Lesley Sharp

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Lesley Sharp
Born Manchester, Lancashire, England, UK
Occupation Actress
Years active 1986–present

Lesley Sharp is an English stage, film and television actress, particularly well known for her variety of British television roles including Clocking Off, Bob & Rose and Afterlife.

Early life[edit]

Sharp was born in Manchester, Lancashire, England. She traced her family background on the BBC series Who Do You Think You Are? [1]

Sharp has stated that she started acting because, as a child, she felt "invisible" and didn't "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 and 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 – mostly northern-set – 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 (2000–03), 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) Lesley Sharp was "the woman who killed God" in the form of Stephen Baxter, as played by Christopher Eccleston.

Lesley 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, October 2005 saw Lesley Sharp return 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]

Early 2009 saw Sharp playing 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. She then joined the cast in the BBC daytime drama series Moving On, for which Jimmy McGovern was the executive producer. Sharp played Sylvie, a woman whose life becomes dominated by fear, in ""Butterfly Effect", the last of five individual stories. 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. Since May 2011 Sharp has starred in ITV1's crime drama series Scott & Bailey as Janet Scott. From May 2012 she stars 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]

List of credits[edit]


Year Title Role Network Notes
Dandelion Dead Constance Martin
Prime Suspect Anne Sutherland
Series 4, "The Lost Child"
Playing the Field Theresa Mullen
Series 1–3
Daylight Robbery Carol Murphy
Clocking Off Trudy Graham
Series 1, 2
Bob & Rose Rose Cooper
The Second Coming Judith Roach
two-part drama
afterlife Alison Mundy
Doctor Who Sky Silvestry
Series 4, Episode 10 "Midnight"
The Children Anne
The Diary of Anne Frank Petronella Van Daan
Red Riding Joan Hunter
Channel 4
Part 2 "In the Year of Our Lord 1980"
Moving On Sylvie
Series 1, Episode 5 "Butterfly Effect"
Agatha Christie's Poirot Miss Martindale
Series 12, Episode 4 "The Clocks"
Whistle and I'll Come to You Hetty the nurse
Leah's Story Narrator
Scott & Bailey DC Janet Scott
The Shadow Line Julie Bede
Protecting Our Children Narrator
Corfu — A Tale of Two Islands Narrator
Starlings Jan Starling
Sky 1
Who Do You Think You Are? Self
Series 10, Episode 4
Capital Mary


Year Title Role
1986 Rita, Sue and Bob Too Michelle
1987 Road Valerie
1989 The Rachel Papers Jenny
1991 Close My Eyes Jessica
1993 Naked Louise Clancy
1994 Priest Mrs. Unsworth
1997 The Full Monty Jean
2001 From Hell Catherine Eddowes
2004 Vera Drake Jessie Barnes
2008 Inkheart Mortola


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][10]

In 2008, she played the lead character in the play Harper Regan at Royal National Theatre.[11]

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 Olivier Awards Best Supporting Actress Uncle Vanya Nominated
1998 BAFTA Film Awards Best Supporting Actress The Full Monty Nominated
1998 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Cast in a Film The Full Monty Won
2002 BAFTA TV Awards Best Actress Bob and Rose Nominated
2002 Royal Television Society Best Female Actor Bob and Rose Nominated
2006 Royal Television Society Best Female Actor Afterlife Won

References and notes[edit]

  1. ^ "Lesley Sharpe". Who Do You Think You Are?. Series 10. Episode 4. 14 August 2013. BBC One. Retrieved 17 August 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c McLean, Gareth; "A truly visible woman" Guardian.co.uk, 10 September 2005 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  3. ^ Billen, Andrew; "Lesley Sharp shows she's married to the job in The Children" TimesOnline.co.uk, 30 August 2008 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  4. ^ "Lesley Sharp". Guildhall School. 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" DailyRecord.co.uk, 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. ^ Billington, Michael. "The God of Hell". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 
  11. ^ Billington, Michael. "Harper Regan". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2014. 

External links[edit]