My Life: Sheree Murphy

The glamorous brunette, who’s best-known for playing loveable Tricia Dingle in the ITV soap Emmerdale for six years until 2004, has an apparently enviable lifestyle with four children, a large house and a handsome international and former Leeds United footballer husband, Harry Kewell.

Sheree Murphy

Easy to assume, then, that life is all plain sailing for Sheree, 38 – until she reveals the last two years have been an emotional roller-coaster.

She is effectively a single parent while her husband has been playing out a year-long stint for a team in Australia, and her mother, Heather, is battling cancer.

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“It’s been a very hard time and often I do feel very lonely without Harry,” she says.

“I took the decision to stay here, with the kids, so I could be near Mum and support her through her treatment.

“Although that means for the time being Harry and I are apart, I’m so lucky that he totally understands nothing’s more important than family.”

News of her mother’s rare form of cancer, lymphoblastic lymphoma, came as a hammer blow to her clearly devoted daughter. She was told of the diagnosis in 2011 just after she and the family had relocated to Australia so that her husband could play for a Melbourne team.

“It was such a shock. We’d been in Australia less than two months and were really enjoying starting a new adventure in a new country. Then suddenly all I could think about was getting home to Mum,” she says.

“She was in intensive care and very poorly at that point. It was frightening and horrible being so far away from her. As I was seven months pregnant with Dolly, I had to wait until I’d given birth and then we came straight back.”

Kewell stopped playing for 12 months so that he could look after their children, while his wife travelled backwards and forwards to London to support her mother through gruelling chemotherapy treatment.

“She’s the best mum in the world. She was brought up in a children’s home and her dream was to have a big family, which she fulfilled. She’s devoted herself to myself and my four brothers when we were kids and now it’s our turn to look after her,” says Murphy.

Kewell, 35, only returned to Australia, where he was born, a year ago to continue his career. “Harry was my rock throughout that first year of Mum’s treatment and didn’t hesitate when I said I needed to go back to the UK.

“But to give up doing what he loves best – playing football – for that length of time must have been really hard for him, although he’s so lovely he would never admit that it was.”

The couple met in 1998 when Kewell was playing for Leeds United and Sheree had just won the part in Emmerdale. They married in Las Vegas in 2003.

It’s a partnership that is also being tested by distance for a second time – Kewell played for Galatasaray in Turkey from 2008-2011.

But, relentlessly positive and bubbly, Murphy asserts that the absences helps keep their relationship “fresh and romantic”, and that the family keeps in touch by Skype and with visits in school holidays.

“He misses me and the kids just as much as we miss him – he’s a brilliant hands-on dad. Of course, Harry will always say, ‘If you don’t want me to go away then I won’t’. But I wouldn’t dream of doing that,” she insists.

“He’s probably only got a few more years as a footballer left and he loves playing out there.”

Sheree’s television highlights

Best known as Tricia Dingle in Emmerdale, a role she played from 1998 to 2004 Sheree Murphy 
also appeared in The 
Royal before winning the part of Eva Strong in Hollyoaks.

In 2005 she appeared on the ITV reality show I’m a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!, finishing second to Carol Thatcher.

She presented the ITV spin-off series for series six with Phillip Schofield.

She also presents Channel 5’s Cowboy Builders.