Sarah-Jane Abigail Lancashire is an English actress from Oldham, England. She graduated from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in 1986 and began her career in local theatre, whilst teaching drama classes at the Salford University. Lancashire was cast in television programmes including Coronation Street, Where the Heart Is, Clocking Off and Seeing Red and earned widespread recognition. In July 2000, Lancashire signed a two-year golden handcuffs contract with the ITV network which made her the UK's highest paid television actress. Subsequent television roles include the costume dramas Oliver Twist, Lark Rise to Candleford and The Paradise, and the fact based dramas Cherished and Five Daughters. Since the 2010s, Lancashire has earned success and critical acclaim for her roles in the drama series Last Tango in Halifax, Happy Valley and Julia. Lancashire has also appeared in the feature films And When Did You Last See Your Father?