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Last Updated: Sunday, 28 May 2006, 17:11 GMT 18:11 UK
Musical tempting actress Hancock
By Clare Gabriel
BBC Wales News website

Sheila Hancock
'I'm incredibly lucky' Hancock told the audience
Actress Sheila Hancock says she is ready to get on with a new stage in her life, more than four years after the death of her actor husband John Thaw.

Hancock, 73, told a packed audience at the Hay Festival that she was discussing a possible return to the West End in a musical.

"I'm still driven, but whether I'm driven as far as a musical and high kicks..." she said.

Hancock talked about her best-selling book, celebrating her life with Thaw.

She revealed how her husband, the star of TV dramas Inspector Morse and The Sweeney, never got used to the idea of being a celebrity himself.

She said the family used to laugh at the description that he was given as "the thinking woman's crumpet".

"I could see it of course, I thought he was a sexy beast, but he never went for it. The work was important, getting it right."

She said Thaw used to baulk at the thought of going to receive a Bafta or similar prize. "He loathed it, she said.

John Thaw and Sheila Hancock
He signed a contract with ITV the day before he died and he was choosing the interior for his Jag
Sheila Hancock

"Celebrity is such a big thing now, but when he started (acting) there wasn't celebrity," said Hancock, who added perhaps Big Brother would think have taking her now.

'Make the best'

Hancock also revealed the depths of despair that her husband's alcoholism brought the family as a whole.

She said she only coped because she "deeply, deeply loved" her husband.

"Come on, life is bloody awful, isn't it," she said. "On the whole you can't reach 73 without absolutely dreadful things happening to you.

"People die, people get ill, all those things happen to you and it's up to you when you get through it."

She said Thaw had never been able to face up to the cancer of the oesophagus which claimed his life - as it did Hancock's first husband.

"If there was something he did not want to deal with, he turned his back on it.

"I think that's what he did with his illness.

"He signed a contract with ITV the day before he died and he was choosing the interior for his Jag."

Hancock said she still could not bear to see moving images of her late husband but she was learning to move on after writing about her grief in her book.

"Life is damned hard. There are wonderful bits like coming here, of course. But what I have learnt is to make the best of those moments."

"I'm incredibly lucky".


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