Investigating Witch Trials presenter Suranne Jones collapsed backstage after heartbreaking family stress

Suranne Jones
-Credit: (Image: Isabel Infantes/PA)

Suranne Jones has opened up about the dark period leading up to her shocking backstage collapse, revealing the real reasons behind her breakdown.

The ex-Coronation Street actress was forced to withdraw from the West End production of Frozen in February 2018 after she suddenly fell ill during a performance.

At that time, she attributed her health scare to the play's disturbing storyline about a mother whose child was victimised by a paedophile.

However, Suranne - who was born Sarah - later disclosed that there were deeper issues contributing to her emotional crisis, including the loss of her mother 18 months prior.

Suranne Jones with her mum, Jenny
Suranne struggled with anxiety shortly after losing her mum -Credit:Johan Persson

Her mum, Jenny, had battled breast cancer when Suranne was just 14 and later suffered an aneurysm before being diagnosed with vascular dementia in 2010.

Suranne’s mum passed away in autumn 2016, just a few months after Suranne gave birth to her son.

Rather than taking time to mourn, the actress pushed aside her grief and immersed herself in work. She then started to experience feelings of unease and anxiety. Suranne described how she struggled to communicate effectively and how being on stage only amplified her feelings of panic and worry.

"You've got a 1,000-seater full of people staring at you. And when you feel the anxiety, breathlessness, it's just drilling right into your solar plexus and you think, f**k. This is something I can't stop, not once the show's started," she confessed to The Guardian.

Suranne Jones in Gentleman Jack
One of Suranne's biggest roles was in BBC's Gentleman Jack -Credit:BBC/Lookout Point/Jay Brooks

Despite not wanting to become a "headline", she continued working until one day, during a matinee performance, it all became too much and she collapsed.

"You try and resist what's happening. Keep working. Keep doing the trick of going round as Suranne not Sarah. And in the end something gives. I think that's what happened," she shared.

Although she has since returned to TV work, she's decided against returning to theatre for now.

"Go back to emotionally draining myself in a very dark auditorium? Probably not yet," she concluded.

Suranne Jones performing in Frozen
Suranne hasn't returned to theatre since -Credit:BBC/Lookout Point/Jay Brooks

Now, Suranne is releasing a new series, Investigating Witch Trials, a show which she teamed up with her husband, Laurence Akers to create. Suranne and Laurence have filmed a two-part Channel 4 documentary on the history of witches and how misogynistic tropes are still weaponised against women to this day.

Talking about her new series, Suranne said: “I’ve always loved literature on folklore, fairy tales, witches and vampires. I always wanted to play the witch when I was younger, rather than a princess, and then when I got married, my husband was always saying, ‘Is that another witch book that you’re reading?’

“So, when we started our production company, he wrote a brilliant treatment for me and sent it off and the next thing we knew, it was commissioned.”

Watch Suranne Jones: Investigating Witch Trials on Sunday 23 June, 9pm, Channel 4