Sheridan Smith will play the Virgin Mary in a local nativity after lending her four pet donkeys to the church play

SHERIDAN SMITH has an Olivier, a Bafta and an NTA award up her sleeve — but now she’s lined up her most high-pressure acting job to date.

The TV actress has agreed to take part in her local nativity play, but on one strict condition.

She said she bagged the role because her neighbours keep asking to use her pet donkeys in the festive performance.

She revealed: “My donkeys have actually been asked to be in the local nativity. I’ve said fine as long as I can play Mary.

“I always have being an agent to my donkeys to fall back on, if nothing else works out.”

The Christmas story is being staged near her home in ­Yorkshire, where she lives with fiancé Jamie Horn, their seven-month-old son Billy and their ever-growing brood of animals including her donkeys, two goats and two pigs.

The promise to show off her acting comes as she prepares for her first big hosting gig on the BBC at the helm of Pooch Perfect.

The eight-part series — which starts on January 7 — is a search for the UK’s Top Dog Stylist, in a new reality entertainment series on BBC1.

Chatting ahead of the role, she said: “This is my first prime-time hosting gig. I can’t believe I got asked to be honest!

“But I am a huge dog lover and the time seemed right. I’d just had my son, Billy, so it was an absolute honour to be asked.

“I have six dogs already and I was warned not to bring any more home from filming!”

Being a dog lover myself, I can’t blame her one bit.

Killer pose Jenna

Jenna Coleman and Tahar Rahim strike a pose as they recreate a famous shot featuring real-life serial killer Charles Sobrhaj and his sidekick, Marie-Andrée Leclerc.

The moment features in new BBC1 thriller The Serpent, which starts on New Year’s Day and shows how Sobrhaj ­managed to murder at least a dozen people in the mid- Seventies.

Most of his crimes took place in Thailand, where this shot was taken, as well as India and Nepal where he could easily find his tourist targets.

Leclerc fell passionately in love with Sobrhaj and helped him with many of his scams – the audacity of which made the killer a sick “celebrity” for many years.

That’s despite the fact the psychopath would bludgeon, strangle or burn his ­victims to death.

The eight-parter is definitely a must watch this festive period – but not cosy family viewing.

Fred: Stars let footie go to head

One man who knows a thing or two about representing his country at the highest level is Freddie Flintoff.

The Top Gear host, who captained the England cricket team, says he is baffled by the over-the-top reactions of some stars when it comes to pulling on the strip in a charity match.

Flintoff, who was on Soccer Aid’s winning England team in 2018 alongside Towie’s Mark Wright and The Body Coach Joe Wicks revealed: “It amazes me with Soccer Aid, when I did it once, that everybody thought they got an England cap.

“It is like they are getting a cap in the post and they are going to get a letter off the FA. It is a charity football match lads, calm down.

“I think Mark Wright and Olly Murs still think they have got about ten England caps.

“Someone is going to have to let them down gently.”

Freddie has admitted he was never a good footballer, but motoring pal Paddy McGuinness can hold his own.

He added: “Paddy is all right.

“He is better than some on Soccer Aid.”

Director steps down

RICHARD OSMAN is stepping down as media company Endemol’s creative director after 20 years.

But he took to Twitter yesterday to reassure fans he will keep hosting his BBC shows.

He said: “I’ve worked at Endemol since I was 29 but it’s time to move on.

Will still be doing Pointless/House Of Games and working with brilliant people.”

Watch your teeth with Prue’s pud

If a Great British Bake Off contestant decided to stick shrapnel in a cake Prue Leith was judging, I reckon she’d judge them harshly.

But the culinary queen doesn’t mind doing the same to her own dinner guests when she serves up her Christmas pudding with coins and silver charms inside.

Prue admitted she still follows the age-old tradition, even though many stores banned the practice in case anyone dies after swallowing the metal.

She said: “It’s frowned upon because people might choke.

“But I still do it – I just warn everybody to look for it.

“I shove them in around the edge at the last minute.”

Prue insists that few people actually like Christmas pud, but kids love it precisely because they enjoy the quirk of finding coins inside.

Personally, I prefer mine with a bit of custard.

Denise’s Xmas gift

Denise Van Outen has found a neat way to beat lockdown when it comes to her fella Eddie Boxshall’s Christmas gift.

After filming the festive special of The Great ­British Sewing Bee (BBC1, Boxing Day), she said: “I’ll make Eddie some pyjama bottoms for Christmas.”

No surprise Denise wants her man topless.

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