Suranne Jones partner

Suranne Jones: Tragic death of both parents, why she quit acting, reason Gentleman Jack was axed, and feeling ‘used’ by Corrie

Suranne is back on our screens, but doing something totally different...

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Suranne Jones definitely has the Midas touch when it comes to TV roles, but she seems to be just as lucky in her love life, too – just ask her long-term partner!

The popular actress returns to our screens this weekend (June 30), albeit doing something completely different. Instead of acting, she’s presenting a new Channel 4 documentary about witches…

In Suranne Jones: Investigating Witch Trials, she goes on an “epic journey”, and you could say that’s been true in real life, too. Here’s everything you need to know about Suranne Jones, her partner, the tragic death of her parents, and why she felt used at Corrie…

Suranne Jones stood in front of a hawthorn tree, Burnley, Lancashire
TV star Suranne Jones investigates witch trials in her new two-part documentary series (Credit: Channel 4)

Suranne Jones: Investigating Witch Trials

Actress Suranne “goes on an epic journey” to learn about the most infamous witch trials in history. In the two-part documentary Suranne Jones: Investigating Witch Trials, she discovers why so many women were accused of witchcraft and what their story means today.

In part one of two, she begins in the Lancashire town of Pendle, where she grew up. It was the site of one of the most notorious mass executions for witchcraft in English history. She also travels to Germany, the epicentre of brutal witch trials that swept through Europe 400 years ago.

She says: “It’s not about witchcraft but about women.” The documentary seeks to expose the misogyny at the heart of the witch hunts.

What is Suranne Jones famous for?

Suranne Jones is a popular TV actress found fame playing Karen McDonald in Coronation Street. She played the mouthy character on the cobbles between 2000 and 2004.

However, she started her TV career in 1997, playing another character in the ITV soap. She popped up as Mandy Phillips in one episode, and obviously made an impression as they asked her back permanently three years later to play Karen.

After leaving the popular ITV soap, she went on to play Beth opposite Ray Winstone in Vincent, Linda Nelson in Strictly Confidential, Dr Martha Elliot in Harley Street, and Ruth Slater in Unforgiven.

She also portrayed PC Laurie Franklin in the hard-hitting Five Days, Sister Joan Livesey in period drama The Crimson Field, and DC Anne Oldman in A Touch of Cloth.

Between 2011 and 2016, she starred in the popular detective drama Scott & Bailey, opposite Lesley Sharp. Another huge role followed in 2015, when she played Gemma Foster in Doctor Foster.

She won the BAFTA TV Award for Best Actress in 2016 for her portrayal of the wronged woman.

In 2019, Suranne began portraying Anne Lister in Gentleman Jack. She also played Amy Silva in Vigil, Claire McGory in Save Me, and Becca in Maryland.

Suranne Jones as Karen McDonald, and Beverley Callard as Liz McDonald in Corrie
Suranne Jones perfected her resting bitch face as Karen McDonald in Corrie (Credit: ITV/Shutterstock)

When was Suranne in Coronation Street?

Suranne’s first stint in Corrie was back in 1997, when she appeared in one episode as a character called Mandy Phillips. She had a one-night stand with womanising mechanic Chris Collins.

Three years later, Suranne returned to the cobbles as Karen Phillips. Karen soon fell for rogueish Steve McDonald. The pair got engaged after Karen had a bet with Janice Battersby, and went through with the wedding because neither of them wanted to back down!

However, their relationship was real, albeit rocky. They also had a fake break-up in order for Karen to have the wedding of her dreams.

Karen and Tracy Barlow – who’d had Steve’s baby, Amy – had a long-running feud that included a brawl at Amy’s christening, and a dramatic rooftop confrontation.

Suranne scooped Best Actress at the British Soap Awards in 2004, shortly before she announced she was leaving the Street.

Will Suranne Jones ever return to Coronation Street?

Sadly for those hoping for a Karen McDonald return, Suranne has ruled out going back to her Corrie days. In fact, she has said she’s rather quit acting altogether than return to the soap.

Speaking to the Mail on Sunday in 2020, the actress said: “I don’t blame a lot of people for taking a break and then going back. It’s a steady job, regular income.

“But I was determined. I felt that if I didn’t make it, I would then go and teach rather than repeat myself back at Corrie.”

She has also hit out at the soap bosses for “using her”. Suranne explained that her time on the cobbles was marred by being pushed to do “dodgy” photoshoots.

She said to the Give Me Strength podcast: “The first few months was about me being whisked off and put in a bikini in Barbados. At this time, I’d only been on one holiday abroad to Spain with my mates. Then I was put in a magazine with a bra and knickers on.

