Sheila Mercier

Last updated
Sheila Mercier
Sheila Betty Rix

(1919-01-01) 1 January 1919 (age 100)
Years active1936–1996, 2000, 2009
Spouse(s)Peter Mercier (1951–1993) (his death)
Relatives Brian Rix (brother, deceased)
Elspet Gray (sister-in-law, deceased)
Jamie Rix (nephew)

Sheila Betty Mercier (néeRix; born 1 January 1919) [1] [2] is a retired English actress. She was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. She played Annie Sugden in Emmerdale for over 20 years between 1972 and 1995, and made two further appearances in 1996 and 2009. [3]

Kingston upon Hull City and Unitary authority in England

Kingston upon Hull, usually abbreviated to Hull, is a port city and unitary authority in the East Riding of Yorkshire, England. It lies upon the River Hull at its confluence with the Humber Estuary, 25 miles (40 km) inland from the North Sea, with a population of 260,700 (mid-2017 est.). Hull lies east of Leeds, east southeast of York and northeast of Sheffield.

East Riding of Yorkshire County of England

The East Riding of Yorkshire, or simply East Riding, is an area in Northern England and can refer either to the administrative county of the East Riding of Yorkshire which is a unitary authority, to the ceremonial county (Lieutenancy) of the East Riding of Yorkshire or to the easternmost of the three subdivisions (ridings) of the traditional county of Yorkshire.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north-northwest. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea lies to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.



After education at the French Convent (Hull) and at Hunmanby Hall (both East Riding of Yorkshire), she trained for the stage at the Stratford-upon-Avon College of Drama. Mercier had a long career on stage before her television career. Donald Wolfit had talent spotted her and she toured with Wolfit's own Shakespeare company in 1939. During the Second World War she joined the WAAF division of the Royal Air Force, eventually becoming adjutant. Mercier appeared in supporting roles in a handful of films, and the television series Dial RIX (1963) alongside her husband, Peter Mercier.

Hunmanby village in North Yorkshire, England

Hunmanby is a large village and civil parish in the Scarborough district of North Yorkshire, England. It is on the edge of the Yorkshire Wolds, approximately 3 miles (4.8 km) southwest of Filey, and is on the route of the Centenary Way.

Stratford-upon-Avon Town in Warwickshire, England

Stratford-upon-Avon, commonly known as just Stratford, is a market town and civil parish in the Stratford-on-Avon District, in the county of Warwickshire, England, on the River Avon, 91 miles (146 km) north west of London, 22 miles (35 km) south east of Birmingham, and 8 miles (13 km) south west of Warwick. The estimated population in 2007 was 25,505, increasing to 27,445 at the 2011 Census.

Donald Wolfit English actor

Sir Donald Wolfit, CBE was an English actor-manager, known for his touring wartime productions of Shakespeare. He was especially renowned for his portrayal of King Lear.

She is best known for her role as the matriarch Annie Sugden in the long-running British soap opera Emmerdale . She appeared from the very first episode in 1972 and appeared as a main cast member until 1994 with rare occasional appearances since, notably for on-screen son Joe's funeral in June 1995, along with screen husband Amos Brearly. Aged 89, Mercier appeared in a special programme dedicated to Emmerdale's 5,000th episode, where members of the cast were interviewed. It was transmitted on ITV in May 2008. She has occasionally returned to the series since her departure. On 9/10 February 2009, aged 90, she reprised her most famous role, and made a special guest appearance on Emmerdale as Annie Sugden, attending the funeral of her on-screen son, Jack Sugden (played by actor Clive Hornby, who died the year previously). In July 2008 she was a mourner at Hornby's actual funeral.

