|Portrayed by||Colette Mann|
|First appearance||3 May 2012|
|Introduced by||Richard Jasek and Susan Bower|
|Home||26 Ramsay Street|
Sheila Canning is a fictional character from the Australian soap opera Neighbours, played by Colette Mann. The character was teased by the show's executive producer Richard Jasek in January 2012. The following month Mann's casting was announced. She had previously appeared in the soap in 1995, temporarily taking over the role of Cheryl Stark for eight weeks. Mann made her debut screen appearance as Sheila during the episode broadcast on 3 May 2012. After taking a brief break to appear in a play, Mann was promoted to the regular cast.
Sheila was introduced as the grandmother of established character Kyle Canning (Chris Milligan). She is a widow and the matriarch of the Canning family. She often meddles in her family's business, believing she knows what is best for them. Mann described Sheila as being "pushy, slightly controlling – and a little bit of a gossip", while reporters called her "opinionated" and "over-affectionate". Sheila arrived in Erinsborough to visit Kyle and instantly clashed with his then girlfriend Jade Mitchell (Gemma Pranita). She also developed a rivalry with Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver) and became "smitten" with Walter Mitchell (Chris Haywood). The character has been well received by critics.
During a January 2012 interview with a TV Week writer, Neighbours executive producer Richard Jasek commented that viewers would see more of Kyle Canning's (Chris Milligan) family, starting with the introduction of his grandmother later in the year. Jasek said the character would be quite big in all senses. On 8 February 2012, it was announced Colette Mann had rejoined the cast of Neighbours as Sheila Canning. Mann previously appeared in the show in 1995, when she temporarily took over the role of Cheryl Stark for eight weeks when Caroline Gillmer fell ill. Mann, who is a mother of two, stated that she was looking forward to working with Milligan, saying "Chris is a lovely boy, however like my sons, he'll wonder what has hit him after working with me for a few weeks." Mann made her screen debut as Sheila on 3 May 2012.
Sheila initially started out as a guest character, but eventually become a member of the regular cast. Mann took a short break from Neighbours in July 2012 to appear in a play. Mann said that plans for her to appear in the play had been made before she took on the role of Sheila. Milligan confirmed that Mann had returned to filming in September 2012. In March 2013, Mann commented that she was enjoying working on Neighbours and things had become more natural now that there was a familiarity with Sheila. When asked if she had put her own stamp on Sheila, Mann explained that playing a regular character meant that she got to know them better than anyone and she had subconsciously added layers. She added that the producers and directors allowed her "great leeway" with her lines. In October 2013, Susan Hill from the Daily Star reported that Mann had signed a new contract keeping her with Neighbours for another year.
Before her introduction, Sheila was described by a Herald Sun reporter as being "opinionated" and someone who would ruffle feathers. Susan Hill from the Daily Star commented that Sheila was "over-affectionate", but "lovable". In her newspaper column, Mann called Sheila "a pushy, slightly controlling – and a little bit of a gossip – grandmother." She wrote that she had to do "a great deal of research" as the character is so far removed from her own personality. Mann later told TV Week's Andrew Mercado that Sheila's arrival would be like "a galleon in full sail" and that she loved injecting some humour into the show. A writer for the show's official website revealed that Sheila was a widow who often meddled in her family's business. They explained "If she knows what's best for her kids and grandkids – and she always does – she'll do whatever it takes to achieve it, even if that means being underhanded."
Mann told an Inside Soap writer that Sheila was the matriarch of the Canning family, who loved her grandson Kyle "very much". The actress suspected that Kyle was actually Sheila's favourite. Sheila likes to know what is happening to everyone else around her and is more than willing to offer her advice if it is asked for. The writer stated that while Sheila is not intellectual, she does have good instincts and "a sharp sense of humour". However, she is quick to make judgements about other people and has no time for political correctness. In March 2013, Mann called Sheila "a tough old bird" and quipped that she has some endearing characteristics, but they can be harder to find. The actress also branded the character "a first-class meddler" and stated that she often speaks her mind, which is one of the only things Mann has in common with her.
Interfering in Kyle's love life
After deciding to visit her grandson Kyle, Sheila turns up unannounced on his doorstep and is "thrilled" to see him. Mann thought that Sheila was getting sick of waiting for Kyle to visit her in Frankston, so she came to him instead. Sheila was also interested in meeting Kyle's girlfriend, Jade Mitchell (Gemma Pranita). Mann said that Sheila had already heard a few things about Jade and had made her mind up about her already; she was the wrong girl for her grandson. While looking around Kyle's handyman business, Sheila meets Kate Ramsay (Ashleigh Brewer) and mistakes her for Jade. Impressed by Kate's manners and politeness, Sheila is then left to wonder whether Kate should be "in her precious grandson's life" instead. When Sheila finally meets Jade, she is underwhelmed by her brashness and does not hold back her opinion towards her.
