Meryl Streep confessed a strong admiration for Thatcher after playing her in The Iron Lady.
“When I was in college the professions open to women were so few…You could, perhaps, become leader of a company, maybe if they made make-up. You could be editor of a magazine but only if it was a woman’s magazine ….that’s the world that Margaret Thatcher entered and then rose right to the very top and it’s extraordinary.”
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Lindsay Duncan, who played Thatcher in BBC2 drama Margaret in 2009, admitted hating the former PM.
“That’s not a big surprise, is it, coming from someone in the arts? At the time, I was dismayed by a lot of her policies. And the way she spoke was often so patronising; that kind of faux intimacy she created when she talked to journalists… I found it very unappealing,” she said.
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Andrea Riseborough, who played the former PM in BBC Four’s 2008 film The Long Walk to Finchley, said she thought Thatcher had “psychopathic tendencies”.
“Mrs Thatcher had oversights when it came to thousands of people. No, millions. She is still untouchable for many because she didn't operate in the way others did,” she said. ”Her connection with humanity was a very loose thread. Emotionally, she was not in touch with herself or anybody else. As well as being such an intelligent woman, I would say she had psychopathic tendencies.“
Steve Nallon was behind the satirical comedy Spitting Image, in which he created voices for the puppet version of Margaret Thatcher. In The Inside Story of Spitting Image, Lewis Chester later wrote:
“Nallon would say that Mrs Thatcher did not have one voice but three. There was the slow deliberate Falklands voice for patriotic occasions, the quick high-pitched Grantham grocery shop voice used to intimidate the House of Commons, and the whispered sincere voice, loaded with intimacy and conviction.”
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Maureen Lipman has played the former PM a number of times, including in TV series The Other ‘Arf (1981) and About Face (1989).
Speaking about mastering Thatcher’s demeanour, she said: “It’s a constructed voice. It’s something she learned, so therefore anybody else can learn it. Once you’ve got the walk you’ve got her: the grip on the bag, the slightly turned-in feet.”
Mimic Janet Brown was best known for her impersonations of Thatcher, imitating the former PM in numerous TV shows, as well as Bond film For Your Eyes Only (pictured here).
The Tina Fey of her generation once met Thatcher at a Conservative party conference. “Afterwards, she came up to me and said, 'I know you could have delivered my speech better than I did, but was it all right?' She was always very sweet to me and she needn't have been. But, then, I used to be quite selective about the scripts I'd do. I was prepared to send her up, but not maliciously,” she said.
Sylvia Syms played Margaret Thatcher in Half the Picture (1996) and Thatcher: The Final Days (1991). Like Janet Brown she also met her subject face-to-face.
“I don’t think she ever relaxed in a chair. I once went to a dinner where there was red wine spilled. I remember catching her eye and giving her a grin. It was like watching through glass. You got nothing at all."