The powerful first images of Sheridan Smith in character as cancer author Lisa Lynch have been released by the BBC in anticipation of the upcoming drama The C Word. In one particularly powerful photo, Sheridan is seen embracing actor Paul Nicholls, who plays her husband Pete. She is almost unrecognisable – bald and without eyebrows – as she tries to console her on-screen spouse.
Sheridan, 33, takes the lead in the 90-minute BBC film, which is based on Lisa's blog and subsequent book about her battle with cancer. Lisa, who was a friend of Sheridan in real life, was diagnosed with breast cancer in her late 20s, shortly after getting married. She had helped write the script with the BBC and was also involved in casting Sheridan in the role. Tragically she passed away before it could be filmed.
Sheridan Smith as Lisa Lynch in The C Word
The actress, who lost her 18-year-old brother Julian to cancer when she was just eight, has spoken openly about the emotional impact of taking on the role, which she says has "changed my life".
"Lisa first contacted me via Twitter, and we quickly became friends. She called me 'SS' and I called her 'LL'," Sheridan has revealed. "Her zest for life was infectious and I was moved and inspired by her courage and bravery. I couldn't help but love her. That's why I want to tell her story. For Pete, for her family and for everyone who's lives are touched by cancer.
"I'm so sad that Lisa won't get to see the finished drama, having been so involved in the development of it. I'm honoured and humbled that she wanted me to play her on screen, and I hope that I will make her proud."
Sheridan Smith has spoken about the emotional impact of taking on the role
Last August, Sheridan spoke about shaving her head for the role, which she described as a "liberating" experience.
"It did upset me a little bit at the time, but it's just hair – it'll grow back," she told the Telegraph. "And The C Word is about such an amazing woman.
"Everyone is affected by cancer, and I lost my eldest brother to it, so, although of course you feel like you've lost a bit of your femininity, I feel it's the least I could do."