Sheila Grant in the first ever episode, 1982
|Portrayed by||Sue Johnston|
|Duration||1982–90, 1997, 1998|
|First appearance||2 November 1982|
|Last appearance||21 September 1990|
|Created by||Phil Redmond|
|Brookside:Friday the 13th (1998)|
Sheila Grant (also Corkhill) is a fictional character from British soap opera, Brookside played by Sue Johnston. Sheila appeared in Brookside from the first episode in 1982 until the character's departure in 1990. Her most famous storyline was in 1986, when the character was attacked, raped and beaten by an unknown assailant. Everyone was a suspect, including family friend Matty Nolan (Tony Scoggo) and most residents of Brookside Close found themselves accused of attacking Sheila. It was later revealed that the taxi driver raped Sheila.
The Grant family consisted of Bobby Grant, Sheila Grant, Barry Grant, Karen Grant and Damon Grant. The Grant family appeared in the first episode (although Karen Grant was not shown on screen) and were the first to move into the new houses on Brookside Close. Prior to moving onto Brookside Close, the Grant family were from a run-down inner-city council estate, however through Bobby and Sheila's thrift they had managed to move to the 'middle class' Brookside Close.
Sheila was portrayed as a devout Roman Catholic, and as such her views were often to come into conflict with the socialist views of her husband.
After Bobby had spent his first months of Brookside Close fighting to save his job and 200 others at Fairbanks Engineering, Sheila is the one made redundant in 1983. In an attempt to occupy herself she joined Annabelle Collins' Ratepayers Association and forged an unlikely friendship with her. The two however disagree when Sheila nominated Roger Huntingdon as chairman instead of Annabelle and when they clash over what type of group it should be with Annabelle wanting it to be an apolitical group bringing issues such as hedges and refuse collection to the attention of the council while Sheila wanted to use it to campaign about the poor standard of schooling in the area and the lack of jobs for their children.
The rape of Sheila Grant
In 1986, the most notable story line regarding Sheila was broadcast. The story was written in order to keep Sue Johnston on the soap, who had previously expressed an interest in leaving. In 1986, Sheila was raped while walking home from a pub, following her ordeal she bathed, removing any evidence that could have incriminated her attacker. There were three suspects; former friend Matty Nolan who was furious with her for wrecking his marriage by telling his wife he'd been having an affair, neighbour Pat Hancock who had gotten drunk after a violent argument with this girlfriend and couldn't remember what he'd been up to and lecturer Alun who had unsuccessfully tried to initiate an affair. However it soon emerged that none of them were guilty, and the rape had been committed by the taxi driver who had just dropped Sheila off.
In 1984, Sheila, by now well over 40, became pregnant with her and Bobby's fourth child. Their daughter Claire was born on 8 January 1985 - the very first baby to be born in the series, more than two years after its inception.
However, the downside to this was that parenthood so late in life put pressure of the Grant's marriage.
Break up of the Grant family
The Grant family started to break-up in 1987, first with Karen leaving to go to university in London. Then in November 1987 Damon was stabbed and died on Lendal Bridge in York. Sheila persuaded Barry not to go after revenge (something he didn't do until 2003 when Damon's murderers were released and he left the Close to track them down) but the strain this put on her caused a rift between her and Bobby. After months of tension Bobby left Sheila and left the soap in 1988.
Repossesion and Relationship with Billy Corkhill
Despite Barry and Sheila's best efforts, without Bobby's wage they fall behind with the mortgage repayments and their home is repossessed. Sheila is devastated by this as the home represents everything she and Bobby had worked for, as she later confided to a priest "I know we are not supposed to value material things but it's different, it's a home". Barry lived in a Volkswagen camper van while Sheila moved into friend Billy Corkhill's house with Claire.
Sheila spends Christmas with Billy and the two get on well. Later when Debbie McGrath comes around with Simon, Sheila's grandson (whom Sheila thought was miscarried due to a lie from Debbie's father), Sheila, Billy and Debbie take him to the park and Sheila and Billy grow closer. On Christmas evening, Billy gives Sheila her present, some rosary beads which he had bought from the Cathedral, knowing how important her Catholic religion was to her. Billy also buys a set for Claire.
Sheila goes to confide in a priest she does not know about her failed marriage with Bobby, her repossession and meeting Debbie (whom she refers to as Damon's wife) and her grandson Simon. She does not mention Billy to him, although infers his presence. That night Sheila goes missing from Billy's house and he finds her having broken into her boarded up old home, sitting in Damon's old room remembering him and the happy times she had had in that house.
Feeling she is still married to Bobby in the eyes of the church and her growing relationship with Billy is sinful, Sheila insists of leaving, although Billy tells her that his home is her home and tells her she is more than welcome. Nonetheless Sheila is intent on leaving.
On New Year's Eve however Sheila slips out of a party early to be with Claire. Billy follows her and the two kiss, starting a relationship between them.
After Bobby's departure, Sheila began a relationship with Billy Corkhill. The couple married in September 1990 and left Brookside to live in Basingstoke, Hampshire selling Number 10 Brookside Close to Billy's son Rod and his wife Diana.
Sheila Corkhill returned without Billy in the straight-to-video specials The Lost Weekend in 1997. She returned again the following year once again in the straight-to-video special, Friday the 13th. She returned to attend the wedding of her niece-in-law Lindsay Corkhill and Peter Phelan, however she became caught up in trouble when her brother-in-law Jimmy is pursued by drug-dealers intent on killing him. Here she reveals to sister-in-law Jackie Corkhill that she and Billy have split up after an argument over Billy's ex-wife Doreen Corkhill, although Jimmy mentioned that Billy and Sheila were "still together" in a conversation with neighbour Diane Murray in 2001. This was either a continuity error, or Billy and Sheila are presumed to have reconciled.
The character was selected as one of the "top 100 British soap characters" by industry experts for a poll to be run by What's on TV, with readers able to vote for their favourite character to discover "Who is Soap's greatest Legend?"
- Graham Kibble-White; Phil Redmond (2002-11-04). 20 Years of Brookside. p. 17. ISBN 9781842227640.
- Graham Kibble-White; Phil Redmond (2002-11-04). 20 Years of Brookside. p. 23. ISBN 9781842227640.
- Robert Butler (1995-02-05). "The man who raped Sheila Grant - Arts & Entertainment". The Independent. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Brookside Facts-3". Brooksidesoapbox.co.uk. Retrieved 2012-11-20.
- "Who is Soaps' Greatest Legend?". What's on TV. IPC Media. Retrieved 8 July 2012.