Sheridan Smith judging on Starstruck
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OPINION: What’s the enduring appeal of Sheridan Smith with TV audiences?

Sheridan's seriously hot property right now

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Sheridan Smith is the name on everyone’s lips at the moment. She’s certainly on everyone’s eyeballs.

Every time you turn on the telly of late, she’s been there.

Everywhere.

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Sheridan Smith in controversial drama The Teacher (Credit: Channel 5)

This year so far alone – bearing in mind we are just in March – Sheridan has pulled at our heart strings as a grieving mum in the BBC’s gritty Four Lives.

She’s been accused of having it away with a pupil in Channel 5’s The Teacher.

And she’s played an on-the-edge mum whose son has been accused of sexual assault in ITV1’s thriller No Return.

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Everywhere you look, Sheridan Smith is somewhere (Credit: ITV)

And she has also turned her hand to judging on ITV1’s light entertainment show Starstruck.

Sheridan joins Jason Manford, Beverley Knight and Adam Lambert on the series which sees pop tribute acts fight it out for a £50, 000 prize.

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Sheridan Smith is adding being a judge on ITV1’s Starstruck to her list of many talents (Credit: ITV)

If she was any other celeb you may roll your eyes and feel your heart sink if you saw her pop up on your telly yet again.

But with Sheridan it’s different.

Audiences are pleased to see her, perhaps sure in the knowledge that whatever she puts her name to will be worth it – yes, even Pooch Perfect!

Read more: Sheridan Smith’s best TV roles ranked

She’s held her own in some terrifically demanding roles over the years – see Cilla, Mrs Biggs and The Moorside.

Her exceptional skills at thesp-ing have also caught the eye of Her Madge The Queen who, courtesy of Prince William, presented her with an OBE back in 2015 for her sterling acting work.

But just what is her appeal?

Aneurin Barnard and Sheridan Smith in Cilla
Sheridan Smith has brought a bit of gravitas to many a telly drama (Credit: ITV)

Sheridan Smith has ‘the common touch’

And that’s absolutely a compliment, make no mistake.

She’s well on her way to becoming the nation’s sweetheart, reaction to her is reminiscent of the warmth the public feels for Dame Barbara Windsor.

Sure, she can act and sing and present, but so too can many others.

However, unlike many of her acting peers, Sheridan possesses that certain something that compels us to take her into our hearts.

Because she’s real and appears to have remained the same down-to-earth girl she was when stardom first came calling.

In spite of all the plaudits, awards and success she’s enjoyed, she’s never developed a superior edge.

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Sheridan Smith suffered a breakdown following the death of her father (Credit: ITV)

She’s a survivor

Perhaps the true secret to Sheridan’s success is that very relatable contradictory mix of steeliness and sensitivity.

She’s weathered some very public struggles – and not shied away from being honest about them.

While few of us can match her talents, many can relate to her life woes, such as the devastation of losing her brother and father.

And her struggles with mental health. Not to mention her rollercoaster love life.

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Sheridan Smith has been open about her problems over the years (Credit: ITV)

Mental health struggles

Speaking about crippling anxiety sparked during a stage production of Legally Blonde back in 2011, she said: “I felt like a duck. Floating along fine but kicking like mad underneath.

“I know that sounds dramatic now. But the anxiety absolutely spiralled out of control.”

She has also openly discussed her mental health.

“I went to visit various different people,” she told The Guardian in 2018. “I got one diagnosis, from the first doctor I went to, that it was bipolar.

“I was on medication for a year. And then I got a second opinion. This doctor said no, it’s not bipolar, you’ve got generalised anxiety.

“And he put me on anti-anxiety tablets. Which became a nightmare, because I needed more and more and more.”

The Teacher star Sheridan Smith and her dad Colin
Sheridan also lost her dad Colin (Credit: SplashNews.com)

Honesty and transparency

Sheridan also confessed that when she was starring in the west end version of Funny Girl, the news of her father Colin’s terminal cancer devastated her which led her using alcohol to numb the pain.

“I just fell apart, didn’t want to leave him, didn’t want to be away from him. I didn’t know how to handle all those feelings.” she said in the same interview.

“I don’t know whether, with my brother, had been holding things in till then. I just lost my mind for a time there.”

She added: “I was running away from a lot, straight to the bottom of a bottle, trying to get out of my own head.”

Read more: Sheridan Smith’s traumatic Holby City role

Sheridan Smith No Returns ITV
Sheridan Smith has worked tirelessly in dramas like No Returns (Credit: ITV/ Andy Hughes)

She’s a grafter!

All the while, Sheridan has continued to work successfully, taking on and triumphing in role after applauded role.

And the public has loyally stood by her, lapping up whatever she offers.

Why? Well, because she’s one of us. No airs and graces.

Just a hard grafter who made things happen.

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Sheridan split with Jamie Horn, her partner and father of her son Billy, split last summer (Credit: True Vision Productions)

Sheridan’s love struggles 

And as we’ve seen of late, with all her telly appearances, things are happening, even if her personal life has appeared chaotic.

Last summer, she split from Jamie Horn, the father of her 20-month-son Billy and, in January she announced she’d parted ways from her boyfriend of four months, Alex Lawler.

But like the trooper she is, Sheridan’s thrown herself into work. And is busy bossing it as a working mum.

Like millions of other women.

She’ll make mistakes. She’ll come unstuck. And own it. Then pick herself up. The show(s) will go on.

Many other TV stars could take a lesson in authenticity from her.

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