“They’d give you a glass of champagne to get you a little loose. I remember thinking it was fun at first, but I realised it wasn’t what I signed up to.”

She added: “There are some dodgy photos out there. I don’t think Coronation Street was alone in that. I think all of the soaps used their girls in that way.”

Suranne Jones as Gentleman Jack on BBC One
Suranne Jones as Gentleman Jack (Credit: BBC One)

Why was Gentleman Jack axed?

Despite being hugely successful, Gentleman Jack was not renewed for a series 3. And its leading lady Suranne Jones shared an emotional statement following the news.

The series, based on the real diaries of Yorkshire landowner Anne Lister, was axed after two runs. US broadcaster HBO announced that it wouldn’t be working on a third season. However, the BBC said it was having “discussions” about what to do next.

In a heartbroken Instagram post, the actress revealed that being in the show had a “huge impact” and “touched” her heart.

She said: “Good morning. I just wanted to take a moment to reflect on our beautiful journey in making this show. While it is sad news Gentleman Jack will not be renewed, this show has brought so many together enabled people to share their stories, brought joy, emotion, and creativity, and gave me a real connection to you as its audience.”

Furthermore, Suranne continued: “I have never been involved in a show that has made such a huge impact and touched my heart as this one has. It wasn’t always the easiest job I’ve had… But it was always worth it to see the response it got. THANK YOU for all your support.”

Has Suranne Jones quit acting?

In 2022, Suranne Jones revealed she had quit acting and didn’t know when she’d return. She made the admission after suffering a breakdown.

The Vigil actress said she doesn’t know when she would step back in front of the camera after dedicating her time to restoring her mental health.

In 2018, while starring in the West End play Frozen, Suranne began to suffer hallucinations and collapsed on stage. Despite the scary collapse, Suranne went on to film a full series of Gentleman Jack.

It was only at the end of filming that Suranne suffered a breakdown. She subsequently returned to therapy, and began taking medication to help – and then the pandemic hit.

She told The Sunday Times: “The medication is a choice and it’s not for everybody. If you’ve had quite a few knocks, like I had in a row, I needed that help.”

Rose Leslie and Suranne Jones in promo shot for Vigil series 2
Suranne Jones and her on-screen partner Rose Leslie (Credit: World Productions LTD/Nicky Hamilton)

Did Suranne have a breakdown?

In 2018, Suranne pulled out of Bryony Lavery’s play Frozen. This was acting on doctors’ advice not to perform. Adjusting to life as a new mum and losing her own mother to dementia, Suranne began to struggle with her huge workload. While starring in the West End play, Suranne began to suffer hallucinations and collapsed on stage.

Despite the collapse, Suranne went on to film a full series of Gentleman Jack. It was only at the end of filming that Suranne suffered a breakdown.

Four years later, in 2022, the actress revealed she had quit acting for a while to concentrate on her mental health. She returned to therapy, and began taking medication – and then Covid hit.

During the pandemic, Suranne tragically lost her father Chris to Covid. The loss left her devastated, but going back on medication and into therapy helped her cope.

The tough times prompted Suranne to quit acting for a while. She said: “I’ve had a ‘no’ policy from the beginning of the year. I’m not ready to film anything yet, because I’m enjoying the life that I’ve got. […] You are so absent from your life when you are on a big show.”

She added that she was focusing on her family, husband Laurence and their son. She also admitted she’s “been in therapy for 20 years”.

What happened to Suranne Jones’ parents?

Sadly, Suranne lost both her parents within five years of each other.

Talking to The Times, Suranne revealed her own battle with grief, which helped her prepare for the role of Becca in Maryland. Like her character, Suranne took time off school when her mother developed breast cancer. Tragically, in 2016, Suranne’s mum, who had dementia, died.

Four years later, in November 2020, Suranne received a call from her 70-year-old father telling her he had Covid. He spent three months in intensive care and she couldn’t visit him. He died in January 2021, with Suranne and her brother Gary saying goodbye in full PPE.

Talking ahead of the Maryland start date, Suranne said: “Obviously I lost my father during Covid. The weight of [that] has really kind of lasted.”

Talking about any possible similarities between Becca and herself, Suranne said: “I’ve experienced a lot of death. I’ve experienced a lot of sickness. My mum had Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, she had an aneurysm.”

Talking to press including ED!, Suranne Jones elaborated on the theme. She said: “I know grief. I’ve lost both my parents. I know sickness and I know care. It’s not an easy ride.”

Becca and Rosaline frown in Maryland
Maryland starred Suranne Jones and Eve Best as grieving sisters (Credit: ITV)

Vigil star Suranne Jones on perimenopause symptoms

Actress Suranne Jones – known for her performances in Scott & Bailey, Save Me, and Vincent – has admitted that she was “knackered” every day after filming Vigil in 2023.

