Veterans of stage and screen reprise their show

Sheila Mathews at her 90th birthday party at Amberley Castle last year
Sheila Mathews at her 90th birthday party at Amberley Castle last year

Actresses Sheila Mathews and Antonia Pemberton first met at Victoria Railway Station, when they were both appearing in West End productions.

Sheila was in Me and My Girl, Antonia in the Jeffrey Archer play Beyond Reasonable Doubt, and they were always rushing to catch the earliest possible train home on the Brighton line, after the final curtain.

Each was nearing the end of their long and successful showbusiness careers, in the theatre, films and on television, so there was much to talk about.

Sheila, from Southwick, retired at the age of 82 and Antonia, from Brighton, at 83.

Sheila received life membership of the actors’ trade union, Equity, in recognition of a career spanning 87 years, making her the longest-serving performer in the entertainment industry. She had made her debut at Alexandra Palace, London, at the age of three and grew up to become one of Prince Philip’s favourite actresses.

Antonia Pemberton was born in Margate, Kent, in 1927. She is known for the films A Passage to India in 1984, Enemy at the Door in 1978 and Microbes and Men in 1974. Since the turn of the century, she has appeared in Doctors, The Bill and Rosemary & Thyme on television.

After a few years of retirement, as Sheila and Antonia approached their 90th birthdays, they began to miss the theatre.

They decided to put together an evening of poetry, play-readings and reminiscences, which they entitled We’re Still Here and staged at Southwick Community Centre in 2016.

Rosemary Bouchy, from Wick Theatre Company, said: “Slick, funny and moving by turns – what a treat it proved to be. So much so that, in answer to popular demand, they are reprising their sell-out performance.

“Sheila is generously donating part of the proceeds to Wick Theatre Company, as she’s been a member since she retired.”

We’re Still Here was originally billed as ‘an irreverent evening of saucy anecdotes and satirical readings’ and Sheila said some of it was ‘a bit near the knuckle’.

Meet Sheila and Antonia, two fabulous 91-year-old veterans of stage and screen, in the Garden Room at Southwick Community Centre, Southwick Street, Southwick, on Tuesday, May 15, at 7.30pm. Doors open at 7pm and entry costs £7.50. Refreshments will be available.