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The Old Vic Theatre

Sheila Allen: Actress who made her mark on the stage before starring

Sheila Allen, a triumphant English actress possessed of strong looks, deep voice and a graceful, maternal manner, had, outside the theatre, only one true moment in the spotlight – as the seemingly steadfast suburban housewife Cassie Manson in one of the great television events of its age, Andrea Newman's magnificent Bouquet of Barbed Wire (1976). Cunningly cast for her theatrical repose, Allen was the foil for millions of viewers who were drawn into the story of the detonation of a nuclear family through the exploration of sexual taboos. Only halfway through the serial, in the extraordinary episode "Repercussions", a remarkable musing on sexual masochism, did we learn the whole truth about Cassie – and Allen brilliantly managed to reveal the uncomfortable details of her character's past without once losing our sympathy or understanding. It was a perfect showcase for her skill in expressing decency and intelligence, a skill that blessed many of her finest stage performances.

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Treasure Island, Bristol Old Vic

A ship has dropped anchor in Bristol. There's nothing unusual in that, perhaps. But this one is on dry land, parked outside the Old Vic Theatre and overrun by 18th-century pirates.