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Sarah Smart - Biography

The At Home with the Braithwaites and Wallander actress was born in 1977

Sarah Smart smiling at a red carpet event© Getty Images
Hannah Watkin
Content Writer
Updated: July 12, 2023
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Who is Sarah Smart?

Birmingham-born Sarah has been a familiar face on British TV since she was a child, when she appeared in kids’ series Woof!. Parts in popular shows such as A Touch Of Frost, Soldier Soldier and The Bill followed before, in 1998, she won her first lead as Cathy Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights opposite Matthew Macfadyen

Two years later she landed her breakthrough role as Virginia Braithwaite in offbeat family comedy At Home With The Braithwaites. After the programme ended in 2003 she starred in detective drama Murder Prevention and another comedy series Jane Hall. And acting isn't her only claim to fame - she's directly related to the notorious 16th-century Irish pirate Grace O'Malley.

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Sarah Smart’s Childhood

Sarah is one of three siblings of mother Pat Smart, a scriptwriter. She was born in March 1977 and grew up in the Midlands, a place where she confidently calls home like no other. She was sent to speech and drama classes at the age of five to support her shy sister Donna, who she now claims she owes her success to. 

In an interview, Sarah talks of her experience growing up in the Midlands. She revealed “I think growing up in the Midlands also helped with staying down to earth.” Later, she expressed that it allowed her to greatly evolve as an actor, saying “it helps to be a better actor I think, the more grounded you are.”

Young Sarah eventually fell in love with acting and classes which considerably boosted her confidence, which is when she found The Central Junior Television Workshop in Birmingham, her hometown. This is where her career truly kick-started, seeing her landing a role in children’s show Woof! after being cast in a film playing a twin with her sister Donna. 

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Sarah Smart’s Career

Upon landing the role and embarking on her thespian journey, she met Liza Goddard, who introduced her to a very good acting agent in London. Starting to build a name for herself, Sarah moved to London at the age of 19, with the sole intention to find as many casting opportunities in the bustling capital - which she did. 

Sarah appeared in a handful of short films including The Birthday Gift, Give and Step On It Cupid, essential stepping stones that helped build up her career. In 2000, she stepped into the role of Virginia in At Home with the Braithwaites, appearing in over 25 episodes of the acclaimed series. This role set her in good stead to make her a more well-known name, with her acting portfolio going on to collect considerable credits over the following 18 years. 

Working closely with writer Sally Wainwright in the series lead her to being cast in lead roles in dramas Sparkhouse and Jane Hall, which bolted her career even further. When talking about what makes a good script, Sarah says “I think if it’s an instant page turner, then you’re onto a winner really.” 

She later went on to star in Death In Paradise, where she played Suzie Park, a granddaughter of two cheated investors. When working with Ben Miller in the BBC comedy series, she said “I’ve always admired his work so it was a joy to be working with him.” This then led to her landing a role in Wallander, acting alongside Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hiddleston and Richard McCabe in the series spanning four years from 2008-2012. 

SEE: Death in Paradise's most shocking cast changes over the years

Sarah Smart’s Personal Life

Sarah has not appeared in many interviews over the years, and in those she has given, she has not revealed much about her family or personal life. However, while she is a private person, her achievements and successes are public and proud. 

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