On my radar: Lesley Sharp’s cultural highlights

Actor Lesley Sharp was born in Manchester in 1960 and attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Her first screen role was in Rita, Sue and Bob Too in 1987; she has since starred in a number of films, such as The Rachel Papers and Vera Drake. Her TV roles include Bob and Rose, ITV mystery drama Afterlife and Channel 4 thriller Before We Die, which returns on 25 June. She reprises her role as Jean in series The Full Monty, out now on Disney+, which catches up with the original characters from the 1997 movie 25 years on.

1. Book

The Candy House by Jennifer Egan

This is an extraordinary book by Jennifer Egan, who won a Pulitzer for A Visit from the Goon Squad. It’s absolutely brilliant writing, and the ideas are phenomenal. It stretches from the 1960s to 2032, and it’s about where tech is taking us: how we could possibly have chips implanted in our bodies, and have our innermost thoughts and memories uploaded online. So it’s terrifying, but also really funny. It’s dystopian without ever feeling clunky – it’s completely believable and horrific because of that. I couldn’t put it down.

2. Dance

Requiem: Journeys of the Soul at the Grand theatre, Leeds

Two dancers perform in front of the choir on stage
A scene from Requiem by Opera North and Phoenix Dance Theatre. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

I love dance – I go to Sadler’s Wells and the Royal Opera House as much as possible. I really want to see Opera North’s collaboration with Phoenix Dance Theatre and South Africa’s Jazzart Dance Theatre and Cape Town Opera. Choreographer Dane Hurst was inspired by his grief at losing someone during Covid. I love modern dance to classical music, and I think this will be astonishing.

3. Website

London Writers’ Salon

This was set up by Matt Trinetti and Parul Bavishi and really took off during lockdown. It’s a free forum where you sign up, then you get an email at 8am, 1pm and 4pm, and it takes you to an online room with up to 200 people. The idea is that you congregate and write for 50 minutes, and every time you look up there’s a gallery of faces, all writing, all thinking. When I’m not working I’m desperately trying to write a novel, and this is one of the best ways to kick off a creative few hours. It’s wonderful.

4. Music

Christine and the Queens’ Meltdown, Southbank Centre, London

I’m going to see Christine and the Queens perform this month – I think he is a fantastic musician and a real artist. He makes slinky, lyrical electropop and his latest album has been inspired by [Tony Kushner’s play] Angels in America. He takes on all these different personas, such as Redcar, which came about because he was grieving for his mother and kept seeing a red car. What he’s curating this year for Meltdown is brilliant. I’ll be going to this club night there called The Chateau Presents SE_XCELLENCE, where there will be lots of different DJs playing.

5. TV

Below Deck, Channel 4

Captain Lee Rosbach and Kate Chastain of Below Deck fame.
Captain Lee Rosbach and Kate Chastain of Below Deck fame. Photograph: Bravo/Getty Images

I watch this regularly as a sort of decompression moment. Basically, the thrill of it is watching these young, attractive crew members go about their job dealing with these very privileged people who come on board. They have to provide parties for them, the best possible food, and people get trashed. I just watched one episode where a woman got so drunk and fell out with all the people she was on holiday with, then jumped off the boat. My favourite episodes are when Captain Lee is manning the ship. He usually has something pithy to say.

6. Theatre

All of It, Jerwood Theatre Downstairs, Royal Court

Kate O’Flynn in All Of It by Alistair McDowall.
Kate O’Flynn in All Of It by Alistair McDowall. Photograph: Tristram Kenton/The Guardian

Kate O’Flynn, a phenomenal actor I’ve worked with twice, is doing three plays by Alistair McDowell, who’s a great playwright. One is about a woman trapped at home during an air raid, a mother who starts to see double, and a whole life in one breath. It sounds right up my strada. It’s being co-directed by Vicky Featherstone, who is the outgoing artistic director of the Royal Court, and Sam Pritchard. I’m really looking forward to seeing it.

7. TV


This is more or less the most perfect TV show I’ve ever seen: the best made, best written, best acted. It’s fantastic that they finished it when they finished it, and how they finished it. I want to go back to the beginning and watch it again – every time I’ve rewatched an episode I’ve heard another zinger, seen a tiny eye-flick that tells you a whole story. Matthew Macfadyen, who plays Tom Wambsgans, is an utter genius: to make someone that awful, that vulnerable and that funny – it’s amazing.