Sheila Hancock still 'feels the presence' of late husband John Thaw

Sheila Hancock opens up about losing her husband John Thaw to cancer back in 2002 credit:Bang Showbiz
Sheila Hancock opens up about losing her husband John Thaw to cancer back in 2002 credit:Bang Showbiz

Dame Sheila Hancock still "feels the presence" of late husband John Thaw.

The 89-year-old actress was married to 'Inspector Morse star John - who died of cancer at the age of 60 - from 1973 until his 2002 death and admitted that she now regrets not "trying to understand" his fascination with the universe.

She said: "I remember when John used to ask me to join him looking at the stars at our French home - we no D longer see them in big over-lit cities - I'm would have a quick look and say, 'Yes, lovely, and carry on cooking supper. He would stand there for ages, and I think now that he probably knew that feeling of being part of the universe. And I didn't understand it. How sad that I was too busy to try."

The Olivier Award-winning actress - who has daughters Melanie, 57, and Joanna, 48, from her marriage to John - added that just before he passed, John spent a "very long time" staring at the stars, and now two decades can still "feel his presence" as she questions whether she will ever be able to "set aside" her own "rational approach" to life before her own death.

Writing in her new autobiography, 'Old Rage', she said: "On our last visit to our French home, when he was mortally ill, though weak he stood stock-still for over half an hour, looking at the view of the mountains, forest, and blue, blue sky.

"Then again, on the last evening, he sat outside staring at the stars for a very long time. Is it any wonder that I now, years after his death, still feel his presence, his energy? Can I ever, before my own inevitable death, set aside my sensible, rational approach to life and contemplate the inexplicable?"

However, Sheila also explained that she refuses to "dwell" on what it might have been like to share her latter years with John but joked that he would have "quite liked" the COVID-19 lockdowns.

She said: "I do not allow myself to dwell on how it would have been to share my old age with the man I loved. I disapprove of attributing possible opinions and behaviour to dead people, but I can't help thinking John would have quite liked this situation. Driven as we both were, by the Protestant work ethic, he would have enjoyed an excuse not to do 13 hours a day on a film set. He did not have friends, apart from those he worked with, so having people around for dinner or drinks never happened anyway. He liked it that way."