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Coronation Street

Up to date as of January 31, 2010

From Coronation Street Wiki

Sheila Crossley
Occupation Factory worker
Born 23rd April 1940
Birthplace Manchester
Residence Sheffield
Father Mr. Birtles
Mother Mrs. Birtles
Spouse(s) Neil Crossley (1966)
Children Danny Crossley
First appearance 4th January 1961
Last appearance 2nd October 1974
Duration 1961, 1962-1963, 1966, 1969, 1974
Played by Eileen Mayers

Sheila Crossley (née Birtles) was a former factory worker at Elliston's Raincoat Factory in the early 1960s. She lived in Coronation Street, but her affair with Neil Crossley left her pregnant and considering suicide when he rejected her in 1963.

Contents

Biography

Born in Manchester to protective parents, Sheila Birtles and her friend Doreen Lostock found work at Elliston's Raincoat Factory in Coronation Street when they left school. Sheila and Doreen were almost always together and enjoyed flirting with the men of the street and going to the disco hoping to meet someone. Sheila was more level-headed than fun-loving Doreen but enjoyed a good time just as much.

In 1962, when her parents moved to the country, Sheila moved into the Corner Shop flat in Coronation Street with Doreen, where the pair regularly hosted parties. She began flirting with shy builder Jerry Booth and agreed to a date with him, but the date was a disaster as the motorcycle Jerry had borrowed fell into a ditch and they had to walk ten miles to get home. Sheila cooled towards Jerry, but asked him not to take things too fast.

Sheila's parents were constantly pressuring her to move to the country to live with them. In 1963, Sheila took on an extra job, helping Jed Stone out on his market stall on Saturdays. People got the wrong idea and thought they were going out, and soon Sheila's parents showed up to have a word with him.

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Neil Crossley

Sheila with admirers Jerry Booth and Neil Crossley

In 1963, Neil Crossley took over as manager of Gamma Garments, where Doreen worked. Neil was a lousy manager and took the shop's takings for himself, but Sheila quickly fell in love with him and paid back money he owed out of her rent money. The neighbours saw Neil for what he really was, including Jerry, who was put out when Sheila dumped him for Neil. Sheila was infatuated with Crossley, but he only thought of her as a bit of fun, and thought nothing of standing her up. When she challenged him about it he hit her and left Weatherfield.

Sheila was in a daze about Neil leaving her, and sunk into depression. She didn't let her friends help her and was sacked from Elliston's when she took too much time off. When she saw Neil, he said he didn't care about her and didn't want to see her again, this was the final straw for her and she locked herself in the flat, intending to kill herself by overdosing on tablets, but she couldn't bring herself to do so and was rescued by Dennis Tanner. She had a breakdown and left the street to live with her parents.

Returns

Sheila turned up again in 1966 when she and Jerry went on a blind date. Sheila was more keen on Jerry this time, but as a friend, and moved into 11 Coronation Street as Elsie Tanner's lodger, and got a job at the new PVC factory across the street. Sheila quickly admitted she was in love with Jerry and confessed she had a son called Danny - Neil had left her pregnant in 1963. Danny had since been adopted by foster parents. Jerry and Sheila wanted to marry, but Jerry was still married to Myra Dickinson - Myra's father was suspicious of Jerry and Sheila's relationship and hired a private investigator, but when Jerry's three-year wedding anniversary passed he was able to start divorce proceedings.

Later in the year, Sheila bumped into Neil Crossley on a train, and realised she felt stronger for Neil than Jerry. Neil asked Sheila to marry him, and the pair left Weatherfield together and got married, leaving Jerry heartbroken again.

Sheila kept in contact with Elsie and was someone she turned to during the difficult patches in her marriage to Alan Howard. Her last visit to Coronation Street was in 1974, when she stayed with Ernie and Emily Bishop. Though he was dating Mavis Riley, Jerry was enamoured with Sheila, making things awkward between them. Sheila went back to Neil after a few weeks and never returned.

Behind the scenes

Sheila and Doreen Lostock first appeared on 4th January 1961, appearing in minor roles until their characters were built up in 1962. Early scripts didn't carry names for them and referred to them as 'the Barm Cake girls'. Sheila and Doreen's friendship has since proved a successful motif for later young characters who have appeared in the show.

Suicide controversy

The Daily Mirror spoils the upcoming plot the day after Episode 287 (11th September 1963) is transmitted.

The scripted scene in Episode 288 was different from what was eventually shown on screen. Originally, Sheila was supposed to go through with her suicide attempt, swallowing tablets and vomiting them into the bin. This was actually recorded, but news of the plot broke in the papers only days before broadcast and Granada was forced to re-record the scene differently because of so many viewer complaints. In the finished episode, Sheila doesn't try to kill herself, instead she sits, traumatised and catatonic. Despite this massive storyline change, only Sheila's scenes were re-recorded, and subsequent episodes were not rewritten, so other characters seem to react to something that didn't actually happen.

Reportedly, actress Eileen Mayers preferred the original version, as she was less able to show off her acting skills in the revised scene, where Sheila is mute and trance-like.

See also


This article uses material from the "Sheila Crossley" article on the Coronation Street wiki at Wikia and is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike License.

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