Annie Sugden

Anne "Annie" Brearly is a fictional character from the ITV soap opera, Emmerdale. She is played by Sheila Mercier as a regular character between 1972 and 1994, while making occasional guest appearances in the show since her original departure. Mercier cut back on location filming during the late 1980s and eventually left the serial in 1994 due to the gruelling schedule. Annie was one of Emmerdale's original characters, appearing in its first episode on 16 October 1972 and became the longest serving female character in the series' history. She was the soap's "first matriarch", the maternal force behind the Sugden family, who were collectively one of Emmerdale's main focal points.

A soap opera is an ongoing drama serial on television or radio, featuring the lives of many characters and their emotional relationships. The term soap opera originated from radio dramas being sponsored by soap manufacturers.

<i>Emmerdale</i> British soap opera

Emmerdale is a British soap opera set in Emmerdale, a fictional village in the Yorkshire Dales. Created by Kevin Laffan, Emmerdale Farm was first broadcast on 16 October 1972. Produced by ITV Yorkshire, it has been filmed at their Leeds studio since its inception. The programme is broadcast in every ITV region.

Personal life

She was widowed when her husband, actor Peter Mercier, died in 1993, after 42 years of marriage. The couple's son, Nigel Mercier (6 December 1954 – 6 January 2017) also worked in the TV industry, initially with BBC Television News at Television Centre as a videotape editor and then at LWT. In 1994 Mercier's autobiography, Annie's Song: My Life & Emmerdale, written with Anthony Hayward, was published. Mercier's brother was actor and campaigner Brian, who was the father of children's author, Jamie Rix.

BBC News BBC department responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs

BBC News is an operational business division of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) responsible for the gathering and broadcasting of news and current affairs. The department is the world's largest broadcast news organisation and generates about 120 hours of radio and television output each day, as well as online news coverage. The service maintains 50 foreign news bureaus with more than 250 correspondents around the world. Fran Unsworth has been Director of News and Current Affairs since January 2018.

London Weekend Television former ITV network franchise

London Weekend Television (LWT) was the ITV network franchise holder for Greater London and the Home Counties at weekends, broadcasting from Fridays at 5.15 pm to Monday mornings at 6:00 am. From 1968 until 1992, when LWT's weekday counterpart was Thames Television, there was an on-screen handover to LWT on Friday nights. From 1993 to 2002, when LWT's weekday counterpart was Carlton Television, the transfer usually occurred invisibly during a commercial break as Carlton and LWT shared studio and transmission facilities.

Anthony Hayward is a British journalist and author. He is a regular contributor to The Guardian, The Daily Telegraph and The Independent, and has written more than 20 books about television and film. The subjects of justice and censorship have been constant themes throughout his work.


1972–1996, 2009 Emmerdale Annie Sugden
1972Six With RixVarious roles
1960–1970Brian Rix PresentsVarious roles
1967Uproar in the HouseAudrey Grey

Related Research Articles

Mollie Sugden English comedy actress

Mollie Sugden was an English comedy actress, best known for portraying the saleswoman Mrs Slocombe in the British sitcom Are You Being Served? (1972–85). She later reprised this role in Grace & Favour (1992–93), Sugden and her co-star John Inman would become cult figures in America, so much so she was asked to appear in Donizetti's opera, La fille du regiment, in a non-singing role. Sugden appeared in many other television series, including The Liver Birds, That's My Boy and Coronation Street.

Brian Rix British actor

Brian Norman Roger Rix, Baron Rix, was a British actor-manager, who produced a record-breaking sequence of long-running farces on the London stage, including Dry Rot, Simple Spymen and One for the Pot. His one-night TV shows made him the joint-highest paid star on the BBC. He often worked with his wife Elspet Gray and his sister Sheila Mercier, who went on to feature regularly in Emmerdale Farm.

Jack Sugden

Jack Sugden is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale. The character was originally played by Andrew Burt from 1972 to 1973 with a brief return in 1976, when the character left for Italy to write a book. On his return in 1980 he was played by Clive Hornby. Hornby stayed in the role until 2008 when he was forced to take a break from Emmerdale due to illness. His last on-screen appearance was on 21 February 2008, and his absence was explained by the character visiting his mother, Annie Sugden in Spain. Although Hornby intended to return to the series he did not recover from his health problems and early July that year died of the illness without returning to the series and Jack died off screen the following year.

