out of her West End show for the third time, much to the alarm of her fans

- By Chris Roycroft-Davis

SHE’S one of the most talented actresses on TV and the West End stage with the world at her feet – but behind the painted smile, Sheridan Smith is suffering a terrible personal meltdown. Since her father was diagnosed with cancer in March, the same disease that killed her brother 26 years ago, her life has been in turmoil. Friends now express serious fears for 34-yearold Sheridan’s health.

Three times she has pulled out of the lead role in the musical Funny Girl – once midway through a performanc­e when the audience became concerned that she appeared to be slurring her words because of drink.

The star denied this and theatre management cited “technical difficulti­es”, a euphemism used as the basis for a joke at Sheridan’s expense by host Graham Norton at the televised Bafta awards on Sunday night.

With the troubled actress sitting in the audience in front of him he said: “Let’s get things started, because the sooner we get started, the sooner we can have a couple of drinks. Or, as they say in theatrical circles, a couple of glasses of technical difficulti­es.”

Many of her fellow stars gasped at the jibe but Sheridan tried to smile bravely.

The final straw was the bitter disappoint­ment of being nominated for two awards that night and, to many people’s surprise, winning neither. Sheridan was caught on camera looking shocked when her BBC play The C Word, about a woman fighting cancer, failed to take the award for Best Single Drama.

Viewers immediatel­y went on Twitter to poke fun at her.

One asked whether Sheridan could “look more ****** -off if she tried” when the BBC3 drama Don’t Take My Baby won the award instead. Shortly afterwards, Sheridan’s disappoint­ment was clearly visible again when the Leading Actress award went to Suranne Jones.

To hide the tears, Sheridan embarked on a wild party night after the ceremony. She was photograph­ed drinking with a string of male celebritie­s, including Night Manager star Tom Hiddleston, rapper Professor Green, Funny Girl co-star Darius Campbell and Musketeers heart-throb Luke Pasqualino.

Next morning, the Savoy Theatre told people who paid up to £100 a ticket for Funny Girl that “due to the indisposit­ion of Sheridan Smith, the role of Fanny Brice would be played by Natasha J Barnes”.

An executive from theatre group ATG, which owns the London venue, has been drafted in to assess Sheridan before each show, sources say.

After the latest cancelled performanc­e Sheridan angrily took to Twitter and hit back at her critics, saying: “Couldn’t give a **** , they’re vultures.” Worryingly she even threatened one person, inviting them to say it to her face and “see what happens”.

Sheridan has suffered a string of broken romances, including a relationsh­ip with Gavin & Stacey co-star James Corden, and her father Colin became her rock in life. The news of his illness in March was a hammer blow and the day he was diagnosed she pulled out of Funny Girl three hours before the curtain went up.

COLIN, a country and western banjo player who formed a duo called The Daltons with Sheridan’s mother Marilyn, had guided his daughter’s career since she was a child in Epworth, near Gainsborou­gh, Lincs.

Her parents encouraged her to study dance and although she never trained at drama school, her talent earned her a place in the National Youth Music Theatre. She made her West End debut in Bugsy Malone.

Sheridan shot to stardom with TV roles in the comedy shows Two Pints Of Lager And A Packet Of Crisps, Love Soup, Grownups and Benidorm. Then she was given starring roles in TV dramas Mrs Biggs, for which she won the Bafta for Best Actress as Great Train Robber Ronnie Biggs’s wife, and Cilla, in which she played Cilla Black to huge critical acclaim.

She also won Laurence Olivier Awards in consecutiv­e years, for Best Actress in a Musical as Elle Woods in Legally Blonde in 2011 and Best Performanc­e in a Supporting Role as Doris in a revival of the play Flare Path in 2012.

She was awarded the OBE last year for services to drama.

But the actress herself now jokes about producers needing to rein her in.

Days before she was accused of being drunk on stage she reportedly said: “I’m naughty, aren’t I? I’m probably going to get told off eventually.”

One tragedy is that Sheridan’s addiction to social media exposes her to constant criticism and ridicule and she can be her own worst enemy. She tweeted one critic: “‘If u just found out ur dad had cancer u wouldn’t be such a heartless human. Take care love.”

She later deleted the message. On Monday, after being teased for having “a loser’s face” at the Baftas, she tweeted: “When will u stop bullying?”

This talented woman deserves sympathy. She may be a star in Funny Girl. But there’s precious little funny in her real life.

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 ??  ?? JIBE: Sheridan puts on a brave face at the Baftas
JIBE: Sheridan puts on a brave face at the Baftas
 ??  ?? CLOSE: Sheridan and dad Colin
CLOSE: Sheridan and dad Colin

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