Review: BBC1’s “The C-Word”

Written by Becky Lancashire.

“Being diagnosed with cancer is like having twenty minutes to revise for an A-Level you’ve never learned.” – The C-Word (BBC1)

Photo: williami5, Flickr

Photo: williami5, Flickr

She prised apart her eyelids slowly. As the morning sunlight shone peacefully, she lifted her face gently from her pillow. It wasn’t long until the tender mood was invaded by the thudding of music and the unmelodious singing of a young, blonde women, splayed out across a swimming pool inflatable. It was from this moment on that I knew we were in for an emotional roller-coaster…

Based on true events, Bafta-winning actress Sheridan Smith portrays the life of her dear friend Lisa Lynch, a women who lost her battle to breast cancer in 2013 at the age of 33.

The script for the BBC1 drama, aired on May 3, was written by Nicole Taylor along with Lisa herself, as she had, for a long time, longed for The C-Word, originally a book, to be “brought to life”.

Lisa Lynch was a magazine editor from the Midlands, who had a husband, a family and a job that she loved

Following her diagnosis at the age of 28, Lisa started up a blog to document the life of a twenty-something determined to come out on the other side of cancer. Her infectious and humorous personality, and overtly honest approach to her condition through her blog outlet entitled ‘Alright Tit’, encouraged other cancer sufferers to contact her, and open up about their experiences. The blogs massive following included actor and comedian Stephen Fry, who labelled it “funny and brilliant”.

The C-Word delicately approaches some of the aspects of the cancer journey endured by Lisa such as chemotherapy, fertility complications, emotional outbursts and hospital treatments.

In preparation for the challenging role, 33-year-old Sheridan Smith met with Lisa’s husband Peter and her brother Jamie, where she was able to learn more about Lisa’s life and persona. She also shaved her head for the part.

But re-living the journey of a person whom Sheridan regarded highly recalled painful childhood memories for her. Shooting scenes showing Lisa being lifted from the bath tub reminded Smith of her brother, Julian, who died from Cancer at the age of 18. Smith has a small tattoo of angel wings and a halo on her wrist in memory of him.

It was apparent through her acting that this was a topic close to Smith’s heart, as the step-by-step journey through the emotional and physical aspects of cancer cannot be described as anything other than perfectly honest. Smith reflected how Lisa’s personality came across in her blog posts: human, loveable and, above all else, fiercely tenacious.

The 90 minute programme concluded by showing Lisa taking a break from treatment in order to spend valuable time in the arms of family and friends, away from the pressures of everyday life. It is here Lisa spends many smile and laughter-filled days and declaring “there’s a lot to celebrate” in life, before she peacefully passed away at Trinity Hospice on March 11th 2013.

And, though Sheridan Smith never got to meet Lisa Lynch in person, her portrayal of her life in such a sensitive and beautiful manor will surely make her, and anyone else who knew Lisa, feel proud to have, in any way, encountered and being a part of the life of such an inspirational, wonderful woman.

 

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