Underground, (only one showing on April 6 at Home) – a classic British film about the lives of working class Londoners. Nell is a shop girl ( a prestigious job at that time), Bert is an Underground porter and Bill works as an electrician. Set in the Underground, which was a much nicer place in the 1920s, we watch as Bert and Bill vie for attractive Nell. Love the scenes in the corridors and carriages of the Underground as people are thrown together in a smokey, intimate closeness. The heady atmosphere of a black and white silent film is captured by the brilliant photography and a music script that channels the drama and fun of the lives of these young people. Nell, played by Elissa Landi, is particularly captivating with her modern look – bobbed hair and short skirts – which make her the epitome of the 1920s woman. Watch trailer at
to Our Gracie, a play about Rochdale’s Gracie Fields at the Coliseum Theatre in Oldham. Before the play I sat in the bar and spoke to some of the theatregoers. They remembered Gracie Fields and wanted to share their stories with me. Gracie came from a working class family in Rochdale and was a half timer; half the time in a mill and half the time at school. But her mother recognised her talents as a singer, comedienne and actress. She was right, and Gracie went on to become one of the most famous northern singers of her generation. During the play it was evident that the audience were in touch with the world it described; of mills, small northern towns and feisty women and men. You could feel the emotion for that past; a sense of being part of a community with Gracie representing a typical Northern lass.
Sue Devaney was exceptional as Gracie, but there were many fine performances by the rest of the cast, including some wonderful singing by Liz Carney. I didn’t grow up in mill towns like Rochdale and Oldham, so I knew little about Gracie Fields, but the play and the audience took me with them on a journey into a past that has now gone. It’s what local northern theatre does best, connecting with the ordinary working class audience that is definitely out there, and should be respected and included in our culture.
the cleaners at Top Shop. They are contract cleaners and cannot earn enough to make a decent life. Read Susanna’s story and support their petition and, if you can afford to, make a donation. It is not just about signing petitions: this is part of a campaign run by independent trade union UVW who have won victories for many low paid workers. See
out about Alice Wheeldon. She was a socialist feminist who lived in Derby. She supported the suffrage movement and campaigned against the First World War through the No Conscription Fellowship. Alice was part of a movement that supported men who refused to serve in the war and, because of that, she was framed by the state for allegedly conspiring to kill the Prime Minister. Alice, her daughter and son-in-law were convicted and sent to prison. For those of us involved with miscarriages of justice campaigns it is not a new story: the recent revelations about the use of undercover cops is just the latest chapter in the story of the state seeking to undermine democratic organisations in this country. Alice’s family are now running a campaign to find out why she was targeted and get justice for the family. Listen to her great granddaughter Chloe Mason speak on 16 March at 2pm at the WCML.
Sheila Rowbotham has written an excellent book on the case Friends of Alice Wheeldon. You can read my review at