TV

Suranne Jones opens up about her 'relentless and terrifying' experiences of bullying

“The bullying took away my confidence," Suranne Jones tells The Big Issue in her Letter To My Younger Self

Suranne Jones - who has opened up about experiences of bullying

Suranne Jones attends the British Academy Television Awards 2022 at The Royal Festival Hall in London. Photo: Fred Duval

Suranne Jones, the versatile actor known for Coronation Street, Doctor Foster, Gentleman Jack and a really good episode of Doctor Who, has opened up about experiences of bullying in a Letter To My Younger Self found in next week’s Big Issue.

Contrary to the formidable characters she often portrays, Jones’s own experiences growing up in Oldham, Greater Manchester were quite different. “I often play characters who don’t back down,” she told interviewer Jane Graham, “But as a teenager, I was still figuring out who I was. That journey wasn’t always easy.”

Discussing her experiences with bullying, Jones didn’t hold back. “The bullying I faced was relentless and terrifying. I constantly felt like I was standing out for all the wrong reasons. It was an ongoing battle between wanting to fit in and wanting to be myself.”

For Jones, there were times when it was difficult to look beyond those experiences when she was in the thick of them. “The bullying took away my confidence. It stopped the teenage Suranne imagining being successful or respected by other people,” she said. “Oddly though, she was ambitious, even when she didn’t have a lot of belief in herself. But if I went back to talk to that girl at school and tell her she was going to do all the things I’ve done, she’d say, ‘Are you kidding me? I’ve just been beaten up getting off the bus.’

“But then that girl went to college and found her people. Very early on I got the role of role of Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls at the Grange Art Centre in Oldham. I was like, ‘Oh my god, I’m not even a soprano’, but they didn’t care. They were just developing and encouraging people. And my confidence started to shine.”

It’s a story many will find relatable. In speaking openly about her past, Jones joins the conversation about bullying, emphasising the need for preventative measures and increased awareness. “Bullying isn’t confined to classrooms,” Jones pointed out, “It’s prevalent in different societal structures and that’s why our approach to tackling it needs to change. We can’t just tell children to ignore it. We need to empower them and cultivate understanding and respect in potential bullies.”

Despite the challenges she faced, Jones has harnessed these experiences, shaping her approach to her career and personal development. “It was a tough time, but it influenced the way I portrayed characters facing adversity. It’s also made me more empathetic and aware of the value of kindness. I wouldn’t wish such experiences on anyone, but they have played a role in the person I’ve become.”

Jones found an impetus to push forward, to challenge herself and redefine her boundaries. “In retrospect, the bullying I experienced provided an impetus for me. It drove me to prove not just to my bullies, but also to myself, that I was capable and deserving of success.”

The full Letter To My Younger Self, set to appear in The Big Issue on Monday 22 May, delves further into Jones’s past, including her mother’s breast cancer and death from Alzheimer’s and her thoughts on becoming a mother herself.

Suranne Jones stars in Maryland, which airs on ITV and ITVX from 22 May

Read the full interview here.

The Big Issue magazine exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work, buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today. Or give a gift subscription. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available from the App Store or Google Play.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
Rebus star Richard Rankin on TV reboots, defying his late dad's advice and getting his arse out
TV

Rebus star Richard Rankin on TV reboots, defying his late dad's advice and getting his arse out

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith on friendship, TV and saying goodbye to Inside No 9
TV

Steve Pemberton and Reece Shearsmith on friendship, TV and saying goodbye to Inside No 9

Doctor Who star Millie Gibson on hope for Ruby Sunday and lessons learned from 'magical' Ncuti Gatwa
TV

Doctor Who star Millie Gibson on hope for Ruby Sunday and lessons learned from 'magical' Ncuti Gatwa

Marge starts a union and fights for workers' rights in powerful new episode of The Simpsons
TV

Marge starts a union and fights for workers' rights in powerful new episode of The Simpsons

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know