SHEILA HANCOCK is a well-respected star of the stage and screen who has been entertaining television, cinema, West End and Broadway audiences for more than 50 years.

The proud recipient of an Olivier Award and an OBE, Hancock received an honorary degree from the University of Portsmouth in 2005 for her services to drama.

Hancock's big break came in 1962 when she appeared in comedy series The Rag Trade.

Since then she has moved from screen and theatre acting to directing, becoming the first women artistic director at the Royal Shakespeare Company.

She is also active in the fight against breast cancer having survived the disease herself.

Her book about her 28-year marriage to actor John Thaw - who died of cancer in 2002 - won the British Book Awards Author of the Year award.

Name: Sheila Hancock Date of Birth: February 22, 1933 Occupation: Actress and author local link: Born on Isle of Wight and is Chancellor of The University of Portsmouth