For 28 years her marriage to John Thaw was an all-consuming one. More than a decade after his death he is, for Sheila Hancock, still irreplaceable.
Asked if she could imagine ever sharing her life with someone new, the 80-year-old actress replies: ‘No way. Honestly, nobody can compare with him.
‘I also can’t be bothered to go through the process of getting to know somebody and to pretend you are something else or whatever you do for them. I like my privacy now, I like my freedom.’
Miss Hancock talks about the grief that continues to consume her and how she has managed to build a new life in a wide-ranging interview for Good Housekeeping magazine.
Thaw, best-known for his starring roles in The Sweeney and Inspector Morse, died of oesophageal cancer in February 2002, aged 60.
Miss Hancock has admitted in the past that Thaw was a depressive and alcoholic and as such it turned their marriage into a tempestuous one.
‘It was an obsessive love,’ she said. ‘My father was a drinker, and my first husband drank, and I worked out that I like instability and danger.
With John, you never knew what mood he was going to be in. When he was wonderful he was absolutely wonderful, and when he was vile he was vile.’ Miss Hancock admits it is now friendship rather than love that she seeks.
She told Good Housekeeping: ‘When I lived with John I was quite isolated because he didn’t want anyone else.
‘My friends had rather dropped out of my life so I had to make a conscious effort to say, “I am around and available and I would love to see you”. I make friends, whereas before I wouldn’t have bothered.’
Miss Hancock, whose 60-year career has encompassed TV, film and theatre, has no intention of retiring and ensures that she stays in shape by doing yoga, pilates and swimming and walking everywhere.
She also passes on her fashion advice for older women: ‘Have a good haircut – it makes such a difference to how you look and feel.’
Read the full Sheila Hancock interview in the October issue of Good Housekeeping, on sale today.
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