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Lesley Sharp
Born 1964 (age 45–46)
Liverpool, Merseyside, England, United Kingdom United Kingdom
Occupation Actress
Years active 1986–present
Spouse(s) Nicholas Gleaves

Lesley Sharp (born 1964 in Liverpool, Merseyside) is an English stage, film and television actress particularly well known for her wide variety of British television roles including Clocking Off, Bob and Rose and Afterlife.


Early life

Adopted as the second daughter of mature Scottish parents, Sharp grew up in Formby, Merseyside.[1] Childhood holidays were spent in Edinburgh, where "every fucking summer it rained".[1] Sharp started acting because, as a child, she felt "invisible" and didn't "quite fit in."[1] She has said that her inspiration to act came from watching Dick Emery on television.[2] Her father worked for the Inland Revenue and was not keen on her taking up acting, preferring her to follow in his footsteps by becoming a civil servant.[1] Her adoptive mother died of cancer when Sharp was 15.[2] The adoption was never a secret in the family, but it was only after leaving home that she met her genetic mother — a working-class woman unable to keep her because the father was a married man.[2]

Sharp moved to London at 18 and, after initially failing to get into drama school, worked at the Department of Education and Science at the Victoria & Albert Museum.[1] Responsible for filling in the warders' overtime sheets, her poor numeracy skills resulted in frequent mistakes before she was eventually asked "very nicely, but firmly" to leave.[1]

Sharp attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama from 1982.[3]


Sharp's screen debut was in Alan Clarke's Rita, Sue and Bob Too (1986), playing Bob's wife, Michelle. She soon appeared in another Clarke-directed project, as Valerie in the filmed version of Jim Cartwright's successful stageplay Road (1987). Further film appearances included supporting roles in The Rachel Papers (1989) and Stephen Poliakoff's Close My Eyes, with Clive Owen and Alan Rickman. Sharp was establishing herself as a talented actor and gritty roles in Mike Leigh's Naked (1993) and the Jimmy McGovern-penned Priest (1994) further raised her profile. By the time she was in Prime Suspect 4: The Lost Child (1995) and The Full Monty (1997) she had become a well-known performer in Britain.

Although Sharp has appeared in a variety of films throughout her career, she is probably best known by television audiences. By the late 1990s, she was being offered lead roles in numerous well-written — mostly northern-set — drama series. Common As Muck (1997) was followed by Playing the Field (1998–2002), a drama about a female football team which ran for five series. Sharp had supporting, but important parts in Great Expectations (1999), as Mrs Joe, and in Nature Boy (2000), as Martha Tyler, before landing the pivotal role of Trudy Graham in Paul Abbott's BAFTA-award-winning Clocking Off (2000–03), which lasted four series. Russell T Davies then cast her opposite Alan Davies in Bob and Rose, which resulted in a BAFTA nomination for Sharp. Further film roles in From Hell, starring Johnny Depp, and Cheeky (1993), which was directed by Naked co-star David Thewlis, preceded another television drama written by Russell T Davies. In The Second Coming (2003) Sharp was "the woman who killed God" in the form of Stephen Baxter, as played by Christopher Eccleston.

Sharp again worked with Mike Leigh in Vera Drake (2004) which was followed by one-off television dramas including Planespotting, Born with Two Mothers and Our Hidden Lives, all in 2005. The same year also saw the start of another high-profile role for Sharp. She played the clairvoyant lead role of Alison Mundy opposite Andrew Lincoln's sceptical Robert Bridge in ITV's supernatural drama series Afterlife. Although the subject matter was seen as quite controversial, it was generally received positively by critics and audiences. Sharp's performance was highly praised and she was nominated for several awards. She commented, in a This Morning television interview, that the guest stars — including Natalia Tena, David Threlfall and Mark Benton — for the second series "were amazing".

After a ten-year break from stagework, October 2005 saw Sharp return to the theatre as Emma in Sam Shepard's The God of Hell at the Donmar Warehouse. In what she described as "a black comedy about the poison at the heart of America", she was directed by her friend Kathy Burke — someone she had previously competed with for screen roles. Sharp concentrated on theatrical work for the next few years, until re-appearing on television screens in 2008 in the three-part Lucy Gannon-penned drama The Children. Later in 2008 she worked with Russell T Davies for a third time when she played Sky Silvestry in the Doctor Who episode "Midnight". Davies later tipped Sharp to become the first female to play The Doctor.[4]

Early 2009 saw Sharp playing Petronella Van Daan in the BBC's new version of The Diary of Anne Frank. Next up was a role, playing Paddy Considine's wife, in Channel 4's acclaimed drama series Red Riding. She then joined another impressive cast in the BBC daytime drama series Moving On, for which Jimmy McGovern was the executive producer. Sharp played Sylvie, a woman whose life becomes dominated by fear, in ""Butterfly Effect", the last of five individual stories.

Personal life

Sharp has been married to Bolton-born actor Nicholas Gleaves since 1994.[2] They have two sons and live in London.[1] In an interview relating to Afterlife, Sharp stated that she is "not religious", and thinks "you should live your life as if it's all there is."[1] Despite many considering television drama to be inferior to film, Sharp believes some people "are so fucking snobby about telly and regard it as a poor relation, but I love it. It's fantastic, full of ideas and cleverness. Sharp is currently starring in The Rise and Fall of Little Voice along with Marc Warren and Diana Vickers."[1]

List of credits


Year Title Role Network Notes
1994 Dandelion Dead Constance Martin LWT mini-series
1995 Prime Suspect Anne Sutherland ITV Series 4, "The Lost Child"
1999 Playing the Field Theresa Mullen BBC One Series 2, Episode 2
2000–2001 Clocking Off Trudy Graham BBC One Series 1, 2
2001 Bob and Rose Rose Cooper ITV
2003 The Second Coming Judith Roach ITV two-part drama
2005–2006 Afterlife Alison Mundy ITV
2008 Doctor Who Sky Silvestry BBC One Series 4, Episode 10 "Midnight"
The Children Anne ITV mini-series
2009 The Diary of Anne Frank Petronella Van Daan BBC One
Red Riding Joan Hunter Channel 4 Part 2 "In the Year of Our Lord 1980"
Moving On Sylvie BBC One Series 1, Episode 5 "Butterfly Effect"
2010 Agatha Christie's Poirot Miss Martindale ITV Series 12, "The Clocks"


Year Title Role
1986 Rita, Sue and Bob Too Michelle
1987 Road Valerie
1989 The Rachel Papers Jenny
1993 Naked Louise Clancy
1994 Priest Mrs. Unsworth
1997 The Full Monty Jean
2001 From Hell Catherine Eddowes
2004 Vera Drake Jessie Barnes
2008 Inkheart Mortola


In October 2005 starred in her first theatre role for a decade in the play The God of Hell at the Donmar Warehouse, London.

In 2008 played the lead character in the play Harper Regan at Royal National Theatre.

References and notes

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i McLean, Gareth; "A truly visible woman", 10 September 2005 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  2. ^ a b c d Billen, Andrew; "Lesley Sharp shows she's married to the job in The Children", 30 August 2008 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  3. ^ "Guildhall School of Music and Drama: Alumni" (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)
  4. ^ Wallis, Sara; "Writer Russell T Davies backs Lesley Sharp to be first female Doctor Who", 19 December 2008 (Retrieved: 21 July 2009)

External links

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