British Icon of the Week: Sarah Lancashire, the Brilliant Actress Who's Become a U.K. TV Institution
Sarah Lancashire takes on a rare film role in Everybody's Talking About Jamie, an uplifting movie musical based on a hit West End show that debuts Friday, September 17 on Amazon Prime. We're getting in the mood by making this brilliant actress – surely one of the most popular on U.K. TV over the last three decades – our British Icon of the Week. Here are just 10 of the things that we really admire about her.
1. She cut her teeth on iconic British soap opera Coronation Street.
Lancashire played ambitious bartender Raquel Watts, one of the show's most fondly remembered characters, for more than 500 episodes between 1991 and 1996. Raquel started out as the archetypal "ditzy blonde" before blossoming into a young woman who really bucked people's expectations of her.
2. She's absolutely devastating in Happy Valley.
Lancashire delivers an acting masterclass in this superb BBC crime drama series. She plays Sergeant Catherine Cawood, a West Yorkshire police officer who becomes obsessed with bringing the man who raped her teenage daughter (James Norton) to justice following his release from prison. Seriously, your nerves will be shredded by the end.
3. She has a terrific sense of humor.
When she won a BAFTA TV Award in 2017 for her performance in Happy Valley, she playfully thanked fellow nominee Claire Foy for giving her "the best 10 hours under a duvet I've ever had." Lancashire was, of course, talking about the time she binge-watched The Crown.
4. She’s an excellent singer.
Check out Lancashire's sensational performance of "Nobody" from the musical Betty Blue Eyes at the Olivier Awards in 2012. It certainly bodes well for Everybody's Talking About Jamie, in which she delivers one of the musical's most emotional numbers, "He's My Boy."
5. She has been honored by Queen Elizabeth II.
When Lancashire received an OBE award in 2017 for services to drama, she said rather poignantly that she wished her father had been alive to see it. "At times like this, really, one tends to focus on parents, and my father would have been the proudest man in the world," she told the BBC after receiving her honor.
6. She doesn't shy away from the most difficult roles.
In the Channel 4/Hulu drama series National Treasure: Kiri, written by Jack Thorne, Lancashire plays a disorganized social worker whose errors of judgment lead to the abduction of a young girl. It's a complex and not entirely sympathetic role in which Lancashire really excels.
7. And she definitely has range, too.
For a slightly lighter side to Lancashire, check out the warm and well observed BBC comedy-drama series Last Tango in Halifax, in which she stars opposite Derek Jacobi, Anne Reid, and Nicola Walker. It was created by Happy Valley’s Sally Wainwright, but has quite a different tone and is rooted in the mutual support and frequent frustrations of family life.
8. She has spoken candidly about her experience of depression.
"It's a cruel illness because you can't see it and you can hide it so well," Lancashire told The Sun in 2016, according to the Evening Standard. "At least, I can. I'm a genius at hiding it. I think a lot of people are. Actors are bloody marvelous at hiding."
"In my early days depression did inhibit me," she added, "because I was too debilitated and terrified to tell anyone why I couldn't get on a train from Manchester for auditions in London." Lancashire also said that she believes her mother "saved her life" by encouraging her to see a doctor about her mental health while she was starring in Coronation Street in the '90s.
9. She's a former Doctor Who guest star.
Lancashire appears in the 2008 episode "Partners in Crime" as Ms. Foster, an entrepreneur who has created a miraculous diet pill with a very dark ulterior motive. It's clear she really relishes playing the baddie.
10. She's about to portray a bona fide American icon: Julia Child.
Lancashire plays the beloved chef in Julia, an upcoming HBO Max series co-starring David Hyde Pierce as Child's loyal husband Paul Cushing Child. There's no confirmed air date yet, but shooting wrapped earlier this year so we shouldn't have too long to wait.
Have we forgotten to mention one of your favorite Sarah Lancashire performances?