Thursday, March 18, 2010

LLGFF: The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister

Premiere of 24th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival; photo by Val PhoenixIt's rare I venture out to Leicester Square, which is often swarming with drunken louts and aggressive touts. Or, as happened last night, with screaming girls awaiting the arrival of Robert Pattinson for some premiere.

Making a sharp detour to Odeon West End, I attended the premiere of the BBC production of The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister, for the opening night of the 24th London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival. Full of swaggering dandies and extravagant haircuts. And that was just the audience. The film, starring Maxine Peake as the titular character, an extraordinary 19th century Yorkshire noblewoman, is great bawdy fun, full of heaving bosoms and a bit of bodice ripping. Quite racy for the BBC. Can't imagine what Outraged in Tunbridge Wells will make of it, when it airs on BBC2 later in the year.

But, of course, on these occasions, it's all about the people-watching, both at the screening and the after-party. Spotted: Sarah Waters, Charlotte Cooper, and The Raincoats. But, the real action was in the Ladies toilets at the Odeon, where Maxine Peake and other cast members repaired after the film. Simultaneously fixing her make-up and signing autographs, Ms. Peake tutted that she still can't get used to seeing herself on the big screen. Meanwhile, her co-stars patiently waited in the queue. Finding myself between Miss Walker and Miss Belcombe, I shook hands with them both and complimented them on a job well done.

It's not often a character's hesitant declaration: "But, I-I-I don't want to marry" is greeted with cheers. Jane Austen's characters turned finding a husband into a sport and congratulated themselves on this achievement, but for Lister's circle, remaining unmarried was the happy ending.
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Unknown said...

Just to let you know that the transmission date for the Anne Lister film is Monday 31st May - BBC2. The documentary will follow after a couple of days - no fixed date for that yet.

Tony Sharpe
Shibden Hall

Val Phoenix, scribe said...

Thanks for the heads up! I didn't know there was a doc, but I see now that it was shot at Shibden, unlike the film. Were you involved in it?

Unknown said...

I don't feature in the programme, Val, but was there when the brilliant Sue Perkins was filming. It was bitterly cold, and Sue would come in to thaw out and be plied with mugs of steaming hot tea. She was lovely, as was Maxine Peake. Maxine didn't film at Shibden Hall, but did a recce of the place on the 1st November last year to get a feel of the place. Lovely people.

Val Phoenix, scribe said...

Ah, a behind-the-scenes glimpse, complete with cups of tea. Cool.

Unknown said...

The hour-long documentary on Anne Lister (presented by Sue Perkins), will immediately follow the 90 minute drama on Monday.
Go Here:

Unknown said...

I know it's short notice, but Helena Whitbread will be signing copies of her book "The Secret Diaries Of Miss Anne Lister" at Shibden Hall tomorrow, 13/11 at 2pm. She will be joined by Jane English who wrote the screenplay for the drama of the same name.

Tony Sharpe said...

A great day today. Helena gave a talk on how she discovered Anne Lister and began transcribing the diaries. 27 volumes, 6,600 pages, four million words. Helena is an inspiration to us all, and considering she will be 80 in January makes me feel very humble and in awe of her vitality and enthusiasm.
She was ably supported by the lovely Jane English who wrote the screenplay, and gave us an insight into how she approached the story of Anne Lister's life and doing her justice.
I think she did a remarkable job.
Maxine Peake was hoping to attend, but unfortunately had filmimg commitments.