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The hardest working woman in showbiz

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Stylist sits down with the perpetually busy Sheridan Smith to talk train robbers, true romance and her ultimate icon, Waynetta Slob .

Spend five minutes in the company of Sheridan Smith and it’s clear she’s not one to take it easy. Reeling off her list of current projects as we sit by London’s Southbank, the Lincolnshire actress is effortlessly chirpy yet seemingly bemused by the turn her career has taken. Currently on our screens as Charmian Biggs, wife of infamous train robber Ronnie, in ITV1’s brilliant Mrs Biggs, the 31-year-old is also starring in the classic Ibsen play Hedda Gabler at London’s Old Vic. Add to that two upcoming films – budget horror Tower Block and romantic comedy Hysteria – and it’s a surprise she hasn’t been put on bed rest for a few months.

Will you ever slow down?

It’s weird. With Mrs Biggs, the cast spent almost every day together for four months. Then it stops, you come home, and it’s just you and the dogs. There’s never any stability in acting. Maybe one day I’ll put the brakes on and settle down with a fella. I’ve just got to find one first [laughs].

You’re best known for comedy. Do you think women have to sacrifice something to be funny?

I’m a huge fan of strong women who’ll have a go at anything – Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Dolly Parton, Marilyn Monroe. But watching Kathy Burke on Harry Enfield And Chums was what made me want to do comedy in the first place. She would do Waynetta Slob and she didn’t care what she looked like. It wasn’t about vanity. That inspired me, because not being your typical beautiful girl, you’ve got to make the most of the roles you are given.

Some scenes in Mrs Biggs are very emotional. How did you approach them?

I was out of my comfort zone. Charmian suffered a huge tragedy and I just couldn’t imagine that. But I so wanted to do those feelings justice. My brother [Julian] died of cancer [in 1990], so I drew on feelings that I probably hadn’t got out of my system. I felt a real responsibility to go to that dark place and they kept the cameras rolling while I kind of had a breakdown.

Charmian ran away with Ronnie when she was a teenager. Can you relate to that all-consuming love?

Charmian had a horrible upbringing so I can totally understand why she latched onto someone like Ronnie. But I come from a really loving family. My mum and dad just renewed their marriage vows after 47 years. If I am with someone, I want it to be forever. It just hasn’t happened for me yet.

Mrs Biggs is on Wednesdays, 9pm, ITV1; Tower Block is released in cinemas nationwide on 21 September

Main photo: camerapress, ITV.com, other photos: Rex Features

Mrs Biggs is on Wednesdays, 9pm, ITV1; Tower Block is released in cinemas nationwide on 21 September

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