Sheila Mercier

Sheila Mercier
Born
Sheila Betty Rix

(1919-01-01) 1 January 1919 (age 100)
Years active 1936–1996, 2009
Spouse(s) Peter Mercier (1951–1993) (his death)
Children 2
Relatives Brian Rix (brother, deceased)
Elspet Gray (sister-in-law, deceased)
Jamie Rix (nephew)

Sheila Betty Mercier (née Rix; born 1 January 1919)[1] is a retired English actress, of stage and television, best known for playing Annie Sugden in soap opera Emmerdale for over 20 years from the show's first episode in 1972 until the mid 1990s, with a guest return in 2009.

Early life and education

Mercier was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England, the daughter of Herbert Rix (of J.R. Rix & Sons Ltd) and his wife Fanny. After education at the French Convent (Hull) and at Hunmanby Hall (both East Riding of Yorkshire), she trained for the stage at the Stratford-upon-Avon College of Drama under Randle Ayrton.[2]

Career

Mercier had a long career on stage before her television career. Donald Wolfit had talent spotted her and she toured with Wolfit's own Shakespeare company[3] in 1939. During the Second World War she joined the WAAF division of the Royal Air Force,[3] serving in fighter command,[3] eventually becoming adjutant. After the war, she worked in repertory theatre until 1951, receiving positive reviews from critics. One review said of her performance in The Enchanted Cottage in 1948, "Sheila Rix is outstanding as the witch-like housekeeper."[4] In Noel Coward's Hay Fever at the Tonbridge Repertory Theatre the same year, a review said, "Sheila Rix superbly portrays the ex-actress, extremely emotional mother of the family."[5] About Cocteau's The Eagle with Two Heads, another review said, "The number of repertory companies who have dealt with this striking play has been very small. Notable in the cast was Sheila Rix as the tragic Queen, who held her audience throughout." [6]

From 1951 until 1972, she worked with her brother Sir Brian Rix in the Whitehall farces,[3] both at the Whitehall Theatre itself, on tour to regional theatres, and in televised performances on BBC TV. Critics commented, "Sheila Mercier ..[is] up to the second in tempo and sense of fun;"[7] "In Chase Me, Comrade!, Jacqueline Ellis and Helen Jesson as well as Sheila Mercier, all contribute mightily to the fun with excellent work;"[8] and "Sheila Mercier is refreshingly sane as the commander's wife."[9] She also appeared in the television series Dial RIX (1963) alongside her husband, Peter Mercier.

In 1972, she was cast in the role she is best known for, the matriarch Annie Sugden, one of the principal characters in the new British soap opera Emmerdale Farm (later simply Emmerdale).[10] She appeared as a main cast member until 1994 with rare occasional appearances since, notably for on-screen son Joe's funeral in June 1995, along with screen husband Amos Brearly. In 1979, Hazel Holt in The Stage wrote, "I never cease to admire the sheer consistency of Sheila Mercier's performance as Annie Sugden in Yorkshire's Emmerdale Farm. .. Every Tuesday and Friday, week in and week out she is never less than convincing."[11] During the 1,000th episode in 1985, she was presented with the 'big red book' of This Is Your Life.[12] Aged 89, Mercier appeared in a special programme dedicated to Emmerdale's 5,000th episode, where members of the cast were interviewed. It was transmitted on ITV in May 2008. She has occasionally returned to the series since her departure. In February 2009, aged 90, she reprised her most famous role, and made a special guest appearance on Emmerdale as Annie Sugden, attending the funeral of her on-screen son, Jack Sugden (played by actor Clive Hornby, who died the year previously). In July 2008 she was a mourner at Hornby's actual funeral.

Selected stage performances

Year Title Author Theatre Role Company
1939 A Murder Has Been Arranged Emlyn Williams Palace, Hull Mrs Arthur Carl Bernard [13]
1940 London Wall John Van Druten New Theatre [14]
1947 The Man Who Came to Dinner George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart Royal Court, Warrington Philip Stainton Players [15]
1948 Is Your Honeymoon Really Necessary? E. Vivian Tidmarsh Tonbridge Repertory Theatre Robert Marshall Company [16][17]
1948 Tons of Money Will Evans and Arthur Valentine Tonbridge Repertory Theatre Louise Allington Robert Marshall Company [18]
1948 The Cat and the Canary John Willard Tonbridge Repertory Theatre Mammy Pleasant Robert Marshall Company [19]
1948 The Enchanted Cottage Arthur Wing Pinero Tonbridge Repertory Theatre Housekeeper Robert Marshall Company [4]
1948 Hay Fever Noel Coward Tonbridge Repertory Theatre Judith Bliss Robert Marshall Company [5]
1948 The Eagle with Two Heads Jean Cocteau The Queen Ilkley Repertory Company [6]
1949 Jupiter Laughs A. J. Cronin Margate Hippodrome Viking Theatre Company [20]
1949 Love In Idleness Terence Rattigan Margate Hippodrome Olivia Brown Viking Theatre Company [20]
1949 An Inspector Calls J. B. Priestley Margate Hippodrome Viking Theatre Company [21]
1949 The Importance of Being Earnest Oscar Wilde Margate Hippodrome Lady Bracknell Viking Theatre Company [22]
1949 Room For Two Gilbert Wakefield Margate Hippodrome Clare Broden Viking Theatre Company [23]
1949 Rookery Nook Ben Travers Margate Hippodrome Mrs Leverett Viking Theatre Company [24]
1949 Sweet Aloes Jay Mallory Margate Hippodrome Viking Theatre Company [25]
1950 Rope Patrick Hamilton Bridlington Spa Viking Theatre Company [26]
1951 Castle in the Air Margate Hippodrome "Boss" Trent Viking Theatre Company [27]

