Cultural Life: Sheila Hancock, Actress

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The Independent Online

I am starring in Pinter's The Birthday Party at the Lyric Hammersmith. What with learning lines, it doesn't give me much time to read. Mind you, I'm supposed to have read Doris Lessing's The Grass Is Singing by Sunday because I am a member of a book club. My late husband, John Thaw, played the lead in the film adaptation. We meet every few months at the homes of women who are largely in the showbiz industry. I liked Penelope Lively's Moon Tiger best. We often do new books, but we never agree with the critics, ever. I've just completed a book, Just Me, about travelling and living on my own, which is a follow-up to The Two of Us.

I went to see There Will Be Blood with Daniel Day-Lewis. Dan was in my company, many moons ago, when I was the artistic director of the RSC touring company in the Eighties. This was long before he was a megastar. I just thought he was super-talented then. It has been such a joy to watch him develop. The movie is beautifully shot, with images you will never forget. The whole of the opening sequence is silence. It's just men digging in rocks, but it is utterly compelling. I never see movies on the small screen, but I watch Babe on DVD with my grandchildren because I love it when the granddad dances to cheer up the pig.

I am a classical and jazz fan. When I was in Cabaret, we used to go to Ronnie Scott's after the show. I have Radio 3 on constantly and I occasionally listen to Classic FM. I get awfully angry, because sometimes their recordings are not very good.

The last theatre I went to was Kneehigh Theatre's adaptation of Brief Encounter at the cinema on the Haymarket. It uses the original 1945 film as a basis and it explores it using film, music, and dance. The whole venue has been converted into a period cinema. I take my hat off to the company because they are so imaginative. Opera North's production of Peter Grimes at Sadler's Wells, as well as Anthony Minghella's Madame Butterfly at the Coliseum were also beautiful.

'The Birthday Party' is at the Lyric Hammersmith, London W6 (0871 221 1729) from 8 to 24 May