tue 01/12/2020

Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum, ITV review - will motherhood be the gateway to a new life? | reviews, news & interviews

Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum, ITV review - will motherhood be the gateway to a new life?

Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum, ITV review - will motherhood be the gateway to a new life?

Raw account of how depression and insecurity derailed a stellar career

Sheridan Smith, her fiancé Jamie and bulldogs Ronnie and Reggie

Apart from her acting abilities, the qualities which made Sheridan Smith a star were her authenticity and lack of pretension.

Apart from her acting abilities, the qualities which made Sheridan Smith a star were her authenticity and lack of pretension. Both shone brightly from ITV's affecting documentary, in which Smith assessed how her success affected her mental health and how she desperately wants the arrival of her new baby to open a fresh chapter in her life.

Perhaps director Tanya Stephan took it for granted that the audience would already know about her longer-than-your-arm list of stage and screen credits (comedy, TV drama, stage musicals and even a bit of Ibsen and Shakespeare), because hardly any of it was mentioned, but Smith somehow exists in a different universe from the stereotypical self-obsessed luvvie. There was a passage here in which she and her fiancé Jamie Horn were making a rare visit to London’s theatreland for the premiere of the musical Pretty Woman. Mostly they just stay at their country home with their dogs and rescue donkeys, Smith explained, and the panic on her face as they arrived at the theatre and saw the crowds packing the pavements was startling to behold (pictured below, Smith with baby Jimmy).

Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum, ITV Happy to acknowledge her roots in a “working-class northern family”, she reminisced about how blithely confident she’d been when she’d started out in acting 20 years ago, but the traumatic death of her father was a severe blow which pitched her into a trough of depression. Drinking and "self-medicating" exacerbated the problem. She’s also haunted by the death of her older brother during her childhood, and there was a moment of pure horror when she recalled “the night that he died and all the screaming”.

Depression and a tendency to expect the worst possible outcome in anything she does have stalked her remorselessly, and she was concerned that the stresses of her pregnancy were likely to tip her back into a psychological black hole. A little too much of the film was taken up with her attending various pre-natal groups and sharing experiences with other mothers-to-be, and an intensely emotional session with a therapist laid bare how fragile her mental state still is.

You could only wish her well, and hope that she’s not relying on motherhood as a panacea for problems she still needs to resolve. At least Jamie (an insurance broker) is not only cheerfully supportive, but a dab hand at assembling the pushchairs, car seats, baby changers and other paraphernalia of new parenthood.

The characteristics which made Sheridan Smith a star were her authenticity and lack of pretension

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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