Sheila Steafel: Queen of Comedy leaves £35,000 for her beloved dogs

The TV pioneer – who worked with stars including Spike Milligan, Kenny Everett and Tommy Cooper – was never without a pet dog for more than 50 years. She had been married briefly to Steptoe And Son actor Harry H Corbett but was single at the time of her death, aged 84. She left a total estate of more than £1million but outstanding debts and other financial commitments whittled the sum down to £367,000.

Her will, published earlier this month, said she wanted to leave £35,000 to help care for her two cross-breeds, Cassie and Oscar.

South African-born Sheila wanted them to be looked after by either one of her friends, Anne McPhillips or Geoffrey Cohen.

She also left £20,000 to a London charity, All Dogs Matter, and £10,000 each for the National Animal Welfare Trust, Animal Defenders’ International and the Brooke equine charity.

Her former agent Barry Langley said: “She didn’t have any children so her dogs were everything to her.

“They were like her children. “She loved them and she always made sure they were looked after.

“They cost her work once because she fell over one of them and hurt herself. She had concussion. I think she missed a part in Casualty and a big theatre production.

“She was a very generous lady, very lovely, and we all miss her.”

Sheila’s big break came in the 1960s when she appeared on ground-breaking satire The Frost Report, with David Frost.

She was the only regular female performer in sketches with John Cleese and worked alongside Ronnie Corbett and Ronnie Barker in their first ever sketches as a double act.

She also won acclaim for her stage plays with the Royal Shakespeare Company and a role in the 1966 British sci-fi movie, Daleks’ Invasion Earth 2050 AD.

But she was best-known for her television appearances on shows including the Kenny Everett Show and Dave Allen at Large.

In later years, she also appeared in Casualty and Holby City on the BBC.

Sheila, who lived in Cricklewood, in north-west London, left £35,000 to Mr Cohen, £30,000 to Ms McPhillips, and £25,000 to another friend, Jessica Nettleton.

Her car also went to Mrs Nettleton and career memorabilia to the Victoria and Albert Museum or the University of Bristol Theatre Collection.

Mr Cohen was unavailable to comment on the will and Ms McPhillips declined.

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