Liz Dawn English actress

Sylvia Ann Ibbetson, known professionally as Elizabeth Dawn or Liz Dawn, was an English actress, best known for her role as Vera Duckworth in the long-running British soap opera Coronation Street. First starting on the serial in 1974, she had a recurring role as a factory worker until her husband, Jack, first appeared in 1979. She played the character of Vera for 34 years. For her role in the soap, she received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2008 British Soap Awards. She was appointed an MBE in the 2000 Queens Birthday Honours.

Frazer Hines English actor and cancer survivor

Frazer Hines is an English actor best known for his roles as Jamie McCrimmon in Doctor Who and Joe Sugden in Emmerdale. Hines appeared in 117 episodes of the original series of Doctor Who; only the first four Doctors appeared in more episodes.

Clive Hornby British actor

Clive Hornby was an English actor, known for his part in ITV's Emmerdale Farm as farmer Jack Sugden, and became the longest-serving cast member. He first appeared in Emmerdale Farm on 19 February 1980 in what was originally a three-month contract. During his 28 years on Emmerdale, he became one of the soap's most popular characters.

Jamie Rix is an English children's author.

Joe Sugden

Joseph "Joe" Sugden is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by ex-Doctor Who Companion Frazer Hines. He first appeared on-screen during the soap's first episode broadcast 16 October 1972 and remained in the programme until 1983. After a brief return in the following year, Hines reprised his role on a permanent basis in 1986, a landmark year for the show under Richard Handford. He made his last appearance in August 1994, and subsequently died off-screen the following year.

Ronald Edmund Magill was an English actor. He is best remembered for playing Amos Brearly in the British soap opera Emmerdale Farm from 1972 to 1991, and appeared again in this role in 1994 and 1995.

Leonard Kempinski is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Bernard Archard. He made his first appearance on 15 December 1992 and remained a regular in the programme for just over a year, before his character was killed off in the Emmerdale plane crash of New Year's Eve 1993.

Christopher Smith is an English actor and producer.

Louisa Rix is the daughter of the legendary farce actor Brian Rix and actress Elspet Gray. Louisa studied drama at LAMDA and acted for many years on TV and in the theatre.

The Emmerdale Plane Crash, also known as the Beckindale Air Disaster, was a storyline for British soap opera Emmerdale. It occurred on 30 December 1993, and gave Emmerdale its highest-ever viewing figures of 18 million.

Kathy Glover

Katherine Elizabeth "Kathy" Brookman is a fictional character from the British ITV soap opera, Emmerdale, played by Malandra Burrows. She appeared as a regular character from 1985 until she was axed in 2001 by series producer Steve Frost. She was the show's central character throughout that time. In October 2005 series producer Kathleen Beedles reintroduced the character, when Burrows reprised the role briefly for the funeral of Seth Armstrong. Kathy currently serves as the twentieth longest serving character in the history of Emmerdale.

The Sugdens, are a fictional family in the ITV soap opera Emmerdale. Introduced during the show's conception in 1972, they were the main family for storylines between the 1970s and 1980s and remained as such for many years. The families original unit consisted of widowed farmer Annie Sugden, alongside her children Peggy Skilbeck, Jack Sugden and Joe Sugden. Subsequently these characters went on to produce more generations of Sugdens.


  1. Slide, Anthony (10 March 1996). "Some Joe You Don't Know: An American Biographical Guide to 100 British Television Personalities". Greenwood Publishing Group via Google Books.
  2. "Search Results for Birth, Marriage, Death & Parish Records -".
  3. "Emmerdale matriarch Annie Sugden returns after 15 years to lay son Jack to rest". Daily 3 February 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2015.