I mean, seriously, wow.
The last couple of weeks have been, well let's say emotional. Reaction to "The C-Word" has been bigger and better than any of us could have imagined. I won't spoil the stats just yet, but I can tell you that the traffic here on the 'tit has been massive, and there's no way to thank you lot for the wonderful comments you've left about our girl.
As for the critical reaction, well I'm inclined to paraphrase Emily Burton at Cambridge News, who suggested that the phrase "Sheridan Smith gave a wonderful performance as Lisa" is now probably set up as an auto-key sentence on journalist's keyboards.
It's been truly overwhelming (even though you'd think we'd be used to Lisa's epic overachieving by now), but for this post I'm going to hand over to Lisa's brother, who's summarised the last couple of weeks way better than I could.
Over to you Arseface.
Ever since "The C-Word" aired on 3rd May, I’ve just had the urge to write something on here; maybe it’s my inner Lisa Lynch trying to get out, who knows, so here it is. So in the words of Jay-Z, “Allow me to reintroduce myself”. By now, you may be more likely to know me as Arseface. That would, of course, make me Lisa Lynch’s brother (AKA James or Jamie). So, yeah, I’m Lisa Lynch’s brother, and a bloody proud one of that!
It just feels right that I should write something in the wake of "The C-Word" hitting our screens. It was such a remarkable evening, 3rd May, and even typing this now, it just doesn’t feel real. 4.2 MILLION people tuned in to see Sheridan Smith absolutely nail her portrayal of my phenomenal Sister. With iPlayer added in there the figure is now 5 MILLION! Let me say that again, 5 MILLION. As in F-I-V-E MILLION! That’s quite a lot I reckon. Sitting in mine and Leanne’s lounge with my Mum, Dad and our beautiful new daughter, Lyla (Corey was zonked in his bed before you think we left him out), we simply didn’t know what to expect from “the outside world”. We just couldn’t get our heads round the fact that it wasn’t just us watching it in our lounge! What we then didn’t expect was the overwhelming public response both to Lisa and the rest of our family.
We obviously thought it was special, and that everyone involved did an AMAZING job. But we never really knew if that was just us being biased because it was about our Lisa. So I guess the first sense we got that it could be a genuinely big deal was when we went along to the Private screening, held for the cast, crew, family and close friends. The atmosphere that night was amazing, and to see so many people beaming with pride over what had been achieved by Lisa firstly, but also the rest of "The C-Word" team, was a phenomenal feeling. I lost count of the number of shoulders I cried on in the immediate aftermath of the viewing that night, although I reckon the wonderful Executive Producer, Sue Hogg, was the first to get some shoulder snuffles as she greeted me at the aisle of the private theatre at The Soho Hotel after the film had finished. The reality was though; there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. The following evening was the press screening, after which we started to get a sense of how well "The C-Word" was going to be received by the press. Absolutely everything we saw was positive. Yet again, we were bloody proud!
Straight after "The C-Word" aired, I received so many messages of admiration and support from people telling me how amazing and inspirational Lisa was/is. I already knew that of course, but I was so proud to see so many other people finally realising the same thing. My Twitter feed went completely ape-shit, and I know I wasn’t the only one. Proud doesn’t do it justice to be honest, I just can’t describe the feeling of seeing literally thousands of messages telling me how amazing my Sister is and how good "The C-Word" was.
That was a proper “holy-shit” moment, a realisation that Lisa’s story was having such a positive impact. I even read one report saying it was the most important piece of television this year… that’s insane! Then people started talking about how it’s getting them thinking more, again, another realisation that "The C-Word" was having the desired impact. This is all on top of the fact that Lisa’s book went to Number 1 in the Amazon Sales Ranking, and Number 3 in The Sunday Times Bestseller list. No big deal I guess! Yeah right! My Sister, Number 1! Guess what, I was a little bit proud of that too!
