MAKING MY MARK book launch on 2nd July, 2023
On July 2 2023 I launched my careers memoir, MAKING MY MARK. It was held in a local restaurant near my flat in an upper room over-looking the Thames. I was so delighted to see so many of my family, friends and ex-colleagues on the day that I had been working towards for a number of years.
First, in my speech, to the assembled 30 or so people, I’d introduced my family…
Freddy, my son of whom I am so proud. A dedicated teacher & NEU branch secretary who is currently organising the strikes for decent pay! His rap poetry is fantastic. He was a miracle baby, having been saved by an NHS midwife, Yvonne – who after many hours in labour, insisted I was rushed off for an emergency Caesar. Keren, an old friend of mine who was there, reminded me I stuck up a poster in St Thomas’ hospital window which was right opposite the Houses of Parliament – FUCK OFF THATCHER!
Danielle, his immensely talented partner, who was a Bafta nominated and award winning producer at a very young age! She has a penchant for very tricky subjects, like sex trafficking, domestic violence, anorexia and murder! She is now a director working on a big series in the USA!
Myles, my step grandson, a highly imaginative and resourceful young man who is forging a career in the fashion business. I know he will go far…
Lydia, my surrogate daughter, also a creative, whose strong and independent mother, Beth was my best friend at grammar school in Kingston. We met on the 219 bus every day from Hersham. We got up to all sorts! Hanging with the beatniks in Kingston church yard after school! At Walton Hop, with the bands. Dylan was the backdrop to our escapades. Beth was brilliant – and a dedicated scholar. By 13, I had discovered boys and failed dismally at science and maths subjects but excelled in Geography & English! Much later we met by chance and it was like nothing had changed. Sadly she died of cancer in April 2021. I have tried to fill the gap for Lydia...
Nick, my lock down lover, who devoted many years of his working life to protecting children as a social worker, then assessing families for adoption or fostering. A demanding task requiring insight, tact and skill. He is now a counsellor helping others to understand themselves and overcome mental health issues. I respect him very much. Nick has given me such joy and has been caring & patient – for most of the 4 years we have shared!
My other surrogate daughter Char, is another award winning filmmaker. She lives in California, is brave and clever enough to be anywhere at this moment - having filmed in North Korea and all over the globe.
My own sister LOUISE - who couldn’t be here. She was too ill to travel. Sadly we have not been close for much of my life. Her husband KEIR is a delight.
ANNE, my dear friend who I met when I was 12, is like a sister to me. She is unfortunately in hospital with multiple issues – waiting for surgery…but she is so positive, it lifts my spirit…
Susan, Hazel, Maggie, and Kimia, all in the book, couldn’t make it today. Nor, Mary C or Ali – both dear friends.
But look at all the sisters I have here! I owe many thanks to Marianna. When I admitted in 2018 that embarking on my memoir was daunting as I couldn’t remember enough to write it, she suggested I audio-record conversations with my women friends to help jog my memory! Brilliant! Extracts from 18 transcripts are included in my book. Later I found tons of documents in the roof – my diaries and contracts for work - so I was able to be accurate without relying on memory.
Let me introduce TONY WARDLE - who for many years was my partner in Vanson Wardle Productions. A great researcher, journalist, interviewer and writer. He and I met in 1979 and began with non- broadcast charity videos and training videos & packs for social services staff. Then 2 about vegetarianism for a charity called VIVA! We both turned veggie immediately! It is now Europe’s largest vegan campaigning charity. There are an estimated 3 million UK citizens who are vegetarian and vegan. Tony made HOGWOOD - a modern horror story, against animals being slaughtered for meat. It’s on Netflix and has won many awards.
Vanson Wardle expanded into broadcast docs for C4 and later the BBC and ITV.
One of the most important series was Kentucky Fried Medicine exposing the private heath multinationals in the USA. And warning what would happen to our NHS if we took that route. Unfortunately Blair began the slide into privatisation…and Sunak continues…
I am still a radical socialist and feminist who dislikes labels! I have been involved in fighting for equality from the early 70s. For equal pay, workplace creches, reproductive rights, against the glass ceiling, when in Equity, the actors union. My friend Paula was there too, a dedicated campaigner.
It was in the late 80’s that I was active on committees in BECTU, the broadcasting union, against 12 hour days (which we lost) and for decent working practices.
Vanson Wardle Productions won a major Royal Television Society award for our ground breaking documentary series Making Advances about sexual harassment at work in the 90s.
There is a long list of the docs and the reviews on my website. We won many awards! And never sold out our principles.
I also want you to meet Arthur & Tina Critchlow – they have travelled all the way from Yorkshire to be here today. I met Arthur 40 years ago during the trial in Sheffield when the first batch of 12 of 95 miners were charged with riot. They faced life in prison. It was nerve racking.
By June 1986 I was filming The Battle for Orgreave. Recreating the events of June 18 1984. Arthur is an honest and brave man who was horribly beaten with a cosh wielded by a riot policeman. He was hospitalised for 2 weeks and had fluid drained from his head. His interview is certainly the most important and moving I have ever undertaken. Poor Tina was so distraught when she saw him, she cried and cried. It was a trauma from which Arthur and the other miners have never fully recovered. With a great defence team – the case collapsed after 48 days. The police lied, but the jury saw through that and found them NOT GUILTY! (At this point, me and my audience were in floods of tear)….
Arthur and I have been comrades ever since. We are currently working on a 40 year anniversary documentary for Channel 4 with Swan Films.
I later switched to dramas – becoming Executive Producer on Doomwatch, an exciting science thriller with Peter Lee-Wright as Producer, which had great reviews. The last film I made was The Murder of Stephen Lawrence – which won the best TV drama BAFTA in 2000. Only this week the sixth man who was involved in the murder has been revealed – his brother came forward after he had died, aged 50. He was the gang leader and vicious. Duwayne Brooks, Stephen’s friend who was there, always insisted there were six. But no-one but the defence lawyers would believe him.
So looking around the room – what do I see? A wonderful group of friends - I’ve known Keren for 53 years – from drama school in Cardiff and others like Novia, my ex-trainer and house sitter and Antonio, a fabulous jazz guitarist - for 40! Lavinia who worked for me as my PA in the early 1990s has been a friend for 30! I met Charlie & Mary when Freddy and Tom played football together around 28 years ago! Freddy is a huge Arsenal fan – as was my father. They came second in the league this season and Newcastle, who Danielle supports, came third! Freddy still plays. His team, Tippy, won the league and the cup this season!
Welcome Rowena, my excellent financial advisor who I found in the Yellow Pages many moons ago and her partner Hugh. Dawn & Nigel, ex- neighbours; Eric, my friend and support at Pauls Cancer Centre with his partner Jonathan; Yvonne & David, friends of Nick…
I have always been a proud socialist and an internationalist - and the thing I love about London is that it’s a magnet for all nationalities!
So we have Mariana who is half North Macedonian, James, an actor friend, is Irish, Antonio is Italian, Marguerite is French, Keren is Welsh, Eric is German…
According to my DNA – I am 13% from Germany & Netherlands, 9% Welsh! At least 6% Jewish from Belarus, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania & Ukraine! (this caused a burst of laughter!) My granny was a German/Jewish cockney and from my father’s side I am a quarter French! The rest from Kent, but I’ve never felt English, always more French… just 2% according to Ancestry! It just shows how wrong DNA can be! It’s what you feel that matters!
I love the diversity and you all!
All that remains to be said is that I am so pleased to see you all here today – MAKING MY MARK explores my 4 careers. I hope you enjoy it.