Sheila Hancock: Wikis


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Sheila Hancock OBE
Born Sheila Cameron Hancock
22 February 1933 (1933-02-22) (age 77)
Blackgang, Isle of Wight
Years active 1958 - present
Spouse(s) Alec Ross (1954–1971)
John Thaw (1973–2002)

Sheila Cameron Hancock OBE (born 22 February 1933) is an English actress, director and author.


Early life

Sheila Hancock was born in Blackgang on the Isle of Wight, the daughter of Ivy Louise (née Woodward) and Enrico Cameron Hancock,[1] who was a publican. Her sister Billie is seven years older (and worked as a variety artist until retiring to Antibes in 2003 at the age of 79).[2] After wartime evacuation, Hancock attended Dartford County Grammar School and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art.


She worked in repertory during the 1950s and made her West End debut in 1958, replacing Joan Sims in the play Breath of Spring. She then appeared in Joan Littlewood's Theatre Workshop production of Make Me An Offer in 1959, and her other early West End appearances included the revue One Over the Eight with Kenneth Williams in 1961 and starring in Rattle of a Simple Man in 1962.

In 1965 she made her Broadway debut in Entertaining Mr Sloane. In 1978 she played Miss Hannigan in the original London cast of the musical Annie and two years later she played Mrs Lovett in the original London production of the musical Sweeney Todd.

During the 1980s she appeared in The Winter's Tale and Titus Andronicus for the Royal Shakespeare Company and The Cherry Orchard and The Duchess of Malfi at the National Theatre.

In 2006 she played the role of Fraulein Schneider in the West End revival of the musical Cabaret at the Lyric Theatre, for which she won the Laurence Olivier Award as Best Performance in a Supporting Role In A Musical . In 2009 she began playing Mother Superior in Sister Act the Musical at the London Palladium.


Her first big television role was playing Carol in the BBC sitcom The Rag Trade in the early 1960s. She also played the lead roles in the sitcoms The Bed-Sit Girl, Mr Digby Darling and Now Take My Wife.

Her other television credits include Doctor Who, Kavanagh QC (opposite her husband, John Thaw), EastEnders, The Russian Bride, Bedtime, Fortysomething, Bleak House, New Tricks and The Catherine Tate Show.

In 2008 she played the part of a terminally ill patient who's travelled to Switzerland to have an assisted suicide in one of The Last Word monologues for the BBC. In 2009 she played Liz in The Rain Has Stopped, part of the BBC daytime mini-series Moving On.


She has appeared in numerous films, including Carry On Cleo (1964), The Anniversary (1968), Buster (1988), Love and Death on Long Island (1997) and The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas (2008).

Other work

She has also made guest appearances on television shows like Grumpy Old Women, Room 101 and Have I Got News For You. On radio she has been a semi-regular contestant on the BBC Radio 4 panel game Just a Minute since 1967.

In 2010 she will be appearing as a judge on the BBC show Over the Rainbow, along with Charlotte Church, Andrew Lloyd Webber and John Partridge. The show will attempt to find a member of the public to play Dorothy in a new West End production of The Wizard of Oz.

Personal life

Hancock was married to actor Alec Ross from 1954 until his death from cancer in 1971. They had one daughter, Melanie, born in 1964. In 1973 Hancock married actor John Thaw. He adopted Melanie and they had another daughter, Joanna. Thaw's daughter Abigail, from his first marriage, also joined their family. All three of their children have become actresses.

She was married to Thaw until his death from oesophageal cancer on 21 February 2002. Hancock herself was diagnosed with breast cancer during the late 1980s but made a full recovery. Her 2004 book, The Two of Us is a dual biography, which gives accounts of both their lives, as well as focusing on their 28-year marriage. This was followed by the 2008 book, Just Me, an account of coming to terms with widowhood. She has seven grandchildren.

Hancock is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). She is a patron of the London HIV charity, The Food Chain and works with the London children's charity Kids Company. [3]

Honours and charities


External links

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