On the red carpet of Made in Dagenham: out this weekend

PUBLISHED: 12:00 02 October 2010

Sally Hawkins stars in Made in Dagenham

Sally Hawkins stars in Made in Dagenham


EVER heard of the Bechedel test? Neither had I until I went to the London premiere of Made In Dagenham last week.

Sally Hawkins as Rite O'Grady in Made in Dagenham

After walking past Sally Hawkins on the red carpet and feeling very under-dressed (having come straight from work), I took a seat in the famous Odeon cinema, Leicester Square.

Producers Stephen Woolley and Elizabeth Karlsen introduced one of 2010’s most anticipated Brit flicks.

“The Bechedel test,” explained Ms Karlsen. “Is one which few films pass, but I believe ours does.”

To pass a film must have at least two women in it, the women must talk to each other – and they must talk about something other than men.

The old Ford factory

It is a test which has been adopted by feminists across the world.

Ironic considering the 187 ‘Revlon revolutionaries’, who went on strike from Ford demanding equal pay in 1968, wouldn’t have described themselves as feminists.

Theirs was an accidental stumble into the world of politics that changed life for women in the workplace forever.

This awe inspiring tale about a group of Essex girls who took on Ford, the unions and parliament – and won – has never been told on film before.

It is a story I know well, as working on the Post makes you something of an expert on the history of Ford, whether you want to be one or not.

I was adamant the film should do this incredible David and Goliath tale justice and, after seeing it twice, I believe it does.

The first time I thought it wasn’t gritty enough, that director Nigel Cole had on his rose-tinted spectacles while behind the camera.

And though this is true to an extent – for example some of the women are a little too perfect looking to make credible factory workers (Jaime Winstone and Andrea Riseborough) – the film is by no means lacking in heart.

The blend of humour and drama sets the right tone to tell this story, and although the issues are a little simplified, Made In Dagenham will have huge popular appeal.

Sally Hawkins is a sympathetic and engaging lead as Rita O’Grady who leads the women machinists on strike.

Bob Hoskins does a great job playing himself, although he raises a few smiles as Albert, the only union man who supports the women.

Miranda Richardson as Employment Minister, Barbara Castle, is a complete show stealer. There is a wonderful scene that’s worth the price of a ticket alone when one of her aids suggests she shouldn’t meet the Ford strikers because it will give their cause credence.

“I am what is known as a fiery redhead,” she says. “And this is redheaded fieriness leaping to the fore.

“Credence! I will give their cause credence?! It already has credence – it is equal pay!”

Great stuff. Whether you are male of female, I highly recommend a trip to the cinema this weekend to see how a group of Dagenham women shaped our history.

Made In Dagenham is released today (Friday October 1).

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