Tuesday, 1 January 2013
If you missed this splendid Radio 4 programme the other day about Margaret Rutherford, there is still time to catch it. After she died, somebody said that, 'She stood for the fighting spirit of ladies who run flower stalls at bazaars.' She certainly inspired some wonderful reviews. She had 'a bust like a roll-top desk,' one critic said. And I particularly liked Kenneth Tynan's description of her in The Way of the World: 'The soul of Cleopatra has somehow got trapped in the corporate shape of an entire lacrosse team.'
Do try to catch it as it's full of little gems like her neighbour Rumer Godden's account of a well-mannered chimpanzee in scarlet rompers coming to tea. (If only they had explained why!)
I'd never have guessed that Margaret Rutherford was first cousin once removed to Tony Benn or that she taught TV chef Antony Worrall-Thompson to swim. (She must have been magnificent in a swimming costume, like a great Bri-nylon walrus.)
Sadly, she had a history of depressive breakdowns and was haunted by the fear of mental illness that ran in her family. Her father was in and out of Broadmoor after bludgeoning her grandfather to death with a chamber pot. (Oh, go on, laugh ... I did, too.)