Nothing really grabbed me on Neighbours this week – Dee and Andrea’s DNA results were pretty predictable, and honestly the least said about Roxy’s histrionics, the better. The only other storyline that’s been interesting for me has been the whole Amy/Gary/Kyle love triangle, but truthfully the best part of that has been Sheila. I haven’t got much to say about Amy’s dilemma (I’d definitely pick Kyle over Gary the disastrous man-child, it’s not even a decision), so instead I thought I’d write about Sheila because she’s one of my favourites, and I don’t feel like she gets enough love.
In Soapland, it can be very tempting to have a cast of young, incredibly hot people, and then have one older character to use as a grumpy, disapproving plot device. I’m specifically thinking of Alf Stewart in ‘the other soap’ here, and in Ramsay Street’s past there was Mrs Mangel. Thankfully, the Neighbours creators have never gone down that road with Sheila, played by the fabulous Colette Mann. Yes, she’s a little bit older than most of the rest of the cast, but she’s no ancient battleaxe – she’s glamorous, vibrant and active, and really good fun.
Sheila might not have traditional booksmarts, although she did go back to school to get her qualifications recently, but she is whip smart. Her little wobble of confidence over whether she was clever and sophisticated enough when she starting dating Clive was a lovely storyline for her, and I’m so glad she decided the best course of action was just to be unapologetically Sheila. Because why wouldn’t you? She understands people, and she also seems to be one of the few folks in Erinsborough who actually bothers going to work regularly, rather than just wafting uselessly around at Harold’s drinking lattes. Sheila gets stuff done, even if the ‘stuff’ she’s doing is mostly meddling in her family’s lives.
I can’t say I blame her for meddling really. Kyle’s nice enough, but he’s a bit dim, and Gary is just clinically useless. Quite how someone like Sheila managed to bring up a son like Gary is a little bit of a mystery to me, because I certainly wouldn’t have misbehaved if she was my mum, so I’m not sure why he went so off the rails. I mean, she’s kind of terrifying. These days Gary’s not so much a criminal any more, he just really excels at making comically terrible decisions, and he always seems to leave poor Sheila trying to fix whatever fine mess he’s got himself into this time.
Most of the time Sheila is stuck between a rock and a hard place – if she meddles and her family find out she’s been meddling, the proverbial will hit the fan, but if she does nothing, she just has to sit back and watch her dopey relatives wander towards imminent disaster, and that’s just not the kind of woman Sheila is.
I love how gutsy she is, and I absolutely love how funny she is too. She’s a glamorous woman, but she is just the right level of brassy to be able to get away with delivering some of the most hilarious lines on Neighbours. Her calling Paul ‘Moneybags’, or just ‘Bags’, never gets old, and I adore her straight talking. Sheila does not suffer fools gladly, she gives them a no-nonsense pep talk and then shoves them, blinking in the sunlight, back out of the door of The Waterhole to go and sort their lives out. I wish she’d come and sort my life out for me…
Basically, what I’m saying is that I love Sheila and I think I might want to be her when I grow up. I reckon we could all get a lot more done in life if we just tried to be a bit more Sheila.