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'Being away from my baby is heart breaking': Doctor Foster star Suranne Jones reveals toll of success

Mirror logo Mirror 16/12/2017 Laura Connor
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Suranne Jones’s career has skyrocketed in the past few years, from Corrie favourite to award-winning acting force. Her ­acclaimed role as Doctor Foster in the nail-biting BBC thriller has made the 39-year-old Mancunian a household name.

But her extraordinary success has come with a significant downside.

The actress has revealed that her immense workload has left her feeling under pressure over the amount of quality time spent with her young son, who she admits can “feel distant”.

She is already wary of the amount of time she will be away from home next year, with two more high-profile roles – a new series from Happy Valley creator Sally Wainwright and a West End stint in psychological drama Frozen.

Suranne says: “I’m in a very, very fortunate position to play the leads in things – in Doctor Foster and in a job that is coming up, I’m in almost every scene.

“So that’s a 14-hour day, and the next job lasts for seven months.

“So even though I get time off now – and that’s amazing, and me and my son are doing lots of Christmas sing-alongs and I am going along to all sorts of playgroups – the seven months and theatre before that will be really hard.

“It’s 14 hours and then rushing in to put baby to bed, or just missing it and then trying to get up at 5am and the baby’s not got up until 6am... so you’re just snatching moments.

“The pressure of trying to be the best in those moments is really hard. What you end up doing is singing and dancing and doing all sorts of stuff, and the child is going, ‘What are you doing?’ They kind of distance themselves.”

Suranne Jones posing for the camera: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty

The star, who has yet to reveal her son’s name, also tells how watching her husband Laurence Akers enjoy a close relationship with their only child can be tough.

She says: “When I am not around to do bed for a week or two, it’s ‘Dadda, Dadda, Dadda’. And it breaks my heart because I am like, ‘Oh, can you come to me? Oh, you don’t want me, that’s fine’. It’s really hard.”

The ex-Coronation Street and Scott & Bailey star gave birth in March 2016, after a whirlwind romance with magazine editor Laurence, 10 years her senior.

But juggling motherhood and lucrative acting roles has taken its toll. While promoting the second series of BBC1’s Doctor Foster this year, she revealed her son battled hand, foot and mouth disease as she was filming, and she even had to take him into work with her.

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But she has also spoken about how “lovely” it is to finally have a family.

Suranne met Laurence in 2014 at pal Sally Wainwright’s wedding and they immediately hit it off.

He proposed just six weeks later and they married in a low-key ceremony at Islington Town Hall, near their home in North London. But it was a rocky road to happiness for the star.

Suranne says she previously had “20 years of bad dates”.

She jokes that one of the first she went on was with a man from her hometown, who took her plane spotting at Manchester Airport before buying paint at Homebase.

She laughs: “This was just the start of the 20 years. That was like, ‘OK, I am settling in for a very good run.’ And they just got worse as I went along.”

Simon Gregson et al. posing for the camera: Credits: Granada Television © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Granada Television

Suranne has always been open about her desire to settle down and her surprise engagement came just a few months after she said: “I’m still single. You don’t want to be single for ever.”

The actress has dated fellow Corrie star Jonathan Wrather and EastEnders’ Marc Bannerman, and was with plumber Lorenzo Giove for three years.

After splitting from him in 2009, she said: “I work a lot, I work away a lot. It’s just me and the dog now.” She still worries about how she is perceived by the public.

Suranne says: “I am 40 next year and my husband says, ‘You wait, you’ll care less, your anxiety will go’. I am yet to get there and I hope it will happen but I care. And it’s such a waste of time.

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“Just mulling things over, getting anxious and over-thinking things, and worrying about whether people like me or if I’ve said the right thing. I am waiting for that to lift but I am nearly 40.”

Although she’s had her fair share of dating dramas, she thinks young women have it even harder today.

Suranne, who was speaking at a Standard Issue In Conversation event alongside Stephanie Beacham and Sarah Millican on Thursday, adds that when she was in the theatre as a young actress, it was fun being in big groups, having a joke with boys.

Suranne Jones posing for the camera: Credits: BBC © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: BBC

“Banter and the fun of being with the opposite sex – I just hope that isn’t lost completely, because we’re so aware of harassment cases and how the opposite sex should be with each other,” she says.

“I fear people don’t know how to communicate, and whether that’s because of social media I don’t know. But I just hope that isn’t lost because I remember the fun of being young and I would probably hate to be 21 now.”

Oldham-raised Suranne attended Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School in Middleton, Greater Manchester, before starting her professional career at the age of 16.

She rose to fame in ITV’s Corrie in 2000 and also did modelling work. Her role as factory girl Karen, who went on to marry Steve McDonald, helped spark her reputation for playing strong northern women.

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In 2011, Suranne swapped the cobbles for cops during her celebrated five-year stint as Rachel Bailey in Scott & Bailey, alongside Lesley Sharp’s Janet Scott.

The show was based on an original idea by Suranne and Corrie co-star Sally Lindsay, brought to fruition by Yorkshire-born Wainwright.

Suranne later won a Bafta for her role as GP Gemma in Doctor Foster opposite Bertie Carvel.

Now, she is reuniting with Wainwright to play gay landowner Anne Lister, who wrote about her illicit sexual encounters in secret code.

Talking about the Yorkshire gentlewoman, Suranne says: “She is brilliant. She’s from Halifax and she wrote these diaries in 1832 and she left close to five million words.

Suranne Jones smiling for the camera: Credits: Getty © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Credits: Getty

“She was a gay woman who sank her own coal pits because she thought, ‘F**k it, all those men want money from me, so I am going to find out how to do it myself.’

“And then she married the lady landowner next door, because they were in love. She wrote a lot of code and all the naughty bits are in code. It’s a beautiful story.”

Despite the guilt that comes with being a working mum, Suranne’s latest role reminds her of the things she loves about her varied job.

She says: “Every time I do a job that’s got research attached to it, I feel like I am wanting to learn. I am in a place at nearly 40 going, ‘I love school’.

“And I hated school. I was creative and at a school that was very academic, and if you saw things in a filmic or visual way they were like, ‘What?’

“So I love that about my job, that I get to really immerse myself in things that would never normally pass me.

“I am very, very fortunate to be in the position I’m in. It’s the balance.”

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