The C-Word - review: Sheridan Smith shines in a warm, honest adaptation of Lisa Lynch's book about living with cancer

It's weepy, of course, but there is Derby-girl gallows humour throughout

Ellen E. Jones
Monday 04 May 2015 09:10
Sheridan Smith and Paul Nicholls in BBC1's 'The C-Word'
Sheridan Smith and Paul Nicholls in BBC1's 'The C-Word'

Who else but the hugely likeable Sheridan Smith to play the hugely likeable “cancer bitch, but not cancer’s bitch” Lisa Lynch, in this BBC1 adaptation of Lynch’s book The C-Word? Lynch was first diagnosed with breast cancer in 2008, when she was just 28, newly married and a respected magazine editor.

There is no meaning to this piece of tremendous bad luck and, to her credit, Lynch didn’t waste much time trying to find one. Instead, she nicknamed cancer “the Bullshit” and focused her energies on family, friends and a funny, candid blog that became a solace for thousands of strangers around the world in a similar predicament.

There’s quite a lot more bullshit surrounding attitudes to “the Bullshit” in our culture, which The C Word might have lampooned in more detail. This was hinted at in one scene where Lisa’s friend bemoans the irritating habit some other health bloggers have of insisting cancer is “a gift”. Still, it seemed true to Lynch’s no-nonsense approach that this one-off chose to focus instead on the personal and, where possible, the positive.

It detailed the bleak doctor’s office conversations, the chemo-induced hair loss, the brief shining light of hope during her time in remission and throughout it all, the Derby-girl gallows humour. The C-Word was a weepy, of course, but not just a weepy. It was also a very warm, honest account of a woman enduring, and sometimes transcending, a terrible and still too common fate.

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