This is the fourth interview from the Springers AOD “Made in Dagenham” cast
Introducing Anvers Anderson as Harold Wilson & Helen Quigley as Barbara Castle
TL: Anvers and Helen, Can you tell us a little bit about the Characters you are playing in Made In Dagenham?
Anvers: Ok, I’m playing Harold Wilson, I really respect him in most respects, not just for what he did but his intellect too. I was really impressed with his involvement with ‘I’m backing Britain’. I remember the Campaign, we had little badges and he asked everyone, mostly secretaries to work an extra ½ hr a day for free to get economy back on its feet. He was also smart enough to know when his Alzheimer’s was affecting his intellectual prowess, so he stepped back without saying anything and it was the right time to stand down. This show actually shows him as a bit of light entertainment and a bit fluffy which is a lot of fun to play and I’m really looking forward to the reactions of the audience. The reactions will be two-fold – the big Labourites will say this is not the way he should have been portrayed and the ladies may react because of some of his sexist comments
Helen: …but then you walk into a cupboard
Anvers: (laughing) yes I walk into a cupboard and make a real idiot of myself, But its great fun and a great part to play looking forward to getting stuck into it. And I really enjoy the song.
Helen: And I’m Barbara Castle. She was something of an iconic figure and a bit before my time – I didn’t realise how much of an impact she had back then, bringing in seat belt laws and she was very instrumental in getting the equal pay act through. She’s not on much but when she is on there is a lot to say and she makes a big impact which is one of the reasons I wanted to do it. She’s not very tolerant of Harold
Anvers: No. She’s not very tolerant of him but they work together, really closely.
Helen: They did yes and that shows in this a bit and they have a bit of pop at each other quite a bit, which clearly would have happened behind closed doors. I wanted to do the show as I’d seen it in the west end and I’m a great fan of David Arnold’s music and I wasn’t sure what part to go for and remember the Barbara Castle part but because she’s older than me I ruled it out. Then a friend said the song she sings is great, it’s a ‘Helen’ song so I listened to it and went yes that’s great. And it helps that we are both northerners
Anvers: Yes, we are both northerners!
Helen: So, it’s appropriate that we are both playing northern parts.
Anvers: Another thing about Harold was that he did smoke a pipe but he did smoke cigarettes too but the really interesting thing was he used his pipe for thinking time. As if he was just doing his pipe but it allowed him time to think of his answer which is very smart I think. Not that I intend to take up the pipe.
Helen: The one thing I found interesting about Barbara in this show is that she does have to walk a line between supporting the women and sticking to the government line and that must have been quite difficult at the time
Anvers: She did have to do it at the time and she was brilliant a really effective MP
TL: So How does Made in Dagenham compare to other musicals around at the moment?
Anvers: Although it is relatively new, I don’t think we could have chosen a better time to do it with the 50yrs/100yrs anniversaries and we are still debating it today about, equality in big institutions like the BBC. It’s definitely different from Les Miserables or My Fair Lady, as it’s a modern musical just not quite as modern as Hamilton
Helen: Or kinky boots which opened in London at the same time
TL: Why should people get tickets to see it?
Helen: Because it’s a musical about Essex, in Essex. Dagenham is just down the road from us.
Anvers: And a huge amount of people worked for Ford in the area and the old Ford training building is just down the road, a lot of people worked for them
TL: What do you think is the best bit of the show so far?
Helen: I’m loving the interplay between the family, You get a feeling that it is a real family. The kids are great and the mum and dad are just playing their parts brilliantly. On top of all of that, the vocal aspect has just some fabulous harmonies – so powerful.