Sixties icon Sheila Hancock (pictured) will return to the West End in the new year when the recent Liverpool Playhouse production of The Anniversary transfers to the West End’s Garrick Theatre where it opens for a limited 12-week season on 26 January 2005 (previews from 20 January).

Bill McIllwraith's comedy, described as 'the mother-in-law's revenge', premiered in Liverpool in 1966 when Hancock played the young daughter-in-law, a role she reprised on screen eight years later opposite Bette Davis. In the new production, which ran at the Liverpool Playhouse this past September (See News, 3 Aug 2004), Hancock takes the role of the malicious and malevolent ‘Mum’.

Set in south London, The Anniversary centres around the formidable widow whose beloved sons and their bedevilled wives gather for the annual party celebrating Mum and her late husband’s wedding anniversary. It’s a battle of wits in which Mum schemes and plots to keep her chicks in the nest.

After training at RADA, Hancock began her career in musical theatre, comedy and revue. Her successes in the 1960s and 1970s – such as The Bed-sit Girl, The Rag Trade and But Seriously, It’s Sheila Hancock - were followed by stage credits for the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National and in the West End with, most notably, Sweeney Todd and Annie. On screen, her credits have included Three Men and a Little Lady, Love and Death on Long Island, Bedtime, The Russian Bride, Carry On Cleo, The Wildcats of St Trinian’s and EastEnders.

Hancock has most recently been seen on the London stage in The Arab-Israeli Cookbook and Peter Pan opposite her actor-husband, the late John Thaw (See News, 22 Feb 2002). Hancock has recently published to critical acclaim her memoir The Two of Us, about her life with Thaw (See Prizes & Offers to win a copy).

Hancock is rejoined in the cast of The Anniversary by Rosie Cavaliero (Abigail’s Party) as Karen, Liam Garrigan (Honeymoon Suite, TV’s Holby City) as Tom, Tony Maudsley (Dogs Barking) as Henry and Madeleine Worrall (Three Sisters) as Shirley. The production is directed by actor-director Denis Lawson and designed by Robin Don and presented in the West End by Matthew Byam Shaw, Mark Goucher and Act Productions.

- by Terri Paddock