Going back to the time when the news that "The C-Word" was going to be filmed, and aired, I definitely got a sense from many people that they didn’t know how to approach the subject with us, or me at least. I can’t blame them though; it’s not your most normal of circumstances I guess. I imagine people may have been thinking about the fact that we, as a family, were effectively opening up our lives, and heartbreak for all to see, and the obvious increased interest and exposure that it would bring to the family. That increased interest and exposure was just a by-product of the situation, one that we knew we would just have to manage no matter how uncomfortable it may get (thanks to the work of Sarah Aspinall at the BBC, all was ok on that front), but this has always been for the greater good, for Lisa. And let’s be honest, we’ve had a lot worse things to deal with over the last 7 years!
The reality is though; the notion of following through with "The C-Word" was very simple. Firstly, this had been in the pipeline for 5 years. Secondly, Lisa hated things half finished, and thirdly, by getting her story across, other people may not end up in her situation, but if they did, Lisa’s words might just help them through it.
For me, there was never any doubt that this was the right thing to do. After all, I just wanted the world to see how brilliant my Sister was. But everybody involved put us at ease and were so supportive and sensitive to the situation. Because here we are, a completely ordinary family (I like to think) about to be opened up to the nation by sharing our most devastating of situations. At no point did I feel worried about how this may end up; such was the absolute professionalism of everybody involved. We can’t thank the whole team enough, we really can’t. Pete and I met with Sue Hogg (Executive Producer), Simon Lewis (Producer), Tim Kirkby (Director) and some pretty special bird called Sheridan Smith (no introduction needed) in London about a year ago. It was just an informal chat really, but a lovely one of that. I even said the most twatish thing as the conversation got going, when Sheridan said that she was so pleased to finally meet us. Then there’s me, being all twatish, coming out the completely twatish line uttered to many a famous person… “I’ve never met anyone famous before”. What a nob I am!
Luckily that was as doofus-like as I got as I eased up after that, such was the quality of the company in the room. Here we were, in a room full of genuine big deals, and it was just like sitting down chatting with mates. Then it got even less formal as Sheridan, Pete and me popped out for some lunch and a few drinks. It was at this point that I realised just how perfect Sheridan was for the role of Lisa. As you all know, she didn’t disappoint, far from it. She bloody nailed it! I know Lisa would have loved looking down on us that day, seeing us have such a special afternoon together. Obviously the only way it could have been better would have been to have Lisa with us too.
Following that day, the rest of the cast were auditioning and selected, at which point I had a call from a delightful chap called Nate Fallows. Nate is such a lovely guy, and the similarities between us don’t just end with us both being very slim and really, really good looking! Who am I kidding! But in all seriousness, we share so many similar interests… we both love Golf, American Football, US TV series Friday Night Lights, both got kids born within a month of each other. It was almost as if Lisa was Casting Director for that one too! We’re in touch regularly still and hoping to meet up for a family day soon. I’m also in regular contact with Nicole Taylor, the wonderful, wonderful writer. I can’t wait to get down to that London and have a right good catch up with her too, she’s an absolute diamond. I was so pleased to see she incorporated some of the music from the playlists that Lisa and I used to make for each other. It was yet another personal touch by the team that just added to the accuracy of the portrayal.
Going to see some of the filming process was so surreal too. Thankfully, the sound crew managed to edit out our Corey from the background noise. He was as good as gold until they shouted “Action”, at which point he was saying “Mummy, I want some strawberries”. Lisa would have loved that! We were a bit nervous about going as we didn’t want to get in the way, but I can’t tell you how welcoming everybody was. Yet again it put us even more at ease with the situation. But the most amazing this about going to some of the filming was seeing just how much effort was being put into the production of "The C-Word". We couldn’t get over the amount of people there were involved in making this film. It looked like a proper logistical nightmare, full of lights, trucks, props, extras, cameras, sound equipment, people, lots and lots of people. Every last detail was thought of. Obviously, we had no idea what expect as we knew bugger all about how the whole industry and filming process worked until this day. But it was amazing. To think that all of this was being done just for Lisa, was pretty phenomenal. This was clearly being taken so seriously, but the atmosphere was so positive, it seemed like one big family, an extension of our family if you will, doing all this, just for Lisa! Proud, proud, proud!
