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Sheila as Annie Sugden in Emmerdale Farm (1972)
|Born||Sheila Betty Rix
1 January 1919
Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England
|Years active||1936–2000, 2009|
|Spouse(s)||Peter Mercier (1951-1993) (his death)|
|Relatives||Brian Rix, younger brother, deceased Elspet Gray, sister-in-law, deceased|
Sheila Betty Mercier (née Rix, born 1 January 1919) is a retired English actress and the elder sister of actor Brian Rix. She was born in Hull, East Riding of Yorkshire, England. She played Annie Sugden in Emmerdale for over 20 years between 1972 and 1994, she made 3 further appearances in 1995, 1996 and 2009.
After education at the French Convent, Hull and Hunmanby Hall, East Riding of Yorkshire, she trained for the stage at the Stratford-upon-Avon College of Drama. Mercier had a long career on stage before her television career. Donald Wolfit had talent spotted her and she toured with Wolfit's own Shakespeare company in 1939. During the Second World War she joined the WAAF division of the Royal Air Force, eventually becoming adjutant. Mercier appeared in supporting roles in a handful of films, and the television series Dial RIX (1963) alongside her husband, Peter Mercier.
She is best known for her role as the matriarch Annie Sugden in the long-running British soap opera Emmerdale. She appeared from the very first episode in 1972 and appeared as a main cast member until 1994 with rare occasional appearances since, notably for on-screen son Joe's funeral in June 1995, along with screen husband Amos Brearly. Aged 89, Mercier appeared in a special programme dedicated to Emmerdale's 5,000th episode, where members of the cast were interviewed. It was transmitted on ITV in May 2008. She has occasionally returned to the series since her departure. On 9/10 February 2009, aged 90, she reprised her most famous role, and made a special guest appearance on Emmerdale as Annie Sugden, attending the funeral of her on-screen son, Jack Sugden (played by actor Clive Hornby, who died the year previously). In July 2008 she was a mourner at Hornby's actual funeral.
Her real-life husband, actor Peter Mercier, died in 1993, after 42 years of marriage. The couple's son, Nigel Mercier (6 December 1954 – 6 January 2017) also worked in the TV industry, initially with BBC Television News at Television Centre as a videotape editor and then at LWT. In 1994 Mercier's autobiography, Annie's Song: My Life & Emmerdale, written with Anthony Hayward, was published. Mercier's brother was actor and campaigner Brian, who was the father of children's author, Jamie Rix.
- "Emmerdale matriarch Annie Sugden returns after 15 years to lay son Jack to rest". Daily Mail.com. 3 February 2009. Retrieved 29 December 2015.