Jade becomes frustrated and her attitude convinces Sheila that the conservative Kate is really the one for Kyle. A show spokesperson commented "Sheila adores Kyle and would do absolutely anything for him, which rubs Jade up the wrong way. Everyone can expect the sparks to fly between the two women in his life. It's going to be a very tricky time for Kyle as he tries to please them both." Sheila informs Kyle that Jade is not marriage material and that Kate would be better for him. Sheila decides to meddle in Kyle's love life, but Mann believed that it was out of love as Sheila just wanted Kyle to be happy. Although Sheila does not get on with Jade, she decides to stay around to keep an eye on Kyle.
When Kyle starts spending time with Georgia Brooks (Saskia Hampele), Sheila becomes concerned that Georgia is trying to seduce him, even though she has a boyfriend. When asked whether Sheila would warm to Georgia, Mann replied that everyone "goes through a screening process with Sheila", but because family means a lot to her, her grandson's welfare always comes first. She gives anyone who becomes close to him a hard time for a while. After accusing Georgia of leading Kyle on, Sheila encourages her grandson to pursue a relationship with Jana Noviac (Kyrie Capri). Sheila also clashes with Georgia's aunt, Angie Rebecchi (Lesley Baker), who has noticed the sexual tension between Georgia and Kyle too. The two women end up defending their families.
Sheila has developed a rivalry with Lou Carpenter (Tom Oliver), but when questioned about a potential romance between the characters, Mann thought it would be best if they stayed "at each other's throats". She said that the rivalry would provide the writers with more scope in terms of humorous storylines for the pair. Mann added that she and Oliver had already had a romance when she filled in as Cheryl Stark, who was Lou's partner. Later episodes hinted at a spark between Sheila and Lou. Jasek was also asked if he would like them to embark on a romance and explained that it was an interesting idea and one that was still being discussed. He continued "We have certainly thought of putting them together – it's an obvious direction to go in – however I think the best humour comes from their constant sparring with each other and some of their stories coming up are just hilarious." In October 2013, Mann reiterated that Sheila and Lou should not be put together, believing that their relationship was better when they were fighting.
In March 2013, Mann teased the arrival of a potential love interest for Sheila, saying "her attention is somewhat diverted by a visitor to Erinsborough." In June 2013, Walter Mitchell (Chris Haywood) was introduced to the show and Digital Spy's Daniel Kilkelly reported that one of the local Ramsay Street residents would become "smitten" with him. Shortly after meeting Sheila, Walter "flirts outrageously" with her, which she reciprocates. Walter later embarks on a plan to steal Sheila's PIN number, so he can access her bank account. Sheila is "clueless" as she is charmed by Walter's "romantic overtures" towards her. Walter later packs his bags and departs Erinsborough, leaving his niece and Sheila devastated. Mann said she enjoyed having Walter in Sheila's life and called him "a bit of a rotter", noting that no one can be happy for too long in Erinsborough. Mann commented that a women does not need a man to be happy and she believed Sheila was happy on her own.
During a story meeting, Mann asked why her character was not given a dramatic storyline and the writers agreed that she should have one. Sheila's storyline was tied up with Chris Pappas's (James Mason) story. When Chris takes some sleeping tablets and leaves the house while sleepwalking, Sheila chases after him dressed only in a nightie, a dressing gown and a pair of Ugg boots. During the chase, Sheila is approached by Derek Blasko (John Jones) in his car and he tries to solicit her, which she dislikes. Sheila initially dismisses the event, but a few days later when she thinks about it, she reacts badly. Because of the restrictive time slot in Australia, Derek was not allowed to be shown approaching or touching Sheila. Mann explained "I said, 'Look, this is all a bit silly. Sheila is a tough old nut so she'd probably just tell him to get lost and keep walking!' There wasn't much we could do about it because of the restrictions, so then we decided that it will come out further in a story, much later on, that this reminded her of a time when a much worse thing happened to her. Back when she was younger and managing the hotels in Frankston, she was attacked by two men in the back car park." Mann said the next layer of the story would play out in a few months time and it would see Sheila suffer flashbacks, which become "really bad". Sheila refuses to talk about it and Mann added that the point they are trying to make is that it is best to talk about things.
Sheila comes to Erinsborough to visit her grandson, Kyle, and meet his girlfriend, Jade. While Kyle is showing her around his business, Sheila meets Kate Ramsay, who she likes. When she finally meets Jade, Sheila is disappointed and tells Kyle that she is not the right girl for him. Jade impresses Sheila when she stands up for herself, but Sheila tells Kate that she is a better fit for Kyle. When Sheila meets Kyle's business partner, Lou Carpenter, she is instantly suspicious of him. After spotting Lou accepting money from Vera Munro (Marie-Therese Byrne), Sheila learns Lou has been conning her and tells Vera the truth. Sheila encourages Kate's crush on Kyle and advises her to tell him how she feels. When Kyle goes away, Sheila stays to keep an eye on his business. She organises a street party for the Queen's Jubilee, where she clashes with Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis). A few weeks later, Sheila returns and discovers that Kyle kissed Kate, causing Jade to end their relationship. After witnessing how unhappy Kyle and Jade are, Sheila tries to help them get back together. She admits to Kyle that she encouraged Kate to go after him and he tells her to go home.
