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Sheridan Smith on 'No Return' — 'It's every parent's worst nightmare!'

Sheridan Smith as Kathy in No Return, standing outside a Turkish police station in a denim jacket over a floral-patterned black dress, with a look of concern and anxiety on her face
Sheridan Smith as Kathy Powell in 'No Return'. (Image credit: ITV)

Sheridan Smith is portraying 'every parent's worst nightmare' in the new four-part ITV drama No Return, where the Powell family head off for an all-inclusive break at a Turkish resort, only to find themselves caught up in a confusing and unfamiliar legal system after 16-year-old Noah (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) is arrested for sexually assaulting another boy at a party.

Sheridan plays mother-of-two Kathy, who vows to do whatever it takes to secure Noah's freedom, but soon discovers that clearing his name could be an incredibly expensive and drawn-out process, and it could be a very long time before any of them can go home.

Here Sheridan reveals why reading the script — written by Brassic's Danny Brocklehurst — gave her 'jelly-belly', and why she couldn't resist the role of 'lioness' Kathy...

Sheridan Smith on why she wanted to star in 'No Return'

"When I read the script, I was gripped. I didn't stop — usually I have a break between episodes, but I had to know what happened. It instantly gave me that 'jelly-belly' feeling of 'what would you do in that situation?'. They are ordinary people in an extraordinary situation, and Kathy is an amazing lead role — I was honoured to be asked."

Kathy (Sheridan Smith) hugs teenage daughter Jessica (Lily Sutcliffe) while Martin (Michael Jibson) looks on in horror as the police burst into the family's hotel room in the middle of the night to arrest Noah (Louis Ashbourne Serkis). The family are all in their pyjamas, and Noah has been handcuffed by two uniformed police officers while a hotel employee looks on from the doorway.

Kathy (Sheridan Smith) and her family look on in horror as the police arrest 16-year-old Noah (Louis Ashbourne Serkis) in the middle of the night. (Image credit: ITV)

What was it about the role of Kathy in particular that you were drawn to?

"She's a lioness! I've played mums for quite a while now, but not to this extent, in this specific scenario. It's such high-angst, and hopefully the audience will think, what if it happened to them? I've never read anything like this before — from the minute Noah is arrested, it's four hours of intense, high drama. But Kathy is a great character: fiercely loyal, fiercely protective, and just someone I could relate to and really wanted to play."

What can you tell us about Kathy's relationship with her sister Megan, played by Siân Brooke?

"Danny writes so well for women, those scenes just came off the page. I'd worked with Siân before on BBC1 true-life drama] The Moorside, so I knew what it was like to play opposite her, and she's brilliant. Kathy thinks Megan is the favourite of their dad, that she's landed on her feet with the young, successful husband, the big house, the nice car, whereas Kathy and Martin (played by Four Lives star Michael Jibson) married and had their kids quite young, and she feels quite stuck. But what Kathy thinks of Megan's lifestyle is completely wrong, actually — there's so much going on underneath that comes out in the story."

Kathy (Sheridan Smith) leans against a pillar outside the police station while her sister Megan (Siân Brooke) offers her a supportive look

Kathy (Sheridan Smith) and sister Megan (Siân Brooke) have a complicated relationship. (Image credit: ITV)

Although it's a very serious drama, there are lighter moments as well, aren't there?

"I find a lot of the scenes that Danny's written really funny. I don't want to give too much away, but there's a brilliant scene he wrote in a restaurant where Kathy is kicking off and shouting at everyone. I remember filming that scene, and the energy was hilarious — 'more wine, Kathy?'! It's an intense situation and really high drama, but at the same time Danny manages to write lovely humour into it."

The series is set in Turkey, but you actually filmed the location scenes in Spain. What was that like?

"We all went out together as a team. I was in most scenes so I didn't get much downtime — which I didn't mind, because I love being on set — but a lot of the cast were going out to restaurants, and sightseeing, and getting to enjoy the sun a bit! We'd filmed the interiors already in Manchester — I don't want to ruin the magic of TV, but the prison was a set built in the old BHS building in Bolton. We were all doing 'really hot acting', but we were actually freezing!"

Martin (Michael Jibson) puts his arms around wife Kathy (Sheridan Smith) in the police station, both with looks of anxiety on their face as they learn about the charges Noah is facing

Martin (Michael Jibson) and Kathy (Sheridan Smith) anxiously wait for news on their son. (Image credit: ITV)

Did being a mum yourself help you in preparing to play this role?

"I was playing mums before I had Billy [Sheridan's son, born in May 2020], but playing mums now I've had him is totally different. People said to me, 'you can't understand the protectiveness and the fear', the overwhelming feelings when you have a child — Billy's not even two years old and I feel it. Reading the script gave me anxiety, so I hope this will resonate to the audience and they'll be feeling the angst as well. I related to it so much, and I love playing protective mothers like that."

  • No Return begins on Monday, Feb. 7 at 9pm on ITV. All episodes will be available on ITV Hub after the first episode airs.
Steven Perkins
Steven Perkins

Steven Perkins is a Staff Writer for TV & Satellite Week, TV Times, What's On TV and whattowatch.com, who has been writing about TV professionally since 2008. He was previously the TV Editor for Inside Soap before taking up his current role in 2020. He loves everything from gritty dramas to docusoaps about airports and thinks about the Eurovision Song Contest all year round.