Carol White: The Battersea Bardot – Interview with Ewen Moore

By Chrissy Hamlin

British Actress Carol White was a household name back in the 1960’s, thanks to her performances in the gritty, groundbreaking black and White BBC TV plays “Up The Junction” &”Cathy Come Home” and the film, “Poor Cow”. Today however, Carol’s name has faded into relative obscurity, as is often the case in the fickle world of show business and fame.

In London during the swinging 1960’s, Carol was compared to Brigit Bardot and Julie Christie and worked with many well-known actors such as Oliver Reed, Adam Faith, Peter Sellers & Dean Martin. She was a highly promising young actress who could naturally play working-class female characters due to her realistic acting style. What many people did not know was that the women, and the type situations portrayed in these pioneering real-life “kitchen sink” drama’s, often mirrored events in Carol’s turbulent and chaotic personal life. She knew these characters well; she’d shared their experiences, lived their lives, and felt their passions, pains, and frustrations.

For Carol White, following her dream of Hollywood stardom only dragged her deeper into a world where the dark lure of drugs and alcohol affected her physical and mental health, which led to her making bad choices in her career and in her personal life. She may have met a tragic end, and never fully reached her potential as an actress for so many different reasons, but what she did do was leave her mark on a classic body of work on film, that is regarded today as one of the most important examples of social realism in British cinema ever, and for that, we feel her life should be celebrated, and more people should know who she is, because, in essence, her story encapsulates the very essence of the 1960’s female working class experience.

If you haven’t heard of Carol white or seen any of her iconic films, then watch our two part podcast interview below to discover more. Watch the full length film of “Up The Junction” & the film trailers at the end of the post to see Carol doing what she does best! We had a fascinating chat with Ewen Moore, the composer of a new one-woman musical, based on Carol’s life & work. Our interview was packed full of delicious biographical details and I learned so much more about this fascinating actress. Ewen did years of extensive background research in order to get right to the heart of who Carol was, so he could accurately convey her character and emotions through the medium of musical theatre. What he doesn’t know about Carol really isn’t worth knowing!

In Part One we discuss Carol’s family background and her early career as a young actress. We then go on to cover her rise to fame in the 1960’s in a series of controversially groundbreaking plays, featuring working class women, written by Nell Dunn and her husband Jeremy Stanford, that were directed by Ken Loach. We also talk about the historical context of what life was like for working class women in London before the rise of the feminist movement, and touch on what the social attitudes to issues such as women’s rights, sex before marriage, abortion and homelessness were, in the 1960’s and how things have changed today.

Watch 1966 Brit TV classic “Cathy Come Home”

Cathy Come Home” is a 1966 BBC television play about homelessness. It was written by Jeremy Sandford, produced by Tony Garnett, directed by Ken Loach, and starring Carol White as “Cathy.”
A 1998 Radio Times readers’ poll voted it the “best single television drama” and a 2000 industry poll rated it as the second-best British television programme ever made. Filmed in a gritty, realistic drama documentary style, it was first broadcast on 16 November 1966 on BBC1. The play was shown in the BBC’s The Wednesday Play anthology strand, which often tackled social issues. [Source: Wikipedia]

Kes inspired me to smash Oxbridge ivory towers


Christopher Eccleston says Ken Loach’s film changed his view on “art for working class people”.

Christopher Eccleston has said Ken Loach’s Kes changed his view of “art and culture for working class people” and inspired him to take up acting to smash Oxbridge’s “ivory towers”.

The 59-year-old star recently read A Kestrel for a Knave, the book that inspired the 1969 film, for BBC Four.

He said Loach’s film of a boy who bonds with a kestrel had been the “most important cultural event” of his life.

The Salford-born actor added that it was the “greatest British film ever”.

The film, which was released a year after Barry Hines’s novel, won several awards when it was first released and was later ranked seventh in the British Film Institute’s list of the 100 greatest British films of the 20th Century.

The former Doctor Who star, whose career has taken in films, television and the stage, told BBC North West Tonight that seeing it as a child inspired him to “smash down the ivory towers built by Oxbridge and public school and get into the arts world”.

“It changed my entire view of myself, of art and culture for working class people,” he said.

“It was an absolutely transformative experience.”

The film tells the story of Billy Casper, a working class boy who finds hope and fulfilment when he adopts a young kestrel and begins training it.

Eccleston said he was “completely and utterly beguiled by the idea that a working class individual like myself and my brothers and my mother and father could have a wonderful skill and could have a dream to be lifted from the pit, as in Billy’s case, or the factories in my mum and dad’s and my case”.

“I saw the film before I read the book and it changed my life entirely,” he said.

[ . . . ]

Source: Christopher Eccleston: Kes inspired me to smash Oxbridge ivory towers

‘Hope isn’t just wishful thinking’—an interview with Ken Loach

Director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty
Director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty

Director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty speak to Nick Grant about their new film ‘The Old Oak’

In their 15th film together director Ken Loach and writer Paul Laverty confront a subject that could hardly be more relevant. They thrust us into the dramatic bitterness felt by both an abandoned British community and weary refugees. Set in north east England, audiences watch a group of Syrians arriving in a derelict former mining area.

Right from the start we find a Newcastle United football-shirted bloke bellowing insults at a group getting off a coach. Trying to referee the situation is pub landlord TJ Ballantyne. Loach and Laverty don’t simplify the harsh realities of everyone caught in this situation. Tory and Labour ­governments and councils have taken jobs, education, training and pensions from old and young workers.

The refugees have lost out too—from family members to mental and physical health. Both are short of money and self-respect, loaded down by the most elementary of human needs. Dave Turner as TJ is utterly convincing as the worried, pragmatic manager of The Old Oak pub. He jostles the demands of regulars who carp on about the new arrivals with his wish to give the new arrivals a break.

TJ’s wife has divorced him and his estranged son has left him, so his dog is his only companion. He walks a fine personal and political line to survive. Loach told Socialist Worker that this character is key. “Everything around him shouts out despair,” he said. “From what’s happened to the community, the nature of work, the conscious cruelty to vulnerable people and the uses of hunger.
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Film Review: Ken Loach’s “Sorry We Missed You” Will Infuriate You

He is perhaps Britain’s foremost cinematic chronicler of working-class angst and quotidian humanism.

I wish I could have been a fly on the wall when Ken Loach first learned about the “gig economy.” The debilitating delusion underlying that concept — the dream of being your own boss, only to find yourself trapped on an accelerating, unstoppable hamster wheel of work — fits right in with the veteran director’s moral vision of a world in which ordinary humans regularly think they can outsmart a system designed to destroy them. Loach is perhaps Britain’s foremost cinematic chronicler of working-class angst and quotidian humanism. Strident outrage bubbles just beneath the ambling, improvisational cadences of his films. And I can only imagine that the old lefty director of KesRaining Stones, and The Wind That Shakes the Barley blew a gasket when he learned about how so many of today’s workers have been bilked into thinking they can be free operators in a tech-enabled landscape of merciless profit. […] Continue reading