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.)

8 comments:

kristina said...

Thank you as always for the heads up--you always have the scoop on the best things. Happy New Year! K x

mary said...

Happy New Year to you, too, Kristina. I had a feeling people might have missed this one, tucked away between Christmas and New Year. Which would be a shame, because it was a treat.

Nick said...

Mary, I listened to the broadcast about Margaret Rutherford this afternoon and enjoyed it very much. Thanks for bringing it to everyone's attention.

mary said...

Glad you enjoyed it, Nick.

StuckInABook said...

I did miss this, so thank you for mentioning it - she was Miss Hargreaves, after all, so how could I not love her?

mary said...

I didn't know that, Simon. Sounds as good as Madame Arcati!

Toffeeapple said...

I missed it but, thanks to you, I shall be able to catch up with it on iPlayer, thank you Mary.

mary said...

Happy to oblige, Toffeeapple. I think radio gets a bit swamped by TV over Christmas, but I enjoyed this much more than Christmas Downton!