Star hospitalised after host’s joke
English actress Sheridan Smith has revealed she almost died after being left humiliated when comedian Graham Norton mocked her at an awards ceremony.
The star - who had been suffering from anxiety - was sat among the packed audience at the 2016 BAFTA TV awards.
She was in the running for a gong that evening but ended the night in hospital after collapsing. She was rushed to an emergency room after suffering five seizures that saw her stop breathing.
Now, four years on, she reveals her agony in a new documentary, Sheridan Smith: Becoming Mum.
Fighting back tears, Sheridan, 39, recalls: "Graham Norton was hosting and made a joke, basically at my expense, about me being a drunk.
"I was so humiliated, you know, it's a room full of your peers. And people you want to work with, or have worked with.
"That night for me was like the final straw, before my brain totally went off the deep end."
At the time, Sheridan's West End production of the musical Funny Girl had been halted due to "technical difficulties".
Some fans believed it was down to her drinking after she reportedly slurred lines - unaware she was heartbroken that her father, Colin, had been diagnosed with cancer.
Launching the awards show, chat show host Norton said: "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."
The actress and singer - a BAFTA nominee that night for her work in TV drama The C Word - said that swipe tipped her over the edge. She added: "What people didn't realise was that I'd become addicted to anti-anxiety tablets.
"That night, I took myself off to a hotel on my own.
"In my crazy mind I thought, 'I don't wanna be in rehab - I'll do it myself', so I went there and I just stopped my tablets.
"What I didn't realise is, that if you stop the tablets abruptly, you seizure. And, to cut a long story short, I got seizures five times and got rushed into A&E.
"Weirdly, a friend of mine rang me and she came to the hotel. It's a miracle that she did. It was like someone was looking out for me.
"She's the one who got me breathing again."
In the new documentary, Sheridan talks about her mental health battles and her fear that it could impact on her new life as a first-time mother.
The Gavin & Stacey star gave producers exclusive access to her life in the four months up to the birth of son Billy in May. She and fiance Jamie Horn, 31, had to scrap plans for a natural birth as Billy arrived early, forcing Sheridan to have an emergency caesarean section.
She says: "The biggest worry, certainly if you've had mental health issues in your past, is that it will rear its ugly head again.
"I would hate for the wheels to come off during pregnancy or post pregnancy with postnatal depression or anything like that."
She adds: "I just hope I'm a good mum."
Sheridan is seen reading a letter from a supportive mother who says she cannot stop thinking something will go wrong and that she does not deserve to be a parent.
The star responds: "I feel exactly all those emotions."
She also confesses she is still on medication to combat depression and anxiety, and had a desperate dilemma when she thought it could harm her baby.
Sheridan says: "When I got pregnant, I read online I shouldn't be taking any medication. So I stopped.
"Then I spoke to my doctor and said, 'I'm freaking out' and started having panic attacks again and not being able to get out of the house.
"And he said, 'Well, don't stop the medication. You can't just choose to stop it. You're not there yet'. I've still got the underlying issues. So I went back on the medication and that was the right thing to do.
"But I had constantly worried that it would affect the baby."
The documentary sees Sheridan having therapy for the first time, to explore issues which she believes could stem from her childhood and the death of her sibling when he was 18 and she was eight.
She is seen crying and asks the crew to stop filming as she says: "It was all perfect until my brother Julian got unwell. He was diagnosed with cancer and spent a couple of years on the couch unwell. I'd do little performances for him. He'd encourage me to sing and dance for him and I'd massage his feet.
"I have lots of lovely memories of him. I really looked up to him as he was my big, big brother.
"What I vividly remember, which is kind of annoying now, which I try to black out, was the night that he died and all the screaming.
"I've never really asked my family about it, because I don't want to upset them. You just get on with it. This is why I think therapy might have been a good thing because you don't know what you hold in from your childhood."
Her dad Colin died in December 2016 and Sheridan explains: "I just didn't handle the news well at all. Maybe it was because it was what my brother died of as well.
"It caused a bit of an explosion mentally. It was like a bomb went off in my head."
The meltdown came as she peaked as a West End star, playing Fanny Brice in the musical Funny Girl. Having appeared on TV shows including The Royle Family and Two Pints of Lager and a Packets of Crisps, she was also lauded in the lead role of Elle Woods in London musical Legally Blonde from 2009.
But it was during the hit run that she started to suffer anxiety.
Sheridan said: "I was going to different psychiatrists, getting different diagnoses. I then started self-medicating, drinking a lot and it was like a vicious circle. I could just see my whole life unravelling."
She credits Jamie - who she met through dating app Tinder in 2018 - as being a positive influence.
And Sheridan adds that she would like another child.
But she stresses: "My focus now is on making sure I stay in a good place for the baby."
This story originally appeared on The Sun and is republished here with permission.
Originally published as Star hospitalised after host's joke