Seconds out! It"s the Queen versus Mrs Thatcher in new play about their weekly meetings

Seconds out! It's the Queen versus Mrs Thatcher in new play about Her Majesty's meetings with Prime Ministers

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UPDATED:

01:00 GMT, 2 November 2012

Helen Mirren, in her guise as the Queen, will have a ‘tempestuous relationship’ with Haydn Gwynne, who will be portraying Margaret Thatcher in a new play about the private weekly sessions Her Majesty has with her prime ministers.

That’s according to Matthew /11/02/article-2226586-15CB6C6F000005DC-645_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Haydn Gwynne who will be portraying Margaret Thatcher in a new play” class=”blkBorder” />

Haydn Gwynne will be portraying Margaret Thatcher in a new play

Prime role: Haydn Gwynne, left, will be portraying Margaret Thatcher, right, in a new play about the private weekly sessions Her Majesty has with her prime ministers

Robert Hardy has also been cast as Winston Churchill, the first of the Queen’s dozen prime ministers. Hardy has portrayed the legendary leader several times on screen.

Paul Ritter will portray John Major in a part that’s sure to debunk his so-called ‘grey man’ image. Major has been ‘very helpful’ to director Stephen Daldry and writer Morgan.

Helen Mirren, in her guise as the Queen, pictured, will have a 'tempestuous relationship' with Haydn Gwynne

Helen Mirren, in her guise as the Queen, pictured, will have a 'tempestuous relationship' with Haydn Gwynne

During his time in office, Major paved the way for the Good Friday Agreement and announced the split between Charles and Diana in the Commons.

‘Major has played an intriguing constitutional role and was a vital servant to the Queen,’ /11/02/article-2226586-15CB6B6C000005DC-569_306x423.jpg” width=”306″ height=”423″ alt=”Heroine: Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the title role in Belle, a film based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose mother was an African slave and father was Navy captain Sir John Lindsay” class=”blkBorder” />

Heroine: Gugu Mbatha-Raw plays the title role in Belle, a film based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose mother was an African slave and father was Navy captain Sir John Lindsay

Gugu Mbatha-Raw's gown swept the marble floor as she walked through Osterley House in Isleworth, West London.

The actress plays the title role in Belle, a film based on the true story of Dido Elizabeth Belle, whose mother was an African slave and father was Navy captain Sir John Lindsay, later a rear-admiral.

Dido was raised by her father’s uncle, the Earl of Mansfield (then the Lord Chief Justice), at his home, Kenwood House, in Hampstead. Osterley House is just one of several grand houses standing in for Kenwood.

Belle is being produced by Damian Jones, the man behind the Oscar-winning The Iron Lady, and directed by award-winning Amma Asante. Fast-rising actor Sam Reid plays the handsome lawyer who loves Belle.

You rarely see period films with a black heroine who’s not a slave.

Ms Asante had to admit that she and Gugu ‘and all of the other black little girls who are involved in film, whether it be acting or writing or directing . . . we sit there and watch Jane Austen and we identify with those women, and understand the issues of gender and class, and we love those films’.
But to make them, Asante believed there had to be some context.

‘With Belle, we had to find a way of dealing with issues of substance and depth, and still have the airiness and lightness that costume dramas have,’ she said.

Gugu agreed the film needed a strong political and social storyline, as well as romance. ‘It’s not just “who shall we marry” fluff,’ she explained.

Dominic West rehearses his role as Professor Higgins for
Sheffield’s Crucible Theatre production of My Fair Lady by day, then rushes to
the Royal Court Jerwood Theatre Upstairs at night, where he’s giving one of the
performances of the year in Jez Butterworth’s sublime The River, staged to
perfection by Ian Rickson.

West’s gig at Sheffield, where he’ll appear with
Martyn Ellis as Alfred Doolittle and Carly Bawden as Eliza, means he won’t be
able to move into the West End with The River.

I understand he won’t be free
till late in 2013 — and The River shouldn’t go anywhere without him or his
co-stars Miranda Raison, Laura Donnelly and Gillian Saker.