Following Reported Conflicts With Co-Star Sheila Hancock, Keeley Hawes Departs West End Production of Barking in Essex

By Carey Purcell
30 Dec 2013

Keeley Hawes has quit the West End show Clive Exton's Barking in Essex, according to the Independent.

The departure is credited to conflict between Hawes, who starred as Chrissie Packer, and co-star Sheila Hancock, who played Hawes's mother-in-law. The Independent quoted a source who said Hawes felt Hancock was attempting to control how the cast behaved in certain scenes. Another source was cited who said, "Sheila... kept telling her to project her voice. She said some disparaging things to her such as, 'This isn't TV'." The conflict reportedly escalated into an "arm grabbing" row.

Hawes announced her departure from the production via Twitter Dec. 17, writing, "It is with much regret that I must announce to all ticket holders that I will no longer be performing as Chrissie Packer in Barking In Essex for the remainder of the show. I have been utterly committed to the show to date and I would like to offer my most sincere apologies to those who have purchased a ticket to see me and I hope this does not cause significant inconvenience for anyone affected."

Hawes' film credits include "The Bank Job" and "Death at a Funeral," and her TV work includes "The Ambassadors," "Upstairs Downstairs," "Ashes to Ashes" and "Mutual Friends."

Olivier Award winner and Tony nominee Hancock's stage work includes Entertaining Mr. Sloane, Annie, Sweeney Todd and Cabaret. Her TV credits include "North by Northamptonshire," "New Tricks" and "Fallen Angel."

Here's how Barking in Essex is described:

"Freedom finally beckons for delinquent villain Algie Packer. He's done seven years inside and now he's coming home to spend his carefully stashed cash – £3.5 million in untraceable notes. But there's something Algie's family has forgotten to mention…

"Meet the Packers – just your perfectly average, totally dysfunctional, 'well-dodgy' Essex crime family with a BIG problem. Are they going to be able to cover their tracks before Algie arrives home? Maybe it's time to go on the run…"

The Independent reports that Hawes' understudy, Rachel Marwood, will perform the role of Chrissie Packer for the remainder of the show's run, through Jan. 4, 2014.

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