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Wednesday, June 29, 2022

BAFTA winner Joanna Scanlan admits to past struggle with alcoholism

BAFTA Award winning actress Joanna Scanlan has said that she has called herself an alcoholic several times.

She was nominated as the winner of the Top Acting Award at the BAFTA Awards ceremony in March, for her performance in the drama After Love, which was chosen as Best Actress.

However, the sparse-born actress, best known for her role as civil servant Terry Coverley on the BBC sitcom The Thick of It, has described alcoholism as playing a “big part” in her younger years.


Joanna Scanlan after winning the Lead Actress Award for After Love (Ian West/PA)

Speaking about the impact of girls being sent to boarding school at the age of six, she told the Telegraph: “It was especially harsh in those days.

“The damage is huge and needs a lot of work to fix it.”

The actress said that she never replied to her mother’s letters and instead “shut down completely”.

Scanlan was expelled at the age of 13 for his “extremely” bad behavior and transfer to boarding schools.

A year later, she recalls “feeling suicidal,” locking herself in the school bathroom, “with an attempt to kill herself in this manner” before taking the pills.

She said: “I don’t know about you, but when I entered my teens, that darkness came into my world in a way that was really bottomless.

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“It was so normal to have to manage really huge, dark emotions.”

She admitted that alcohol had been an important feature of her childhood, remembering a bottle of Clinique toner filled with gin.

She said: “Wine was a big part of our family life.

“I was desperate to be allowed to make choices about my life and smoking was a big part of that, as was smoking.”

Scanlan admitted that when she went to study law at the University of Cambridge, she spent most of her time drinking in her room, which she describes as “the result of trauma from encounters with men”.

Despite throwing herself into her studies and graduating university, she describes drinking at home as “lying hopelessly in bed, not able to do anything”.

At 29, she said she suffered a “massive collapse”.


Joanna Scanlan joins the cast of Gentleman Jack (BBC/PA)

“What I thought was a hangover, or the flu, I went to see my parents, went straight to bed, started crying and it went on day by day.

“A flood of tears. It’s a headache, a sore throat, a feeling of muscle aches.

“My mom took me to the doctor, and they said I had chronic fatigue syndrome,” she said.

Scanlan stopped drinking and smoking 30 years ago but admitted: “I have called myself an alcoholic many times. Yes.

“Some situations I’ve said I’m an alcoholic haven’t happened much to many of my friends and that’s because I was 29 instead of 39.

“If I had continued, it would have been worse.”


Joanna Scanlan, Elaine Cassidy, Alexandra Roach and Will Mellor (Ian West/PA)

Scanlan praised his doctor at the time, who warned him that if he didn’t take back acting, “you would be sick for the rest of your life.”

“It went like an arrow into my heart,” she said.

Scanlan, who married her accountant husband Neil in 2009, said: “I honestly don’t think the purpose of our existence is to be happy.

“But I think it’s to be authentic, and to be part of a community and that means connecting to the deeper elements in oneself.”

World Nation News Desk
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