So back to more recent times then. The last few weeks have been a massive whirlwind for us, and not just because of "The C-Word" As I mentioned earlier, we have recently had a beautiful baby girl called Lyla Rose Lisa. Of course Lisa’s name had to find its way in there! What you may not know is that Lyla was due to miss "The C-Word" as she wasn’t due until 7th May, but due to some potential complications Leanne was induced two weeks early. Luckily, everything turned out absolutely fine, and Lyla was able to be with us when we watched "The C-Word" Just as with Corey (arriving 12 days early and the day before Lisa was told the Cancer had spread to her brain), Lyla clearly knew that something was happening that she needed to be around for. My joy at Lyla’s arrival was soon rivalled with the obvious kick in the balls feeling that she’ll never get to meet her Auntie. But them’s the breaks I guess. Luckily for us, Lisa has left a pretty special legacy for us to share with the kids when they’re older, and what a MASSIVE comfort that is. They’re gonna be so proud of Auntie Lisa, just like the rest of us are.
It’s a good job I was on paternity leave when I was though, as the lead up to and immediate aftermath of "The C-Word" was pretty manic, as if dealing with a new born baby in the house wasn’t enough! I seemed to kind of assume the role of family spokesperson for "The C-Word" too, mainly due to me having the biggest Twitter gob in the family (still miles behind Lisa on that though), but also given that I did give the only media interview any of us had done. When asked by the lovely Aleena Naylor of BBC Radio Derby if I’d be willing to do an interview, it just felt right. The reason for this was because Aleena also interviewed Lisa on that proud day that "The C-Word" book was originally released, and was a prominent Twitter chum and supporter of Lisa ever since. It kind of felt like we were closing a loop with this interview, like I said, it just felt right.
It was subsequently picked up by the wider press etc. which was weird, but nice. We did have many other requests, TV, Radio and Newspaper etc, but we had tried our best to keep a degree of anonymity during this process, mainly because this was about Lisa, not about us, and we never wanted people to think that we were doing this for any kind of weird attention. Plus, in all honesty, I was personally a little too worried about the camera adding 10lbs, so TV was way out the question. As I said to Aleena, Nate Fallows gives off a much better perception of my visual appearance! As I mentioned earlier, the response from the press after "The C-Word" was aired was quite amazing. The cast and wider team were always going to get that massive credit in the press, because they were all bloody amazing. Then seeing Lisa labelled as an inspiration in pretty much every news source out there… Jesus wept, what a proud feeling!
I’m so grateful too, to all the thousands of people that have been in contact, mainly via Twitter. We’ve been completely overwhelmed by all the messages of love and support for both Lisa and the rest of our family. It really has been quite incredible, but then again Lisa was quite incredible too.
It would be remiss of me to not say a few thank you’s before I sign off. But not wanting to miss anybody out I’m going to have to instead say thank you to absolutely everybody involved in the production and airing of "The C-Word" You should all know who you are and be very proud of yourselves. You all deserve (a shit load of awards…cough…BAFTA…cough) every last bit of credit you receive, yet no amount of credit will ever be enough in my eyes.
This was always going to be an emotional and, I guess, a high pressure project with it being a very true story with a very sad ending, but you so wonderfully captured all the key relationships so well and the complete roller-coaster of emotion that we, as a family, all felt, and still feel in real life. Our family are so grateful for the way this whole process has been handled. Your sensitivity to the situation has been so comforting, and your sheer balls, tenacity and bravery to tackle such a difficulty subject so well should never be forgotten. It certainly won’t be by us at least.
I’ve said before that in order for "The C-Word" to have the desired impact, it had to be true, honest and accurate. And thanks you wonderful lot, it was just that! And because of that, my wonderful Sister’s memory and legacy will last a very, very, very long time.
Ridiculously proud Arseface signing off.