Lesley Sharp

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Lesley Sharp
Karen Makinson

Manchester, England
Years active1986–present
(m. 1994)

Lesley Sharp is an English stage, film, and television actress whose roles on British television include Clocking Off (2000–2001), Bob & Rose (2001) and Afterlife (2005–2006). She was nominated for the BAFTA Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for the 1997 film The Full Monty. Her other film appearances include Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1986), Naked (1993), Priest (1994), From Hell (2001), and Vera Drake (2004). Between 2011 and 2016, she starred as DC Janet Scott in the ITV drama Scott & Bailey.

Early life[edit]

Sharp was born in Manchester, England to Elsie Makinson and Norman Patient, a married tram driver. She was adopted at six weeks old. Her adoptive father, Jack, was a tax inspector, and she grew up in Merseyside.[1]

Sharp has stated that she started acting because, as a child, she felt "invisible" and did not "quite fit in".[2] She has said that her inspiration to act came from watching Dick Emery on television.[3]

Sharp attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in the class of 1982.[4]


Sharp's screen debut was in Alan Clarke's Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1986), playing Bob's wife, Michelle. She appeared in another Clarke-directed project, as Valerie in the filmed version of Jim Cartwright's successful stageplay Road (1987).[citation needed] Further film appearances included supporting roles in The Rachel Papers (1989) and Stephen Poliakoff's Close My Eyes, with Clive Owen and Alan Rickman. Sharp was establishing herself as a talented actress in social realist roles in Mike Leigh's Naked (1993) and the Jimmy McGovern-penned Priest (1994) further raised her profile. By the time she was in Prime Suspect 4: The Lost Child (1995) and The Full Monty (1997) she had become a well-known performer in Britain.[citation needed]

Although Sharp has appeared in a variety of films throughout her career, she is probably best known by television audiences. By the late 1990s, she was being offered lead roles in numerous well-written drama series. Common As Muck (1997) was followed by Playing the Field (1998–2002), a drama about a female football team which ran for five series. Sharp had supporting parts in Great Expectations (1999), as Mrs Joe, and in Nature Boy (2000), as Martha Tyler, before landing the role of Trudy Graham in Paul Abbott's BAFTA-award-winning Clocking Off (2000–2003), which lasted four series. Russell T. Davies then cast her opposite Alan Davies in Bob & Rose, which resulted in a BAFTA nomination for Sharp.[5] Further film roles in From Hell, starring Johnny Depp, and Cheeky (1993), which was directed by Naked co-star David Thewlis, preceded another television drama written by Russell T. Davies. In The Second Coming (2003) She was "the woman who killed God" in the form of Stephen Baxter, as played by Christopher Eccleston.

Sharp again worked with Mike Leigh in Vera Drake (2004) which was followed by one-off television dramas including Planespotting, Born with Two Mothers and Our Hidden Lives, all in 2005.[citation needed] The same year, she played the clairvoyant lead role of Alison Mundy opposite Andrew Lincoln's sceptical Robert Bridge in ITV's supernatural drama series Afterlife. Although the subject matter was seen as quite controversial, it was generally received positively by critics and audiences.[citation needed] Sharp's performance was highly praised and she was nominated for several awards.[citation needed] She commented, in a This Morning television interview, that the guest stars – including Natalia Tena, David Threlfall and Mark Benton — for the second series "were amazing".[citation needed]

After a ten-year break from stagework, in October 2005 Sharp returned to the theatre as Emma in Sam Shepard's The God of Hell at the Donmar Warehouse. In what she described as "a black comedy about the poison at the heart of America", she was directed by her friend Kathy Burke — someone with whom she had previously competed for screen roles.[2] Lesley Sharp concentrated on theatrical work for the next few years,[citation needed] until re-appearing on television screens in 2008 in the three-part Lucy Gannon-penned drama The Children. Later in 2008, she worked with Russell T. Davies for a third time when she played Sky Silvestry in the Doctor Who episode "Midnight". Davies later tipped Sharp to become the first woman to play the Doctor.[6]

In early 2009 Sharp played Petronella van Daan in the BBC's new version of The Diary of Anne Frank. She subsequently played Paddy Considine's wife in Channel 4's acclaimed drama series Red Riding. Sharp starred in a 2009 revival of The Rise and Fall of Little Voice at the Vaudeville Theatre with Marc Warren and Diana Vickers,[7] which ran from October to the following January. Between 2011 and 2016, Sharp co-starred as Janet Scott in ITV1's crime drama series Scott & Bailey. In May 2012 she starred in the Sky1 comedy series Starlings as Jan Starling.[8]

In 2015, Sharp played the part of Mary, the daughter of Petunia Howe, in the three-part BBC series Capital based on John Lanchester's novel of the same name.[9]

She appeared in several episodes of the Netflix original Fate: The Winx Saga as Rosalind but was replaced in this role with Miranda Richardson after the first season.

In 2021 she took the lead role in Kae Tempest’s Philoctetes at the National Theatre.