Selected Whitehall farces

Year Title Author Theatre/TV Role
1951 Which Witch? John Trayne and Rosamund Beauchamp Miniature Theatre, Sidcup Wife [28]
1958 On Monday Next Philip King BBC TV Sandra Layton [29]
1958 A Cuckoo in the Nest Ben Travers BBC TV [30]
1961-1962 One for the Pot Ray Cooney and Tony Hilton Whitehall Theatre, BBC TV Amy Hardcastle [31][32][33][34]
1961 Basinful of Briny Leslie Sands BBC TV [35]
1963 Love's a Luxury Guy Paxton and Edward V. Hoile BBC TV [36]
1964 One Wild Oat Vernon Sylvaine BBC TV [37]
1964-1966 Chase Me Comrade! Ray Cooney Coventry Theatre, Whitehall Theatre, Morecambe Winter Gardens; Manchester Opera House; Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool; King's Theatre, Glasgow; King's Theatre, Edinburgh Mrs Janet Rimmington [9][8][38][39]
1964-1967 Bang Bang Beirut / Stand By Your Bedouin Ray Cooney and Tony Hilton Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, Guildford; Manchester Opera House; Royal Court Theatre, Liverpool; King's Theatre, Glasgow; King's Theatre, Edinburgh; Garrick Theatre, London Eloise [40][41][39][42]
1967 Uproar in the House Anthony Marriott and Alistair Foot Garrick Theatre, London; Whitehall Theatre Audrey Grey [7][43]
1968 A Public Mischief Kenneth Horne BBC TV [44]
1969 The Facts of Life Garrick Theatre, London; BBC TV [45]
1971 Will Any Gentleman? Vernon Sylvaine Cardiff New Theatre, BBC TV Mrs. Whittle [46]
1971 One Wild Oat Vernon Sylvaine Cardiff New Theatre, BBC TV Lydia Gilbey [46]

Selected filmography

Year Title Role
1972–1996, 2009 Emmerdale Annie Sugden
1972 Six With Rix Various roles
1960–1970 Brian Rix Presents Various roles in Whitehall farces, as above

Personal life

She was widowed when her husband, actor Peter Mercier, died in 1993, after 42 years of marriage. The couple's son, Nigel Mercier (6 December 1954 – 6 January 2017) also worked in the TV industry, initially with BBC Television News at Television Centre as a videotape editor and then at LWT.[3] In 1994 Mercier's autobiography, Annie's Song: My Life & Emmerdale, written with Anthony Hayward, was published. In it, she disclosed that she had been raped by an officer early in the war, had become pregnant and given her baby daughter up for adoption, and had been contacted by her daughter thirty years later.[47] Mercier's brother was actor and campaigner Sir Brian Rix,[48] who was the father of children's author, Jamie Rix.

