SHEILA STEAFEL originally hailed from South Africa, but realising she couldn’t be heard in England, at the age of seventeen left halfway through a Fine Arts degree, to study at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. RADA turned her down, but the Webber Douglas School, being short of funds, was delighted to accept her. It was here, to the bewilderment of many, including herself that she won the Margaret Rutherford Award for Comedy. At last the final term shows loomed large. Agents and casting directors were invited to marvel at Sheila’s acting skills, setting her on the first rung of the ladder to stardom. Unfortunately the day before the performance she developed highly contagious bout of chicken pox.
Three weeks later, now only itching to begin her chosen career, she browbeat her way into an agent’s office, to be told that she was unlikely to get anywhere until she reached the age of thirty. But did it discourage her? Yes. Nonetheless she persevered, and after several jobs in Repertory, some West End understudying, and a few TV walk-ons, (interspersed with several odd jobs), (some very), she got her first Big Break, joining John Cleese and the Two Ronnies in David Frost’s THE FROST REPORT.
Comedy had claimed her, and from then on she worked with (and sometimes against) most of the well-known TV comics of the sixties. In her own right you may remember her on TV as Ivy (Yes, Mr Cropper?) Watkins in HOW’S YOUR FATHER. No? How about The White Lady in THE GHOSTS OF MOTLEY HALL? Alright then, she made several appearances in THE GOOD OLD DAYS, including that unforgettable of characters, Little Miss Popsy Wopsy! Forgotten, eh? Well, how about Miranda, the glamorous literary agent in YOU MUST BE THE HUSBAND with Tim Brooke Taylor? Tim Brooke…oh come on, you’re just not trying!
No point in mentioning the films she’s been in unless you have a quick eye, so on to just a few of her many acclaimed appearances in the theatre: As Harpo in A DAY IN HOLLYWOOD A NIGHT IN THE UKRAINE, appearing opposite Robert Morley in HOW THE OTHER HALF LOVES , playing Mistress Quickly in the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 1985 ground-breaking production of THE MERRY WIVES OF WINDSOR, and being in three productions during the RSC’s 1995 season: THE RELAPSE, THE DEVIL’S AN ASS, and FAUST. Oh, and there was Peter Hall’s West End production of SCHOOL FOR WIVES, and being David Schneider’s mother in his play ‘THE ELEVENTH COMMANDMENT’ at the Hampstead Theatre Club . And if that wasn’t impressive enough, she has not one, not two, but THREE one woman shows: STEAFEL SOLO, STEAFEL XPOSED and VICTORIA PLUMS. She’s performed them all over the world: Antibes, Adelaide, Istanbul, Saudi Arabia, Basingstoke. And she plans to go on doing them. Till she gets them right.
For more information go to www.sheilasteafel.co.uk
“I finished your lovely book. It packs quite a punch: it’s human, humane, funny, sad, wise, witty, wonderfully self-aware- I enjoyed it hugely.. It’s going on the shelf with my all-time favourites. Truly.” Gyles Brandreth
“I didn’t want to leave it alone I was immersed in your world, your life. I think it’s a fine piece of writing and a compelling autobiography. Sir Arnold Wesker F.R.S.L.