Personal life[edit]

Sharp married Nicholas Gleaves in 1994. They have two children.[10]


Year Title Role Notes
1987 Rita, Sue and Bob Too Michelle
1987 The Love Child Bernadette
1989 The Rachel Papers Jenny
1991 Close My Eyes Jessica
1993 Naked Louise
1994 Syrup Miss James Short
1994 Priest Mrs. Unsworth
1997 The Full Monty Jean
2001 From Hell Kate Eddowes
2002 Spyhole Angela Miller Short
2003 Cheeky Kath
2004 Vera Drake Jessica Barnes
2008 Inkheart Mortola
2009 In Passing Fay Travers Short
2012 Peekaboo Emily Short
2015 The Holocaust: A Story of Remembrance Narrator Short
2016 Dusty & Me Lil
2017 All That You Love Will Be Carried Away Alice Short
2018 Spoon Fed Ellie Short
2019 Brighton Doreen
2022 Catherine Called Birdy Morwenna
Year Title Role Notes
1983 Tartuffe, or the Impostor Mariane TV film
1987 ScreenPlay Valerie "Road"
1989 Marion Parkin "Night Voice"
1989 Woman "Wedded"
1991 Josie 1 episode
1991 Performance Dull Gret / Angie "Top Girls"
1992 She-Play "First Night"
1993 Nights Carol
1993–94 Frank Stubbs Promotes Petra Dillon Main (13 episodes)
1994 The All New Alexei Sayle Show Various 2 episodes
1994 Stages Susan "Speaking in Tongues"
1994 Dandelion Dead Constance 'Connie' Martin, née Davies Mini-series
1995 Prime Suspect Anne Sutherland "The Lost Child"
1995 The Peter Principle Susan Harvey "Pilot"
1996 The Moonstone Rosanna Spearman TV film
1997 Common As Muck Christine Stranks Main (6 episodes)
1997 Lloyds Bank Channel 4 Film Challenge Pet Warmley "Nurse Ajax"
1998–2000 Playing the Field Theresa Mullen Main (20 episodes)
1999 Great Expectations Mrs. Joe TV film
1999 Daylight Robbery Carol Murphy Main (4 episodes)
2000 Nature Boy Martha Mini-series
2000–01 Clocking Off Trudy Graham Main (11 episodes)
2001 Bob & Rose Rose Cooper Main (6 episodes)
2003 The Second Coming Judith Roach Mini-series
2003 Carla Helen North TV film
2004 Carrie's War Louisa Evans TV film
2005 Planespotting Lesley Coppin TV film
2005 Born with Two Mothers Laura Mayfield TV film
2005 Days of Darkness Jerri Nielsen TV film
2005–06 Afterlife Alison Mundy Main (14 episodes)
2005 Our Hidden Lives Edie Rutherford TV film
2006 The True Voice of Murder TV film
2006 The True Voice of Prostitution TV film
2008 Doctor Who Sky Silvestry "Midnight"
2008 The Children Anne Mini-series (3 episodes)
2009 The Diary of Anne Frank Petronella van Daan Mini-series (5 episodes)
2009 Red Riding Joan Hunter "1980"
2009 Moving On Sylvie "Butterfly Effect"
2009 Cranford Mrs. Bell Specials
2009 Poirot Miss Martindale "The Clocks"
2010 Whistle and I'll Come to You Hetty TV film
2011 Leah's Story Narrator Documentary
2011 The Shadow Line Julie Bede Mini-series (6 episodes)
2011–16 Scott & Bailey DC Janet Scott Main (33 episodes)
2011 The Walton Sextuplets: Moving On Narrator TV film
2011 Shirley Eliza Bassey TV film
2012 Protecting Our Children Narrator Mini-series (3 episodes)
2012–13 Starlings Jan Main (16 episodes)
2012 Corfu: a Tale of Two Islands Narrator Documentary
2013 Homeboys Eileen TV film
2013 Who Do You Think You Are? Herself 1 episode (S10E4)
2014 Shirley Charlotte Brontë
2015 Capital Mary Mini-series (3 episodes)
2015 Tom Daley: Diving for Gold Narrator Documentary
2016 Paranoid Lucy Cannonbury Main (8 episodes)
2017 Three Girls DC Margaret Oliver Mini-series (3 episodes)
2017–19 Living the Dream Jen Pemberton Main (12 episodes)
2021 Fate: The Winx Saga Rosalind 3 episodes
2021– Before We Die Hannah Laing Main
2021 Help Gaynor TV film
2021 Heaven Made Narrator Documentary
2023 The Full Monty Jean Mini-series


In October 2005, Sharp starred in her first theatre role for a decade in the play The God of Hell at the Donmar Warehouse, London.[2][11]

In 2008, she played the lead character in the play Harper Regan at Royal National Theatre.[12]

In 2014, she played the character Helen in the play A Taste of Honey at Royal National Theatre.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1988 Olivier Awards Best Comedy Performance A Family Affair Nominated
1992 Best Supporting Actress Uncle Vanya Nominated
1998 BAFTA Film Awards Best Supporting Actress The Full Monty Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Cast in a Film Won
2002 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actress Bob and Rose Nominated
Royal Television Society Best Female Actor Nominated
2006 Afterlife Won

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Lesley Sharp: "I didn't want to be classified as a northern actress"". Radio Times. Retrieved 13 January 2023.
  2. ^ a b c McLean, Gareth; "A truly visible woman" The Guardian, 10 September 2005 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  3. ^ Billen, Andrew; "Lesley Sharp shows she's married to the job in The Children" The Times, 30 August 2008 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  4. ^ "Lesley Sharp". Guildhall School. Archived from the original on 21 August 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  5. ^ "Television | Actress in 2002". BAFTA. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  6. ^ Wallis, Sara; "Writer Russell T. Davies backs Lesley Sharp to be first female Doctor Who" Daily Record, 19 December 2008 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  7. ^ Michael Billington "The Rise and Fall of Little Voice – Vaudeville", The Guardian, 21 October 2009
  8. ^ "A quick chat with Lesley Sharp". What's on TV. 10 May 2012. Retrieved 11 May 2012.
  9. ^ "BBC One: Capital". BBC Online. Retrieved 24 November 2015.
  10. ^ Peter Stanford (23 February 2014). "Lesley Sharp: 'Adoption gave me this sense I don't belong". The Telegraph.
  11. ^ Billington, Michael. "The God of Hell". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  12. ^ Billington, Michael. "Harper Regan". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2014.

External links[edit]