In a few days, Sheridan Smith will be 31 years old. To anyone in their teens, that may seem like old age but the reality is that it is really no age at all. And yet Sheridan Smith does seem to have been around for ever.
We may not have known it at the time but when Ms Smith popped up as Emma, that lazy so-and-so Antony's vegetarian girlfriend in The Royle Family in 1999, we were witnessing the birth of a star. Primed for stardom by the National Youth Music Theatre, it was on television that Sheridan Smith first made her mark. She teamed up with Ralf Little a second time for the hit show Two Pints of Lager and a Packet of Crisps, which ran for eight years, and then popped up as Smithy's sister in Gavin & Stacey. There was much more besides but there was even better to come.
Smith returned to the stage in 2006 in Little Shop of Horrors. The role earned her an Olivier Award nomination but she soon went one better, scooping the first of her two Olivier gongs (to date) for the part of Elle Woods in Legally Blonde (Best Actress). In 2011, and still not 30, Smith was cast as Bridget Jones in the planned musical but subsequently pulled out of the much-delayed project.
But Sheridan Smith is more than simply an opportunist star of populist projects, something she'll prove once more when she takes on the titular role in Hedda Gabler this autumn. The 'female Hamlet', Gabler is a social heroine mired in a web of jealously, expectation, death and betrayal. It is one of the iconic theatrical roles and it would be a shock if Smith's take on Hedda Gabler was anything less than heroic.
Henrik Ibsen's Hedda Gabler, starring Sheridan Smith, plays at the Old Vic from 5th September until 10th November 2012, with previews until 12th September (press night). We have tickets available now, priced from £28 to £50 (£23 - £45 for previews). Sales will be brisk.