|Portrayed by||Colette Mann|
|First appearance||3 May 2012|
|Introduced by||Richard Jasek and Susan Bower|
|Home||26 Ramsay Street|
Sheila Marie 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). Further exploration of the character's background began with the introductions of her children in 2014. 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. She was one of three actresses who auditioned for the part. Mann 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. Mann later explained that she brought in for her comedic abilities, and that she had based some aspects of Sheila's personality on her own mother. 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 personal identification number (PIN), 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.
Two years later, a new love interest for Sheila was introduced in the form of Russell Brennan (Russell Kiefel), the father of the Brennan brothers. As their romance progressed, Kyle became worried that his grandmother would get hurt, while Tyler Brennan (Travis Burns) was not happy that his father planned to stay around for longer. Sheila later proposed that Russell buy the local garage and offered to lend him the money he needed, causing concern from her family and friends. When Sheila saw Angie Rebecchi (Lesley Baker) talking to Russell, she became jealous of their friendship. Angie decided to deliberately flirt with Russell to wind Sheila up. Russell later walked in on the two women "scrapping like teenagers". Baker said the scenes were "great fun" to film, and she and Mann decided to play them up a little as they knew each other well. When it emerged that Russell had physically abused Tyler when he was younger, Sheila had some "frank words" for him. Russell apologised to his son, but it was too late and he returned to Port Lincoln alone.
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.
Family introductions and heart attack
In October 2013, Daniel Kilkelly from Digital Spy reported that Sheila's youngest daughter would be introduced, after producers decided to explore Sheila's background further. Sheila's daughter had previously been mentioned on-screen several times before her arrival, with Sheila still restless about an argument that resulted in a large falling out between them. Morgana O'Reilly was cast as Naomi Canning soon afterwards, and began appearing from March. Naomi and Sheila were seen to clash regularly, as fives years prior Sheila had discovered Naomi's affair with a married man and told his wife. Sheila was pleased to see Naomi, but she was suspicious of her sudden urge to see her. Mann said, "Sheila has learned the hard way that there is always an agenda with Naomi. Nothing is ever as it seems." Sheila later believed Naomi was having another affair and accused her of repeating her past mistakes. However, after Naomi threatened to leave, Sheila promised not to interfere in her life anymore and allowed Naomi to move in. Mann said the producers were "starting to bring in her family over the next six months", and added that "hopefully there'll also be... an older male (coming in)", but warned that Sheila does not get on with him either.
The second of Sheila's children to be introduced was her son Gary (Damien Richardson), Kyle's estranged father. Gary appeared for a guest stint from November 2014. Although bonding with Gary again initially, like she had done with Naomi, Sheila later realised he was intent on fleeing Erinsborough, leaving her to pick up the pieces with Kyle. She also discovered he was responsible for a vicious attack, ordered by Paul Robinson (Stefan Dennis). When she failed to stop Gary fleeing, Sheila suffered a massive heart attack on Christmas Day. Naomi found her mother unconscious on the living room floor and immediately called Karl Kennedy for help. Sheila was rushed to the hospital, where her family waited by her bedside for news of her condition. Naomi initially assumed that she was to blame for causing Sheila's heart attack as she had argued with her mother earlier in the day. However, when Gary turned up, he revealed that it was his fault. A "furious" Naomi then told Kyle that the reason Gary walked out on the family was due to his involvement in a robbery.
Sheila comes to Erinsborough to meet her grandson Kyle's girlfriend, Jade Mitchell. While Kyle is showing Sheila around his business, Sheila meets Kate Ramsay and takes an instant liking towards her. When she finally meets Jade, Sheila is disappointed and tells Kyle that she is not right for him. Sheila believes Kate is a better fit for Kyle and encourages Kate to go after him. Sheila is instantly suspicious of Kyle's business partner, Lou Carpenter. After spotting Lou accepting money from Vera Munro (Marie-Therese Byrne), Sheila tells Vera that Lou has been conning her. Sheila organises a street party for the Queen's Jubilee and she clashes with Paul Robinson . 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. 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. She also gets a job at the local bar.
Sheila and Lou continue to clash, as she does not trust him. Sheila notices that Georgia Brooks has developed feelings for Kyle and warns her off, as she has a boyfriend. They later begin dating. Sheila puts down a deposit for a new apartment at Lassiter's, but when she notices that the council have yet to approve the development, she demands her money back. Sheila finds a garden gnome in the hard rubbish and takes it for her collection. She later finds $10,000 inside it. 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. Sheila takes Rhiannon Bates (Teressa Liane) under her wing, when she briefly moves into Number 26, and help her change her image and get a job. Lou tries to kiss Sheila, which offends her. Sheila forgives him when Bailey and Mason confesses to winding Lou up about her. Sheila meets Walter Mitchell and is attracted to him. However, he cons her out of money at the bar and takes her bank card. Sheila is devastated when she learns that Walter lied about his identity and stole from her neighbours. Walter apologises, but Sheila makes it clear that she does not want to see him again.
Lou believes Sheila is interested in him, as she was leaving him flirty messages on his blog. However, Bailey admits that he left the messages using Sheila's name and she tells him to sort it out. When a sleep walking Chris leaves the house in the middle of the night, Sheila chases after him. Derek Blasko (John Jones) accosts Sheila and follows her in his car, until she tells him to leave her alone. The incident leaves her shaken. When a man takes her picture, Sheila's paranoia causes her to confront him and break his camera. She is informed by a police officer that man was a photography student and she got in the way of his shot. Sheila is initially charged with wilful damage, until she 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 she throws them a surprise engagement party. Sheila's youngest daughter, Naomi arrives in town and it soon emerges that they have not seen each other in five years, due to Sheila interfering in Naomi's affair with a married man. Sheila offers Naomi a room at Number 26 and Naomi makes it clear that she will not stay if Sheila interferes in her life, and Sheila agrees to back off.