In an interview with the Guardian, the journalist asked if she took her work home with her after filming. She replied: “With Vigil it was fine because I was so knackered. And I’m a woman during perimenopause, so I’m just wiped out by this.”

She added: “We were also in Morocco, and it was boiling hot and there were other things to think about.”

Talking about how she combats the symptoms of the perimenopause, she added: “I’m big on wellness, because of the long hours and the fact that you’re doing stuff that is repeated bodily trauma, and sometimes your body doesn’t know the difference. So wellbeing on set is a big thing of mine that I want to keep pushing forward.”

She went on to explain that she has improved her work-life balance, by never working when her seven-year-old son is off school. Suranne said: “So I think I’ve really found the balance. But that took a long time. A lot of mistakes, and a very public breakdown to get to this point where it works.”

Does Suranne Jones have a partner? Is she married?

Suranne Jones married Laurence Akers, who is 10 years older than her, in 2014 in a private ceremony at Islington Town Hall.

The pair now live in Muswell Hill with their son. They met in 2013 at the wedding of Suranne’s close friend Sally Lindsay, her former Corrie co-star.

In an interview with Vogue, Suranne Jones revealed that her legal name was now Sarah Anne Akers.

Laurence Akers is a writer and producer. He started his writing career at the age of 19, working on the teenage title, Just Seventeen. After three years on magazines, Akers moved into TV, booking music bands for the Sunday morning show Disney Club and the live Saturday morning show, What’s Up Doc?

In 2016, he turned his attention to screenwriting and producing full time. He wrote and directed his first short film, the award-winning Gone, in 2017.

Laurence is currently developing numerous projects for TeamAkers Productions, including The Jane Couch Story. He’s also writing a psychological comedy/drama based on D.C. Thompson characters with Emanata studios.

Suranne and Laurence have set up their own production company TeamAkers Productions LTD which made Maryland.

Suranne Jones and her husband Laurence Akers at the BAFTAs
Suranne Jones and her partner Laurence Akers at the 2016 BAFTAs (Credit: Jonathan Brady/PA Images/

How many children does Suranne Jones have with her partner?

Actress Suranne and Laurence have one son, who they welcomed in March 2016.

She has never publicly shared the name of her son, who is now eight-years-old.

Suranne and Laurence are also parents to two cute pooches. The sausage dogs often feature on her official Insta page!

Suranne Jones partner: Actress on cruel weight jibes

Suranne Jones has previously opened up about the bullying she suffered over her appearance and her weight. Sadly, she once faced serious bullying as a teenager.

The Gentleman Jack star admits the bullying had a big impact on her. When she was a teenager, Suranne faced cruel jibes after putting on weight in high school.

She recalled the time during an interview with The Sun in 2017, saying that it sparked her to try and make herself throw up. Suranne said: “Even though I had a strong personality, it didn’t come out when they were calling me a [bleep] and pushing me down the corridor. My confidence dived.”

After putting her fingers down her throat once, she realised she couldn’t do it again and instead ignored the bullies. She said, defiantly: “Those schoolgirls didn’t realise it, but they did me a favour. If I hadn’t been through that ordeal, I don’t think I’d be what I am today.”

Suranne faced more remarks about her weight at the start of her career, with one agent labelling her “a bit fat and a bit ­nothing”. She revealed: “I was devastated.”

Suranne Jones partner: What is her real name?

Suranne Jones is not her real name. She was actually born Sarah Anne Jones, but chose to change her name because the name Sarah Anne were already in use with the actors’ union.

Her dad suggested she took her great-grandmother’s name, Suranne.

However, her friends still call her Sarah.

How old is she? Where is she from?

Suranne Jones was born Sarah Ann Jones on August 27, 1978 in Chadderton, Greater Manchester.

She is currently 45 years old, that’s almost 10 years younger than her partner Laurence.

Suranne grew up in a house on Foxdenton Lane, surrounded by two farms and their fields. She once commented that one of her earliest memories is of “cows looking in the window as we ate our tea”.

The star-to-be was raised catholic and educated at Cardinal Langley Roman Catholic High School in Middleton. She later became a member of the Oldham Theatre Workshop, and completed a BTEC National Diploma in Performing Arts.

Read more: Suranne Jones to play UK prime minister in The Choice, a new political thriller from Netflix

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Suranne Jones: Investigating Witch Trials airs on Sunday June 30, 2024 at 9pm on Channel 4.

What’s your favourite Suranne Jones drama? Leave us a comment on our Facebook page @EntertainmentDailyFix.

Helen Fear
TV Editor