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Hancock, Sheila (1933-)

Actor, Presenter

Main image of Hancock, Sheila (1933-)

A versatile star who was first known for light comedy roles, Sheila Hancock made a big splash as 'good time' girl Carole in smash hit sitcom The Rag Trade (BBC, 1961-63), a series unusual at the time with its preponderance of strong female characters. She followed the series with many more appearances in sitcoms including The Bed Sit Girl (BBC, 1965-66), Mr Digby Darling (ITV, 1969-71) and Now Take My Wife (BBC, 1971).

In 1972 she changed tack dramatically and rebelled against playing 'dizzy blondes' when she got her own starring BBC2 series But Seriously - it's Sheila Hancock (BBC, 1972-73), a sharper edged more adult comedy tinged with satire with sketches written by the likes of Harold Pinter, N.F. Simpson, Ogden Nash, John Bird and Roger McGough. This entire series (like its predecessor, BBC2's Show of the Week - Simply Sheila from 1968) is absent from the archives, so Hancock's pioneering role in this field of comedy has often been overlooked.

In later years she consolidated her TV success with interesting projects like Couples (ITV, 1976), Gone to the Dogs (ITV, 1991), Gone to Seed (ITV, 1992), Dangerous Lady (ITV, 1995), Close Relations (BBC, 1998) and Bedtime (BBC, 2000-03) but also continued to ply her craft on stage. Sadly, she lost both her first and second husbands (actors Alec Ross and John Thaw) to cancer and had a battle herself with the disease. Her memoirs, The Two of Us - My Life with John Thaw (Bloomsbury, 2004), became a huge bestseller.

Ramblings of an Actress (Hutchinson 1987)
The Two of Us - My Life with John Thaw (Bloomsbury 2004)
Just Me (Bloomsbury 2008)

Dick Fiddy

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From the BFI's filmographic database

Related media

Selected credits

Thumbnail image of Carry On Cleo (1964)Carry On Cleo (1964)

Comedy in which two British slaves end up in Ancient Rome and Egypt

Thumbnail image of Entertaining Mr Sloane (1968)Entertaining Mr Sloane (1968)

TV version of Joe Orton's farce, with Sheila Hancock and Edward Woodward

Thumbnail image of Rag Trade, The (1961-63)Rag Trade, The (1961-63)

Comedy series satirising union activities in a clothing factory

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Related people and organisations

Thumbnail image of Thaw, John (1942-2002)Thaw, John (1942-2002)

Actor, Presenter, Producer