Sheridan Smith almost died after Bafta humiliation prompted her to quit anxiety medication

·4-min read
Sheridan Smith opens up about her anxiety and becoming a mother in a new documentary 'Becoming Mum'. (ITV)
Sheridan Smith opens up about her anxiety and becoming a mother in a new documentary Becoming Mum. (ITV)

Sheridan Smith has revealed she almost died after Bafta host Graham Norton made a joke at her expense which sent her “off the deep end”.

The 39-year-old actress opens up about her mental health battles in a new ITV documentary about her experience of pregnancy and becoming a mother – confessing she was addicted to anti-anxiety medication and tried to go cold turkey.

Smith recalled the night of the TV Baftas in 2016 when she was nominated for best actress for The C-Word: “Graham made a joke basically at my expense about me being a drunk.”

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Graham Norton attending the 73rd British Academy Film Awards held at the Royal Albert Hall, London.
Graham Norton hosted the 2016 TV Baftas. (PA)

The Gavin & Stacey star went on: “I was so humiliated. What people didn’t know was that I had become addicted to anti-anxiety tablets. That night I took myself off to a hotel, in my crazy mind I thought I don’t want to be in rehab I will do it myself. So I went there and just stopped my tablets.

“Weirdly, my friend had rang me and she came to the hotel. It’s a miracle that she did now, like someone was looking out for me, because what I didn’t realise is if you stop that medication, stop these tablets abruptly, you seizure.

“To cut a long story short, I seizured five times, I got rushed to A&E and she [the friend] was the one who got me breathing again.”

At the time Sheridan’s West End production of Funny Girl had been cancelled due to “technical difficulties”. There had been reports of Smith slurring her words on stage before the production was halted.

Sheridan Smith opens up about mental breakdown: 'My life was falling apart'
Sheridan Smith at the TV Baftas in 2016. (PA)

Bafta host and chat show star Norton had opened the awards ceremony saying: “Let’s get started because, of course, the sooner we begin, the sooner we can have a couple of drinks . . . or as they say in theatrical circles, a couple of glasses of technical difficulties.”

It was a particularly hard year for the Cilla star as her father Colin had been diagnosed with cancer, of which he died in December 2016.

In the new documentary Smith gave producers exclusive access to her life in the four months leading up to the birth of her son with 31-year-old fiance Jamie Horn.

The couple reveal they met on Tinder in 2018 and Smith admits she never felt maternal until she met Horn.

Baby Billy arrived early by emergency caesarean section in May, during the coronavirus lockdown.

The star of Cleaning Up and Isolation Stories admitted that having experienced depression and anxiety, she feared the mental health issues that can be triggered by motherhood.

The documentary sees Smith discuss her fears with other new and expectant mothers, as well as attending her first therapy session, to explore issues stemming from the death of her sibling when he was 18 and she was eight.

Smith revealed she tried to quit her medication again when she learned she was pregnant, but began suffering panic attacks.

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Sheridan Smith and fiance Jamie Horn are loving family life. (ITV)
Sheridan Smith and fiance Jamie Horn are loving family life. (ITV)

She said: “I’ve still got these underlying issues so I went back on the medication and that was the right thing to do, but I constantly worried it is going to affect the baby, feeling really selfish, guilty, feeling shame and not knowing who to talk to about it.”

Becoming a mother has given Smith reassurance and she is already thinking about having more children.

She said: “This little miracle. I have never felt love like it. He completes me and I want to start it all over again. I never thought that would be me or my life but I can’t wait to get a sibling for him now.”

Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum will air on ITV1 at 9pm on Tuesday, 1 September.

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