Sheridan Smith on difficult year and ‘abuse’ for pulling out of shows

Sheridan Smith has said she hopes the public will “welcome” her back into the spotlight following a difficult year.

The TV star, singer and stage actress said she received “abuse” for pulling out of a number of shows for West End musical Funny Girl, but that she believes the public largely “understood” her troubles.

As well as health concerns causing Smith to pull out of a number of performances, her father Colin was diagnosed with cancer in March 2016 and died months later, in December.

Smith told ITV’s The Jonathan Ross Show: “It was the worst thing, I hate it and I always think ‘the show must go on’ and I hate letting anyone down but I think the public understood in a way that you can’t choose when these things happen.

Sheridan Smith and her father Colin arrive at the 2011 Laurence Olivier Awards (Yui Mok/PA)

“It was a gradual build-up when my dad got diagnosed and I just couldn’t continue, I lost my mind, I completely did to the point where people were stopping me in the street and cuddling me because people understand that, it’s just life.

“Unfortunately you can’t just take time off from a show, you get a lot of abuse, so that’s what happened.”

She said that she hopes speaking openly about her struggles with mental health will help other people.

Having “always had a bit of anxiety”, Smith said she was already “a little bit nervous, but the catalyst of it all was my dad”.

She added: “Now I’m in a better place, I want to say ‘it’s okay not to be okay’ because I didn’t speak about it and then it snowballed and it came to this huge head.

“You’re scared to ask for help because people think ‘oh what have you got to be worried about?’ and I get it but I just think, if (me speaking out) helps one person.

“I’ve had a lot of messages from young girls. I hope it helps people.”

Smith said she thinks it is her “fault” that stories appeared in the press about her, “because I was giving them stuff to write about”.

Sheridan Smith on the Jonathan Ross Show (ITV)

“But I’ve taken time away, stepped away, managed to be around my family, have some quality time with them and come back with this album and a tour and hope that people welcome me back.”

Smith recently released her debut self-titled album dedicated to her father, who encouraged her to release a record.

The Bafta-winning star said she was approached to create an album after she worked on TV series Cilla, although she admitted she “didn’t have the guts” to do it at the time.

She added: “And so when they came to me after Funny Girl and they asked me again, his voice was in my head and I thought ‘why not, let me do it and dedicate it to him’.”

Smith appears on Ross’ chat show alongside Peter Kay, Iain Stirling and Luke Evans.

The Jonathan Ross Show airs at 9.40pm on Saturday November 18 on ITV.

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