Sheridan Smith was ‘in bits’ each day after filming real-life serial killer drama ‘Four Lives’

'Four Lives' features Stephen Merchant as serial killer Stepehn Port and Sheridan Smith as one of his victim's mother Sarah Sak.
'Four Lives' co-stars Stephen Merchant and Sheridan Smith (Image credit: BBC)

Sheridan Smith has revealed she ‘was going home in bits, crying’ every night after filming new BBC One real-life crime drama, Four Lives.

Sheridan, 40, plays Sarah Sak, the mother of Anthony Walgate, one of the victims of the predatory so-called 'Grindr Killer’ Stephen Port, a chef who drugged, raped and killed four young gay men.

She told The Sun: “Every night I was going home in bits, crying – you can’t help but take it home. I have so much respect for [Sarah] and what she must have gone through. 

“I really beat myself up with it because I want to do a good job for them.”

The gruelling, upsetting nature of the drama is echoed by comic star Stephen Merchant, who departs from his usual type of role to play the psychopathic Port.

He recently said: “There’s whole court scenes at the end of the drama in which Port talks about these murders in explicit detail and he’s cross-examined. The more you’re learning those lines, the more you keep reliving what exactly happened, so it is distressing. It’s not like I’m sitting there at night feeling like I am him, but it is swirling around in your head.”

Sheridan sought out Sarah before she took on the role in the drama that focuses on the families’ fight for justice after the Metropolitan Police’s many failings in the investigations, which an inquest jury ruled ‘probably’ contributed to three of the deaths.

Sheridan said she formed a connection with Sarah, adding: “I think it brings something different out in me when I play a real person. I love to get a connection with them. 

“I mean it from my heart that I want to do my best for them, it’s not like I meet them to go ‘Oh, what are your mannerisms’ and then just dump them.

“I’m invested in them, I know their lives and I’ve got so much admiration for them. They’re special jobs.”

Four Lives premieres on BBC One on Monday, Jan 3rd and screens each night until Thursday.

Patrick McLennan

Patrick McLennan is a London-based journalist and documentary maker who has worked as a writer, sub-editor, digital editor and TV producer in the UK and New Zealand. His CV includes spells as a news producer at the BBC and TVNZ, as well as web editor for Time Inc UK. He has produced TV news and entertainment features on personalities as diverse as Nick Cave, Tom Hardy, Clive James, Jodie Marsh and Kevin Bacon and he co-produced and directed The Ponds, which has screened in UK cinemas, BBC Four and is currently available on Netflix. 

An entertainment writer with a diverse taste in TV and film, he lists Seinfeld, The Sopranos, The Chase, The Thick of It and Detectorists among his favourite shows, but steers well clear of most sci-fi.