Which came first — our love for Last Tango in Halifax, or our love for Sarah Lancashire? It’s honestly hard for us to figure it out, as we began this series at the same time as Lancashire’s other major project, Happy Valley. While Lancashire is, of course, amazing in both, something about Caroline in Last Tango in Halifax feels more open, more vulnerable than Happy Valley’s Catherine. But it was seeing Lancashire’s range between the two that truly attracted our attention — and of course, made us want to find out more! Here’s what we learned about this talented performer:

1. Lancashire Is Cornie Royalty
Lancashire was born to Hilda and Geoffrey Lancashire — the latter of whom was an accomplished screenwriter that got his start writing for Coronation Street. Twenty years after her father’s stint as a writer for the show, Sarah joined the cast of Cornie as Raquel Watts, neé Wolstenhulme.

2. Off To Guildhall
Though Lancashire didn’t fully engage with acting as a career until she was 18, she did end up attending the prestigious Guildhall School of Music & Drama, whose alumni include Michelle Dockery ofDownton Abbey, Paapa Essiedu of Press, and Naveen Andrews of The English Patient.

3. Local Theatre And Teaching
After graduating, Lancashire didn’t immediately proceed to television or film — her goals were a little closer to home. She auditioned for multiple local troupes before she joined the Manchester Library Theatre Company, and began teaching drama at the University of Salford.

4. Lows…
It was two years into Lancashire’s time on Coronation Street when she began to have some problems in her personal life — a nervous breakdown that lasted over a year. The actress has been very open about this ongoing battle with depression, even making a point to state it influenced her performance in Cry, a series that saw her playing a grief-stricken social worker.

5. … And Highs
Though Lancashire has called her 20’s “a write-off,” things have only gotten better for the actress. In fact, in 2000 she signed a two year contract with ITVS that made her the highest paid actress in UK TV!

Two Women stand close and stare into the camera. Behind them, out of focus, is an English Brownstone.

6. Last Tango
On Last Tango in Halifax, Lancashire plays Caroline, a headmistress who finds her sexuality late in life. In playing the queer character, Sarah felt it vital that Caroline’s sexuality be portrayed accurately, since there are so few gay characters on television. She’s since stated that it has been one of the roles she’s most proud of — and the one that has seen her receive the most fan letters for.

7. Personal Life
Lancashire has had her share of bad romances — after her first marriage, she spent five years single, a period that she says helped her have a personal “renaissance.” In 2001 she married producer Peter Salmon, Between both marriage’s she has three sons –Thomas, Matthew and Joseph.

8. Expanding Horizons
The first job Lancashire tried her hand took on after the birth of her third child was a departure from the norm: directing! Taking on the BBC’s well-known series The Afternoon Play, Lancashire directed Viva Las Blackpool, a film about a divorcee struggling with the many opposing forces in her life. The film netted her the Best Newcomer Award at the Birmingham Screen Festival, and the Best New Talent Award from the Royal Television Society.

9. Officer Lancashire
But her those are far from her most impressive awards. In 2017, Lancashire was appointed an Officer of the British Empire — an honor that was bestowed upon her by Prince William.

10. What’s Next?
So what’s coming up for Sarah Lancashire? Yet another reason for her to be one of our favorites: she’s taking on the French Chef herself, playing Julia Child in a series simply title Julia.