Naomi begins working for Toadfish Rebecchi (Ryan Moloney) and Sheila starts to believe that Naomi has set her sights on another married man. She encourages her daughter to find a boyfriend and supports Naomi when she claims she has a stalker. Naomi later kisses Toadie and Sheila finds it hard to talk to her afterwards. Sheila then tells Naomi that she is to blame for her father's death, as he suffered a fatal heart attack when he learned about her affair. Naomi moves out to Number 24 and Sheila gives her a cheque to leave town. Kyle and Georgia try to get them to make up. Sheila remains angry with Naomi and Kyle's bans her from his upcoming wedding. Naomi eventually tells Kyle and Georgia what happened and makes amends with Sheila. After reading an erotic novel, which Lou claims he wrote, Sheila begins fantasising about him. She later dreams of Paul, after they become locked in The Waterhole's store room together. Sheila joins an online dating site and meets Alan Haywood (Paul Roberts). When Alan admits that he has dating profiles on websites looking for men, Sheila breaks up with him for lying to her. Sheila helps Naomi leave Erinsborough for a while to move on from her feelings for Toadie, and is overjoyed when Kyle and Georgia marry.
Sheila meets with her estranged son, Gary, to give him money, but Kyle sees them and seeks answers as he has not seen his father since he was 8. Sheila admits that Gary did not want contact, but Georgia convinces Gary to rejoin the family. Naomi returns and Sheila helps her with her new business venture, organising carols at the Lassiter's Complex. On Christmas Day, Sheila discovers Gary is responsible for an attack on Ezra Hanley (Steve Nation) for Paul. Paul pays him for the attack on the condition he leaves Erinsborough immediately, but the exchange is witnessed by Sheila and she confronts him, telling him to turn himself into the police. Gary refuses and leaves, so Sheila starts to call the police, but she collapses from a heart attack. Naomi finds her and she is rushed to hospital. When Sheila comes home, she experiences more chest pains, but a check-up reveals it is just indigestion. Sheila and Lou clash again over their businesses, so Lauren (Kate Kendall) makes them work together for the Erinsborough Festival. Sheila discovers that Georgia is still taking the pill after she and Kyle agreed to try for a baby, forcing Georgia to admit to Kyle that she is not ready.
Naomi asks Sheila and Susan Kennedy (Jackie Woodburne) to act as judges for the Erinsborough Festival's baking competition, but they soon decide to enter and a rivalry begins. They compete against Janelle Timmins (Nell Feeney), but all three lose out to Karl Kennedy (Alan Fletcher) after their entries are ruined. Sheila worries about Naomi's closeness with Paul, and is disappointed when Naomi ends her relationship with Mark Brennan (Scott McGregor). Ezra Hanley becomes the acquisitions manager for Lassiter's and clashes with Sheila. He demotes her and hires Nate Kinski (Meyne Wyatt) as the new bar manager. After Sheila finds Ezra's plans for redeveloping The Waterhole, she and Nate team up to get on Ezra's good side and learn more about the plans. After Nate is verbally attacked by homophobic customer Alistair Hall (Nick Cain), Sheila intervenes and sends Alistair away. Her rant is caught on camera and uploaded to the internet. Alistair attempts to sue Sheila for defamation, but later backs down when the full clip, featuring his homophobic words towards Nate, is published.
Jimmy Williams (Darcy Tadich) blackmails Sheila into giving him treats after he finds a letter detailing her feelings for Paul. Under pressure, Sheila shakes Jimmy. She later apologises to him after revealing the blackmail. Sheila discovers Terese has been taking wine from The Waterhole and suspects she has a drinking problem. Sheila begins a relationship with Russell Brennan and offers to lend him money to buy the local garage. Sheila reveals that the money was given to her by Gary, and is the proceeds of crime. She decides to hand the money to the police. Sheila fights with Angie Rebecchi when she thinks that Angie is flirting with Russell. After learning that Russell abused his son Tyler, Sheila ends their relationship and tells Russell to seek professional help. Sheila is caught up in the Erinsborough High fire and leaves a paralysed Toadie trapped in the rubble to save herself. In a bid to ease her guilt, Sheila does Sonya and Toadie's laundry. Karl urges her not to push herself as her blood pressure is high, but she later faints after carrying furniture. Sheila explains to Karl how she left Toadie, but he assures her that she would not have been able to save Toadie on her own. Sheila suffers another anxiety attack and accidentally strikes Ben Kirk (Felix Mallard) with her car. She then tells Toadie the truth about the night of the fire and he forgives her. After learning Paul is selling Number 26, Sheila decides to buy it herself. She rents a room out via Airbnb to raise money for a loan. Gary's daughter Xanthe Canning (Lilly Van der Meer) arrives, and Sheila decides to take care of her after learning her mother is missing.
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". Melissa Field from TV Week enjoyed Sheila ripping into Alan when she learned his secret, but quipped "unlucky-in-love Sheila can't get a break." During his end-of-year review, Daniel Kilkelly (Digital Spy) praised Mann as being one of the better additions to the cast and observed that Sheila "has lightened up the Street with wit, warmth and some memorable one-liners." When Sheila met Russell, Claire Crick of All About Soap commented "look out for Sheila in full flirtation mode when she gets to know the new arrival...these two are about to hit it off – big time."
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