Lesley Sharp

Lesley Sharp 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 DC Janet Scott in the ITV drama Scott & Bailey.

Lesley Sharp
Manchester, England
Years active1986–present
Spouse(s)Nicholas Gleaves
(m. 1994)[1]

Early life

Sharp was born in Manchester, England

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). 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.

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. 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. Sharp's performance was highly praised and she was nominated for several awards. 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".

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, 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


Year Title Role Network Notes
1994 Dandelion DeadConstance Martin
1995 Prime SuspectAnne Sutherland
Series 4, "The Lost Child"
1999–2001 Playing the FieldTheresa Mullen
Series 1–3
1999 Daylight RobberyCarol Murphy
2000–2001 Clocking OffTrudy Graham
Series 1, 2
2001 Bob & RoseRose Cooper
2003 The Second ComingJudith Roach
two-part drama
2005–2006 afterlifeAlison Mundy
2008 Doctor WhoSky Silvestry
Series 4, Episode 10 "Midnight"
The ChildrenAnne
2009 The Diary of Anne FrankPetronella Van Daan
Red RidingJoan Hunter
Channel 4
Part 2 "In the Year of Our Lord 1980"
Moving OnSylvie
Series 1, Episode 5 "Butterfly Effect"
2009 Return to CranfordMrs. Bell
2010 Agatha Christie's PoirotMiss Martindale
Series 12, Episode 4 "The Clocks"
2010 Whistle and I'll Come to YouHetty the nurse
2011 Leah's StoryNarrator
2011–2016 Scott & BaileyDC Janet Scott
2011 The Shadow LineJulie Bede
2012 Protecting Our ChildrenNarrator
2012 Corfu — A Tale of Two IslandsNarrator
2012–2013 StarlingsJan Starling
Sky 1
2013 Who Do You Think You Are?Self
Series 10, Episode 4
ParanoidLucy Cannonbury
Tom Daley: Diving for GoldNarrator
Three Girls DC Margaret Oliver BBC One True Story Drama
Living the DreamJen Pemberton


Year Title Role
1986 Rita, Sue and Bob TooMichelle
1987 RoadValerie
1989 The Rachel PapersJenny
1991 Close My EyesJessica
1993 NakedLouise Clancy
1994 PriestMrs. Unsworth
1997 The Full MontyJean
2001 From HellCatherine Eddowes
2004 Vera DrakeJessie Barnes
2008 InkheartMortola


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

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

  1. Peter Stanford (23 February 2014). "Lesley Sharp: 'Adoption gave me this sense I don't belong". The Telegraph.
  2. 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" 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" 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. Billington, Michael. "The God of Hell". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2014.
  11. Billington, Michael. "Harper Regan". The Guardian. Retrieved 8 November 2014.

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