Kyle contacts his Sheila for support when he learns that Lou stole $8000 from the business. Sheila struggles to forgive Lou. A few months later, Sheila comes to collect her youngest grandson, Harley (Justin Holborow) and take him home to his mother. When she sees the state of Number 26, she tells Kyle and his housemates that she is moving in to sort it out. Sheila gets a job as a barmaid at Charlie's bar and instantly clashes with Natasha Williams (Valentina Novakovic). When Lou's daughter Lauren (Kate Kendall) moves into Ramsay Street with her family, Sheila immediately tells her about Lou's debts and his time as an escort, angering Lou. Sheila notices Kyle and Georgia Brooks developing feelings for one another and warns Georgia off, as she has a boyfriend. Sheila puts down a deposit for one of the planned apartments at Lassiter's. But when she notices that the council have yet to approve the development, she asks for her money back. Sheila finds a garden gnome in the hard rubbish and takes it for her collection. She finds $10,000 inside it and spends some of the money. When Sheila catches Bailey (Calen Mackenzie) and Mason Turner (Taylor Glockner) in her garden, they explain that the money in the gnome belongs to Lou and she gives him the money.
Paul promotes Sheila to manager of Charlie's and she hires Pete Clark (Paul Cousins) as a new barman, but sacks him when she catches him selling drugs. Rhiannon Bates (Teressa Liane) briefly moves into Number 26 and Sheila takes her under her wing. She helps Rhiannon to change her image and get a job. Sheila and Georgia try to take care of Kyle when he damages his eyesight during an eclipse, but he just becomes frustrated. While chatting about family, Sheila encourages Lou to contact his estranged daughter. Lou later tries to kiss her, which offends Sheila and leaves Lou fearing he has ruined their friendship. Sheila forgives him when Bailey reveals that he and Mason were winding Lou up about her. Sheila meets Walter Mitchell and is instantly attracted to him. However, he cons her out of money for a breakfast and takes her bank card. Walter suddenly leaves town and Sheila is devastated when she learns that he has been lying about his identity and stealing from her neighbours. Walter comes back to apologise, but Sheila makes it clear that she has no interest in seeing him again. She later admits to Kyle that she liked feeling wanted by a man again.
Lou returns from seeing his daughter overseas and believes Sheila is interested in him, as she was leaving him flirty messages on his blog. However, Bailey confesses to Sheila that he left the messages using her name and she tells him to sort out the mess. When Chris leaves the house while sleep walking, Sheila chases after him. Derek Blasko (John Jones) accosts Sheila and asks if she want any company. Derek follows Sheila and she tells him to leave her alone. The incident leaves her shaken and paranoid that she is being followed by Derek. She later confronts a stranger taking photographs, breaking his camera in the process. Senior Constable Kelly Merolli (Maya Aleksandra) tells Sheila that the man, Stavros Alkinos (Peter Berzanskis), is a mature photography student and she accidentally got in the way of his shot. Sheila is charged with wilful damage to Stavros's camera, but the charges are dropped when Sheila pays for a new camera and writes a letter of apology. Kate then convinces Sheila to enrol in a self-defence class. Sheila encourages Kyle to propose to Georgia and when the couple get engaged, Sheila throws them a surprise engagement party. She is disappointed when she realises that some Canning family members will not come because of her.
Sheila is surprised when her youngest daughter, Naomi (Morgana O'Reilly) arrives in town, but allows her to stay with her. Sheila confides in Susan (Jackie Woodburne) that when she found out Naomi was having an affair with a married man, she did not approve and told the man's wife. Sheila suspects Naomi is keeping secrets from her and accuses her daughter of repeating her past mistakes. Naomi leaves the house, but later returns and makes up with mother.
An Inside Soap columnist stated "It's been a while since Ramsay Street was home to a good old stickybeak, but that changes when Sheila Canning arrives". Geoff Shearer from The Courier-Mail commented "Former Prisoner Colette Mann is continuing to delight since joining the series as Kyle's grandmother Sheila late last month." Claire Crick from All About Soap quipped "Sheila doesn't exactly strike us as someone who beats around the bush". A reporter for the Belfast Telegraph called Sheila a "busybody". Dianne Butler, writing for news.com.au, praised the character and actress, saying "That Sheila's a canny old biddy. She's outfoxing Tash, who's pretty wily herself. I'm loving Colette Mann." In June 2013, Butler quipped "Sheila did time on Prisoner so I say what Sheila wants she should get." Jaci Stephen from the Daily Mail branded Sheila a "nosey old busybody".
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- Character profile at the Official AU Neighbours website
- Character profile at the Official UK Neighbours website