Ken Tracey is back with another Famous Faces profile of a celebrity with links to SE London or north Kent.

When she was 10, actress Sheila Hancock was evacuated from the family home in Bexleyheath to Somerset. Her lively nature and need to play act concealed her shyness.

While gathering in the harvest, an older boy confessed his love for her. She squealed and ran away. The following morning her acting talent surfaced, and she explained to the boy she had a twin sister who, unlike herself, was inclined to being tongue-tied. She kept this act up, swapping from shy to confident each time she saw him. He was friends with both ‘twins’.

Sheila was born in 1933 in Blackgang, Isle of Wight but moved with her publican parents and sister to the Carpenters Arms at Kings Cross. Her mother played piano in the bar while her Italian father sang. Their talents primed Sheila for life as a performer.

Although non-Catholic she attended St Ethelreda’s Convent in Holborn, ironically later she became a Quaker. Meanwhile she honed her singing skills with the Salvation Army outside her parents' pub.

Life became better when the family, including the piano, moved to a semi in Latham Road, Bexleyheath. Her father worked in the Vickers factory at Crayford and her mother sold gloves in the store, Mitchells of Erith.

Sheila didn’t like playing Dopey in Snow White at her new school, Upton Road Juniors. She wanted the lead, so clowned around delighting the audience who hardly noticed Snow White.

She moved to Upland Junior School and later passed a scholarship to Dartford County Grammar (sister school to Mick Jagger’s Dartford Grammar).

She was later awarded the OBE and CBE for services to drama. Sadly, both her actor husbands, Alec Ross and John Thaw, died of cancer. She has three daughters.

At 85, while starring in the 2018 film Edie, she became the oldest person to climb Scotland’s Mount Suliven.