Lesley Sharp

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Lesley Sharp
Born (1960-04-03) 3 April 1960 (age 58)
Manchester, England
Occupation Actress
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Nicholas Gleaves (married 1994)[1]
Children 2

Lesley Sharp (born 3 April 1960) is an English stage, film and television actress whose roles on British television include Clocking Off (2000–01), Bob & Rose (2001) and Afterlife (2005–06). 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 Janet Scott in the ITV drama Scott & Bailey.

Early life[edit]

Sharp was born in Manchester, England with the name of Karen Makinson. She was adopted by a couple from Merseyside and raised in Formby.

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 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 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) 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 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]

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. 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
Paranoid Lucy Cannonbury
Tom Daley: Diving for Gold Narrator
Three Girls DC Margaret Oliver BBC One True Story Drama


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 Sharp: 'Adoption gave me this sense I don’t belong’, 23 Feb 2014, The Telegraph
  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]