Suranne Jones was born in Chadderton, Greater Manchester, in 1978. She attended Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School in Middleton but found her calling when she became a member of the Oldham Theatre Workshop.After early theatre roles, she landed a small, short-lived role in Coronation Street in 1997. Three years and many auditions later she returned to the Street with a major role as Karen McDonald, the long-suffering partner of Steve.
Suranne left the Street in late 2004 and followed it up with acclaimed roles in hit dramas, among them Vincent, Unforgiven, Scott & Bailey, Doctor Foster and Gentleman Jack. During this period, she periodically returned to the theatre, including stints in Top Girls, Beautiful Thing and Orlando. Maryland, the first project from TeamAkers, the production company formed by Jones and husband Laurence Akers, will premiered on ITVX.
In her Letter to My Younger Self, Jones looks back on a career beyond her wildest dreams.
At 16 I had just left school. I was doing a BTEC National Diploma in performing arts at Oldham College, and saving up for driving lessons. That was a big thing, I really wanted a car. I had a filofax and I loved that, it made me feel like my life was go-go-go. I liked going to the local pub when I was on my lunch hour for a pie and to play snooker. And at college I enjoyed being in an atmosphere with all the rest of the drama students who just wanted to make stuff. It was a very creative, buzzy atmosphere. I was already auditioning for things – I had an agent in Halifax. Coronation Street was on my radar; all my family were like, “Coronation Street is the thing to do if you’re a Northern actor.” And of course, I ended up doing it.
I was very frightened about rocking the boat when I was being bullied at school. These days we are taught to call people out, and there’s great support for mental health. But it wasn’t always like that. I was very frightened of causing a stir. I didn’t have the right support and I wish now I’d fought back more – maybe not literally, directly against the bullies, but in calling them out. And I also felt there was a very traditional route that was expected at school, but I didn’t want to follow that. So I just kept my head down until I could get out. Which is kind of sad, now that I think about it. I stopped going into school, I bunked off a lot. I went down to Manchester Arndale shopping centre with my mates Vicki and Anthony – we sat in the bus shelter and had a Blue Riband and a cup of tea. We did that a lot.
My mum had breast cancer when I was 15. My parents were obviously very wrapped up in that while I was going through this very formative time in my life. It was all tied up – nothing’s ever simple, is it? There was a lot going on at home and my mum was still quite young really. The second time my mum had cancer, when I was older, we talked a lot more, I went to her appointments with her, and she would show me her body. When I was in Corrie she came on Lorraine with me, and we did some stuff for breast cancer awareness. She was very quiet my mum, she was quite a timid character, so I thought that was very brave of her. And it gave me the mindset of looking after myself and an understanding that life is very fragile.