The C Word told the story of a remarkable young lady who I hadn’t heard about before watching this – Lisa Lynch, who was diagnosed with breast cancer and she found an outlet by recording her thoughts in a blog online.
In this drama, Lisa is portrayed by Sheridan Smith, fast approaching ‘national treasure’ status (if she hasn’t already) with a successful of incredible roles, most recently including The 7.39, opposite David Morrissey, Cilla and my favourite, as the lead in The 12 Days of Christine, from the recent second series of Inside No.9.
Note that I’ll go into detail about many of the key points of the drama in this piece, so if you want to watch it on the iPlayer without knowing anything in advance, go there now.
As we follow Lisa on her journey, we learn she was found to have stage 3 out of four stages of cancer, which leads to the doctors removing her breast such that it involves taking out the insides of the breast (after removing her nipple), while reconstructing with muscle from her back, and it’s successful despite the cancer spreading across her lymph nodes. She also has a goal that she wants to get herself right for her brother Jamie’s wedding.
Being the age of 28, she calls her blog “Alright Tit”, beginning, “On my list of things to do before I’m 30, I hadn’t factored in beating breast cancer“, and is determined to cut through the “bullshit” as she refers to the disease. She also channels her frustration by cracking cancer jokes including saying that she’s “whizzed off my tit” and “Ding! Dong! The cancer’s dead“.
Along the way, washing her hair leads to more of her hair falling out, and she shuns an NHS wig because they’re made out of acrylic and, as she states in disgust, are no better than a dressing up box. She also compares wearing one to looking like a member of Spinal Tap, while remaining bald would leave her looking like Uncle Fester from the Addams Family.
The C Word also shows the pressure that the family is put under, including her husband, Pete (Paul Nicholls), as well as how her blog inspires others, even drawing praise from celebrity tweeter Stephen Fry. Then, as she gets the all clear, has a nipple tattoo and gets back into work, she writes a book about it, and feels like the “Carrie Bradshaw of breast cancer”.
Sadly, two years on, Lisa got the news she’d been dreading – the cancer had returned. And in her bones and her brain, meaning it will be fatal. All she has left is visits to a therapist who tries to teach heer about mindfulness, where you imagine you’re standing in a stream and leaves float down the stream in front of you. If a negative thought comes into your head, you put it on a leaf and it floats off ahead… To that end, she also suggests Lisa reads a book to help with this called “The C-Word“… not realising that it was Lisa who wrote it. That, in itself, had tears rolling down my face while involuntarily laughing at the incredulity of the situation.
Along with fellow bloggers Anya, Kris and Ellie, they helped each other through it all via their blogs, but towards the end of Lisa’s journey, she learned that Anya has died. This leads to a scene where Lisa, Kate and Ellie meet up in Brighton, with Kris Hallenga playing herself, which Kris confirmed on BBC Breakfast (below) didn’t happen in real life, but it was something they wanted to happen and this gives it that chance. I uploaded the video below, but note that I record Breakfast from BBC News at the weekend (since on BBC1, they invariably cut away to a Match of the Day repeat at any random time they fancy) and there’s a portion between 7-7.30am when they broadcast with a signer.
Finally, we learned that Lisa and Pete had four more holidays today before she passed away in Trinity Hospice on March 11th 2013.
And as the end credits played out to Elbow‘s Powder Blue , set against an image of the real Lisa Lynch, not even that could stop the crass interjection from the disgrace that is Red Bee Media, crashing into the atmosphere. Well done, you insufferable bunch. You managed to keep schtum at the end of Sheridan Smith’s episode of Inside No.9, but not for this. How dare you?? Even an advice line can wait 20 seconds until afterwards.
One in three of us will suffer, or know someone who suffers, breast cancer in our lifetime. In fact, this broadcast comes just one day after Rio Ferdinand sadly lost his wife Rebecca to breast cancer just three months after her diagnosis. This drama is certainly a worthy watch for anyone and there’s great support from the whole cast including Haydn Gwynne and Michael Maloney as Lisa’s parents.
Director: Tim Kirkby
Producer: Simon Lewis
Writer: Nicole Taylor (based on the book “The C Word” by Lisa Lynch)
Lisa Lynch: Sheridan Smith
Pete Lynch: Paul Nicholls
Jane McFarlane: Haydn Gwynne
Ian McFarlane: Michael Maloney
Sara: Stephanie Vogt
Jack: Tom Hutch
Pete’s Colleague: Marcus Griffiths
Gaby: Rebekah Staton
Abigail: Susannah Fielding
Sam: Jamie Baughan
Consultant: Silas Carson
Jamie McFarlane: Nate Fallows
Nurse: Chrissie Cotterill
Anaesthetist: Peter Landi
Mary – Chemo Nurse: Orla Fitzgerald
Wig Man: Michael Heath
Wig Shop Girl: Naomi Ryan
Tanning Salon Woman: Candida Gubbins
Leanne McFarlane: Molly Taylor
Hotel Woman: Janette Legge
Hotel Man: Tom Cotcher
Baby Corey: Bexley Green
Therapist: Thusitha Jayasundera
Infant Corey: Theo Yeldham
Kris: Kris Hallenga
Ellie: Amy Strange
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.