Sheila Hancock

Endeavour: Guest star Sheila Hancock is the widow of original Inspector Morse John Thaw

It's a family affair on Endeavour

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Veteran actress Sheila Hancock appears in Inspector Morse prequel Endeavour tonight (Friday February 5) and she is the widow of John Thaw.

Fans of the period crime drama will know that the show’s original star was John.

As Inspector Morse, John became a mega-hit around the world.

But now his widow, 87-year-old Sheila, pops up in this episode of Endeavour, playing a tarot card reader.

But who is Sheila Hancock and how long was she and John married for?

Sheila Hancock
Sheila has a familial link to Endeavour (Credit:

Who is Sheila Hancock in Endeavour?

Born on the Isle of Wight in 1933, Sheila’s first foray into acting came in 1958 when she starred in West End play Breath Of Spring.

Buoyed by her West End debut she went on to appear in legendary comic Peter Cook’s revue, One Over The Eight.

In fact, throughout her early career, Sheila appeared in more comedy than straight acting.

So much so, a host of BBC sitcoms followed in the 1960s.

JOhn Thaw as Inspector Morse
John Thaw as Inspector Morse (Credit: YouTube/ITV)

What is Sheila’s link to Endeavour?

After her first husband Alec Ross died in 1971, Sheila found love again with another actor – John Thaw.

From 1987 to 2000, John played the character of Inspector Morse in the titular ITV series, based on the Colin Dexter novels.

Throughout 33 episodes, the Oxford-based show became a huge global hit.

Sadly, John was diagnosed with oesophageal cancer in 2001.

He died the following year, aged 60.

When did Sheila appear in EastEnders?

In 2000, Sheila landed a role in BBC soap, EastEnders.

For a year she played Steve and Jackie Owen’s poisonous mother Barbara.

When she became critically ill, it was revealed that she had abused Steve (played by Martin Kemp) when he was younger.

When Barbara passed away Steve’s wife Mel (Tamzin Outhwaite) was the only person who went to the funeral.

Abigail Thaw in Endeavour
Abigail is John’s daughter (Credit: ITV)

Is Abigail Thaw John Thaw’s daughter?

Endeavour – which portrays the young Morse in the 1960s and 70s – also stars Abigail Thaw.

Abigail plays Dorothea Frazil, editor of the local newspaper in Oxford.

She is John’s daughter from his first marriage to Sally Alexander.

Going to work on Endeavour doesn’t feel like a homage to my father.

She told the Radio Times: “Going to work on Endeavour doesn’t feel like a homage to my father.

“But it does give me a jolt every now and then – it happens, funnily enough, when I’m in Oxford, where I think about him a lot more.

“I’m tired after a few days’ filming and think, ‘Blimey, he did this for months.’ I never realised when I used to go round to see him for Sunday lunch and a gossip.”

Viewers can watch Endeavour on various outlets (Credit: ITV)

Where can I watch old episodes of Lewis and Endeavour?

The good news is that there are two ways to watch old episodes of Inspector Morse, spin-off Lewis and prequel Endeavour.

ITV3 regularly shows repeats of all three shows.

Read more: Great Canal Journeys: Sheila Hancock likened to ‘Wonder Woman’ as viewers praise her and Gyles Brandreth

But, if you’re impatient and want to watch on-demand, subscription service Britbox carries all three shows.

Head to the streaming channel here to sign and in and subscribe.

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