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25th Mar 2021

Sheila Hancock says lockdown has taught her the UK ‘needs a revolution’

Danny Jones

The 88-year-old actor shared her thoughts on a year in lockdown and why she thinks ‘we need a revolution’

Sheila Hancock, star of stage and screen for more than 50 years, spoke to BBC Radio 4’s, Emma Barnett during Woman’s Hour this past Tuesday. She spoke sincerely about her struggles with staying sane during lockdown (we feel you, Sheila, everyone does) and her anxieties about coming back out into the world when things die down.

Most interestingly, however, Hancock was also very candid about how she has perceived the country and the government, in particular, over the past year. She said that if she has learned anything, it’s that why she thinks “we need a revolution”.

As you can see in the clip, her comment catches Barnett slightly off-guard at first, but once she begins to clarify, she gives a very eloquent and impassioned evaluation of Britain’s current state of affairs.

She comments on how the past year has highlighted “the vast divisions in our country” and “the gross undervaluation of the people that have got us through this mess”.

She then went on to get a jab in at the fruitless gestures made by the government, especially since coronavirus hit: “It’s no good standing on the step with a torch and clapping, that’s nonsense […] We’ve got to get down to making our society work better”.

Hancock also believes that most of the time, “decisions are made for political reasons as opposed to the welfare of the country”, citing that politicians would rather protect the feelings of their fellow party members than do what needs to be done. Get in there, Sheila – you’re a real one.

On a lighter note, she also cracked wise about the comforts of permanently being at home: no makeup, not having to do your hair, sitting in your “dirty old trousers” and just generally “enjoy[ing] being slutty”, as she put it.

It was hugely comforting to hear that not only does an Olivier award-winning actress enjoy being just a bit gross in private like the rest of us, but that in a time when everyone’s patience and faith in the administration, people of an older generation are just as fed up with Westminster as anyone.

We probably should’ve expected this, in truth. Although she’s probably best known for performances in Cabaret, Sweeney Todd, Annie and a myriad of work in TV and film, plenty of you will recognise her from Celebrity Gogglebox.

In a show built on capturing real people’s reactions, she certainly meets the brief whenever she pops up on the show. She didn’t disappoint this time round either.