Ruth Sheen is an English actress. From the late 1980s, she has appeared in British television shows, films and plays. A participant in the films of Mike Leigh, she won the European Film Award for Best Actress for her performance as Shirley in Leigh's High Hopes (1988).

Ruth Sheen
Ruth Sheen at Mr Turner premiere.jpg
Sheen in 2014
Born1950 (age 72–73)
Stepney, London, England
Alma materEast 15 Acting School
Years active1987–present

Early lifeEdit

Sheen was born in Stepney, London. She began her career training at the East 15 Acting School.[1]



Sheen had recurring roles as Nanny Simmons in Berkeley Square (1998) and as Nurse Ethel Carr in the series Bramwell (1995–1998). She also appeared as four different characters in six episodes of The Bill between 1989 and 2004.[2] Also in 2004 she appeared in Agatha Christie’s Marple “The Murder at the Vicarage” as Mrs Tarrant.

She played Maureen Tacy in the series Doc Martin (2002) and appeared as Mrs Jones in the 2007 drama mini-series Fanny Hill, based on the erotic novel by John Cleland.[3][2]

She appeared in Agatha Christie’s Poirot “Elephants Can Remember” (2013) as Madame Rosentelle and in Misfits (TV Series) as Maggie.

Sheen was the titular Elizabeth in "The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge", a 2015 episode of Inside No. 9.[4] She has a supporting role as a pub landlord in the comedy series Brassic (2019–).[5] Also in 2015. she appeared in the TV series Unforgotten as Lizzie Wilton and in 2016 in Midsomer Murders “Saints and Sinners” as Valerie Horton. In 2017, she acted in the TV mini-series Prime Suspect 1973 as Renee Bentley.

In 2021, Sheen featured in the last episode of the miniseries It's a Sin.[6]

In 2022, Sheen appeared as secretary of private investigator C.B. Strike in season five of the series Strike.[7]


Sheen frequently appears in the films of Mike Leigh. She played the female lead in High Hopes (1988), a laughing woman in Secrets & Lies (1996), Maureen in All or Nothing (2002), Lily in Vera Drake (2004), Gerri in Another Year (2010), and Sarah Danby in Mr. Turner (2014).[8][9][10]

High Hopes was her breakthrough role.[10] After Another Year she commented on Leigh's preference for improvisation: "It's a unique way of working... He's quite a hard taskmaster."[11]

She played the mother of the character Jamie in Philip Ridley's 2009 feature film Heartless, and appeared in Welcome to the Punch (2013).[12][13] She played Elsie in the 2016 film adaptation of A Street Cat Named Bob.[2]


Sheen performed in Mike Leigh's play It's a Great Big Shame at the Theatre Royal Stratford East in 1993.[14] She has appeared in Stoning Mary at the Royal Court Theatre, Market Boy at the Royal National Theatre and An Oak Tree at the Soho Theatre, all in London.[14] In 2007, she played Lyn, opposite Ben Whishaw's Steven, in the world premiere of Philip Ridley's stage play Leaves of Glass at the Soho Theatre.[15]


In 1989, Sheen won the European Film Award for Best Actress for the role of Shirley in High Hopes.[16] She was nominated for British actress of the year by the London Film Critics' Circle for Another Year.[17]


  1. ^ "Notable alumni of East 15 Acting School". East 15. University of Essex. Archived from the original on 2 April 2019. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  2. ^ a b c "Ruth Sheen movies, photos, movie reviews, filmography, and biography". AllMovie. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  3. ^ "Fanny Hill – Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure". BFI. Archived from the original on 9 September 2012.
  4. ^ "Inside No. 9, The Trial of Elizabeth Gadge, TV review: Quintessentially barmy British comedy". The Independent. 9 April 2015. Archived from the original on 14 April 2015. Retrieved 11 September 2017.
  5. ^ Polianskaya, Alina (29 August 2019). "Brassic cast: Who stars in the new Sky One comedy". Inews. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  6. ^ ""It's hitting young viewers hard" – Russell T Davies discusses the shattering conclusion to It's A Sin". Radio Times. Retrieved 20 February 2021.
  7. ^ "Meet the cast of Strike: Troubled Blood, season 5 of the BBC drama".
  8. ^ "Review: Mike Leigh Paints His Masterpiece in Mr. Turner". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 3 April 2015. Retrieved 3 March 2017.
  9. ^ Another Year – Ruth Sheen interview. Archived 2014-11-01 at the Wayback Machine Orange Film News 4 November 2010. Retrieved 19 July 2011.
  10. ^ a b "In many ways it could be argued that Essex actress Ruth Sheen owes her career to Mike Leigh". Essex Chronicle. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  11. ^ Walker, Tim (20 October 2010). "Ruth Sheen was relieved to complete filming on 'taskmaster' Mike Leigh's latest film". Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  12. ^ Lodge, Guy (15 March 2013). "Film Review: Welcome to the Punch". Variety. Archived from the original on 8 December 2017. Retrieved 10 December 2017.
  13. ^ Philip French (22 May 2010). "Heartless". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 12 August 2016. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  14. ^ a b "Another Year Press Kit" (PDF). Sony Classics. Archived (PDF) from the original on 15 June 2013. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  15. ^ Lyn Gardner (12 May 2007). "Theatre review: Leaves of Glass / Soho, London". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 2 April 2015. Retrieved 13 December 2016.
  16. ^ "High Hopes". European Film Awards. Retrieved 10 July 2020.
  17. ^ Mitchell, Wendy (21 December 2010). "King's Speech, Another Year lead London Critics' Circle nominations". Screen. Archived from the original on 4 November 2017. Retrieved 10 July 2020.

External linksEdit