References

  1. ^ Slide, Anthony (10 March 1996). "Some Joe You Don't Know: An American Biographical Guide to 100 British Television Personalities". Greenwood Publishing Group – via Google Books.
  2. ^ "Yorkshire Girls at Stage School". Leeds Mercury. 22 November 1938. p. 7. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e Gillingham, Syd (8 June 1985). "Don't look for Annie on the farm". Liverpool Echo. p. 15. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  4. ^ a b ""Enchanted Cottage"". Kent & Sussex Courier. 16 April 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  5. ^ a b "Repertory's 'Hay Fever'". Kent & Sussex Courier. 23 April 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Repertory. At Ilkley". The Stage. 9 September 1948. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  7. ^ a b "The Latest Rix Farce Eventually Becomes Ridiculously Funny". The Stage: 13. 27 April 1967. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  8. ^ a b Marriott, R. B. (23 July 1964). "Whitehall Farce. They'll be Chasing the Comrade for Years". The Stage: 13. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  9. ^ a b "Brian Rix in a night of fun at the Coventry Theatre". Coventry Evening Telegraph. 18 June 1964. p. 11. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  10. ^ "Six principals in Yorkshire's new drama serial". The Stage. 7 September 1972. p. 14. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  11. ^ Holt, Hazel (22 February 1979). "Not much plot but it had lots of characters". The Stage: 19. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  12. ^ Wilson, Ian (16 December 1992). "Books: A famous farming soap reaches its 20th birthday. Cause for celebration". Newcastle Evening Chronicle. Newcastle, Northumberland, England. p. 12, Choices. Retrieved 6 May 2019.
  13. ^ "This Week's Shows In Hull". Hull Daily Mail. 1 August 1939. p. 7. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  14. ^ ""London Wall" Striking Farewell Performance". Hull Daily Mail. 17 December 1940. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  15. ^ "Chit Chat. Warrington "Rep."". The Stage. 29 May 1947. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  16. ^ "A New Company". The Stage: 1. 26 February 1948. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  17. ^ E.M.S. (12 March 1948). "Repertory's Fresh Start". Kent & Sussex Courier. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  18. ^ "Repertory Hilarity". Kent & Sussex Courier. 2 April 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  19. ^ "A spine chiller". Kent & Sussex Courier. 9 April 1948. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  20. ^ a b "Love In Idleness". Thanet Advertiser. 15 February 1949. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  21. ^ "An Inspector Calls. Hippodrome Comedy". Thanet Advertiser. 22 February 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  22. ^ "Oscar Wilde Comedy". Thanet Advertiser. 1 March 1949. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  23. ^ "Room For Two. Farce at Hippodrome". Thanet Advertiser. 19 April 1949. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  24. ^ "Rookery Nook. Producer has part at Hippodrome". Thanet Advertiser. 10 May 1949. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  25. ^ "Sweet Aloes". Thanet Advertiser. 24 May 1949. p. 3. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  26. ^ Raleigh, H. M. (29 July 1950). "The Repertory Theatre. Team work is the keynote of the Vikings". Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer. p. 6. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  27. ^ "Round the Country - Margate". The Stage: 12. 1 February 1951. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  28. ^ "Sidcup Premiere - "Which Witch?"". The Stage: 10. 19 April 1951. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  29. ^ "Sunday TV. Brian Rix and Joan Sims in 'On Monday Next'". The Tewkesbury Register. 2 May 1958. p. 3. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  30. ^ "High Jinks At An Inn". Liverpool Echo. 20 December 1958. p. 2. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  31. ^ Trewin, J. C. (19 August 1961). "The World of the Theatre. Familiar Faces". Illustrated London News: 34. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  32. ^ "Chit Chat. 'One for the Pot'". The Stage: 8. 13 July 1961. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  33. ^ A.M. (10 August 1961). "Modest aim - laughter for its own sake". The Stage: 14. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  34. ^ "Mischief is brewing". Harrow Observer. 17 August 1961. p. 4. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  35. ^ "Sunday Viewing". Aberdeen Evening Express. 5 August 1961. p. 5. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  36. ^ "Another Whitehall Farce on BBC TV". The Stage: 10. 14 February 1963. Retrieved 11 May 2019.
  37. ^ Monitor (1 August 1964). "A classic Rix farce - and a trio of old films". Coventry Evening Telegraph. p. 2. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  38. ^ Moorhouse, Sydney (26 May 1966). "Morecambe Entertainments". The Stage. p. 9. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  39. ^ a b "'Whitehall' On Tour". The Stage: 1, 16. 15 September 1966. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  40. ^ "Whitehall Preview at Guildford". The Stage: 1. 19 May 1966. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  41. ^ "Theatre - Out of Town". The Tatler: 45. 4 June 1966. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  42. ^ "First Farce in the New Rix Season at the Garrick". The Stage: 13. 23 March 1967. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  43. ^ "'Uproar in the House' re-staged". The Stage: 14. 26 October 1967. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  44. ^ "Stars of Farce in Kenneth Horne Comedy". Belfast Telegraph. 23 August 1968. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  45. ^ "Preview". Coventry Evening Telegraph. 20 August 1969. p. 2. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  46. ^ a b "Sylvaine farces with Brian Rix". The Stage: 13. 22 April 1971. Retrieved 12 May 2019.
  47. ^ O'Brien, Debbie (23 November 1994). "Agony of my rape baby - by TV star". Evening Herald. Dublin, Ireland. pp. 17, 22. Retrieved 12 May 2019. Extract from Annie's Song - My Life & Emmerdale by Sheila Mercier and Anthony Hayward.
  48. ^ "Profile. Sir Brian Rix. Reluctant hero with two lives". The Observer. London, England. 12 April 1987. p. 9. Retrieved 6 May 2019.

External links

Other Languages

Copyright