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Sheridan Smith recalls “unbelievable distress” over “technical difficulties” Baftas joke

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Hollie Richardson
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Sheridan Smith

Comments made about Sheridan Smith’s mental health tipped her “over the edge”. 

Sheridan Smith is a national treasure. Known for being an incredibly talented actor and singer, Smith first came to our attention in BBC sitcoms The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps. She then went on to star in lead roles in hit West End musicals such as Legally Blonde, Funny Girl and Little Shop of Horrors. Oh, and she was awarded an OBE for her services to drama in 2015.

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She has spoken out about suffering “distress” after a joke was made about her on live television. It happened in 2016 when, despite dealing with her father’s cancer diagnosis and an extreme anxiety disorder, she “put on a smile” to attend the Baftas.

It had previously been reported in the press that the actor had been behaving erratically on stage during her Funny Girl performances. She denied rumours that this behaviour was linked to alcohol misuse and her promoters said that “technical difficulties” were to blame instead.

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Smith was clearly going through a tough time and needed support from the people around her.

But Bafta host Graham Norton opened the show making a joke at the Olivier Award-winning actor’s expense. “We’re all excited for a couple of drinks tonight,” he said. “Or, as it’s known in theatrical circles, a few glasses of technical difficulties.”

Sheridan Smith at Bafta 2016
Sherdian Smith at Bafta 2016 where Graham Norton made the mental health comments.

Speaking to Stella magazine over the weekend, Smith revealed exactly how much this dig affected her. “That tipped me over the edge,” she said. “I just lost it. I was in unbelievable distress, trying to keep it all together and then a room full of people in my industry were just laughing at me.”

Referring to the angry tweets she shared afterwards, she added: “Honestly, I don’t remember. Drink. Desperation. Humiliation. I fell over the edge.” She pointed out that a couple of her former co-stars publically supported her – Ricky Tomlinson, David Walliams – but said there was no other support in the industry.

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…

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