Red Joan is based on a novel of the same name written by Jennie Rooney, which was itself inspired by the life of Melita Norwood. Norwood worked at the British Non-Ferrous Metals Research Association (the body which was responsible for Britain’s atom bomb programme) as a secretary and supplied the Soviet Union with nuclear secrets. The materials that Norwood betrayed to the USSR hastened the pace by about 5 years at which the Soviets developed nuclear bomb technology.
Sophie Cookson is the young Joan Stanley studying physics at Cambridge. She became involved with Communists and radical politics through her friend Sonya (Tereza Srbova) and Leo (Tom Hughes), a German Jew. Her story, which reaches as far back as 1938, is recalled in flashbacks as Joan in old age is questioned by the Special Branch. The questioning reveals that Joan was more concerned about “leveling the playing field” in the postwar world rather than communism.
The breakthrough for her and the Russians came when she was given access to research work relating to a theory about the corrosive nature of uranium at high temperatures. Melita was “groomed” for a life in espionage by her highly political mother Gertrude, who also spied for Moscow. In the 1930s Gertrude set up a safe house for the Soviets’ network of radio operators in the UK.
“Melita was not a hard line Stalinist. She was an emotional Communist and quite naive. She thought what she was doing was for the benefit of the entire world.
“She thought of Stalin in those early days as a sort of Clement Attlee figure. When she became (politically) active in the 1930s, Russia was seen by many people as the only nation capable of defeating the Nazis.
“She once said she didn’t agree with spying against one’s country. She said her purpose had been to keep Russia abreast.”
However, a biographical book by also reveals that Norwood herself recruited at least one spy to work for Russia. She declined to identify her recruit.
An historian who specialises in eastern European political emigres, Mr Burke first met Norwood in 1997. Mr Burke says Norwood had little time for the new generation of spies and their working methods which became Cold War lore.
“She didn’t like what she called the “playboy spies”. She also had no time for things like honeytraps. She believed in doing things the old-fashioned way.”
Professor Christopher Andrew, the official historian for MI5 who has written the forward to the new book said there was no doubt that the Russians thought she was a significant operator.
“Melita was the longest lasting Soviet spy in British history and that country’s most important female operative. How important particular pieces of information is often in the ears of the beholder. But the point is that the Russians thought what she was doing was very important and they told her so.”
The Spy Who Came In From the Co-op will be published by Boydell and Brewster on 17 October priced £18.99
Friday 10th May – 18:00 – 19:00
£7 adults and £5 for under 16 years old One Man Shoe, is a delightful new show for children and families, performed by Jango Starr.
When the headline act fails to show up, Jango, a bumbling theatre caretaker, is suddenly thrust into the limelight and embarks on a hilarious journey of highly crafted and heart-felt silent comedy, as he magically finds his way to realise his dream of transforming into a star! Jango Starr’s unique style of silent physical theatre includes contemporary circus clowning, slapstick comedy, puppetry, juggling and absurd magic, bringing laughter and joy to all ages!
Produced by SC²ENE
Due to illness, we were unable to bring you this show when it was booked previously, so we are very pleased that we are now able to do so.
Shane Shambhu’s Confessions of a Cockney Temple Dancer, offers a funny, honest and engaging bilingual solo of comedy and dance.
You’ll laugh out loud as he practices his dance and imagines himself as ‘Shane the Hero’ behind a brick wall in the school playground.
In this funny and honest solo, Shane Shambhu combines Indian dance and stand-up comedy to lead audiences on a revealing journey of his life experiences. From unlikely Indian dance student to “rude boy” to international performer.
With his inimitable charm and wit, Shane will have you laughing out loud as he reveals his past through a vivid display of characters, lived experiences and comical stories, reflecting on how race, language, cultures and identity have defined him and his career. Shane Shambhu has collaborated with an acclaimed team of collaborators to create Confessions Of A Cockney Temple Dancer.
Following the show, audiences will get the opportunity to sample an assortment of traditional Indian cuisine in a special post-show cooking demonstration hosted by Shane.
“The show was amazing, Shane is so talented. The narrative around the dance made it very easy to appreciate and his humorous style made it entertaining. The 2nd part – Cockney Curry House, was great. Very different and really funny.” Pat Kynaston,Events Professional Organisers Ltd, Cheshire (who saw the show at Peel Centre, Dronfield, Live & Local 23rd November 2018)
“…excellent storytelling and characterisation skills. The audience was on it’s feet by the end.”
“A tour de force and something very unusual. It is entertaining, insightful and really very unexpectedly funny. This is something not to be missed.”
Stellar International Cast Boasts Hugh Jackman, Zoe Saldana, David Walliams, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, Timothy Olyphant, Amrita Acharia, Ching Valdez-Aran, Emma Thompson and Zach Galifianakis in Fun-Filled, Globe-Circling Extravaganza.
LAIKA, the animation studio behind the Academy Award® nominated Kubo and the Two Strings, The Boxtrolls, ParaNorman, and Coraline, announces its fifth and most ambitious film to date: MISSING LINK.
“Missing Link is an artistic and technical wonder,” said Mr. Knight. “Led by our visionary director Chris Butler, LAIKA has once again blended fine art, craftsmanship, and cutting-edge technology to achieve something we’ve never tried before: a raucous comedy entwined with a swashbuckling epic, underscoring the universal need to find belonging. Commingling keenly felt emotion, madcap humor, and retina-bursting visuals, Missing Link is a kaleidoscopic cinematic experience unlike any other. It’s the most striking thing we’ve ever done.”
The charismatic Sir Lionel Frost (voiced by Hugh Jackman) considers himself to be the world’s foremost investigator of myths and monsters. The trouble is none of his small-minded high-society peers seems to recognize this. Sir Lionel’s last chance for acceptance by the adventuring elite rests on traveling to America’s Pacific Northwest to prove the existence of a legendary creature. A living remnant of Man’s primitive ancestry. The Missing Link.
Zach Galifianakis is Mr. Link: the slightly silly, surprisingly smart and soulful beast upon whom Sir Lionel’s dreams depend. As species go, he’s as endangered as they get; he’s the last of his kind, and he’s lonely. Proposing a daring quest to seek out his rumored distant relatives, he enlists Sir Lionel’s help in an odyssey around the world to find the fabled valley of Shangri-La.
Together with Adelina Fortnight (voiced by Zoe Saldana), an independent and resourceful adventurer who possesses the only known map to the group’s secret destination, the unlikely trio embarks on a riotous rollercoaster of a ride. Along the way, our fearless explorers encounter more than their fair share of peril, stalked at every turn by dastardly villains seeking to thwart their mission. Through it all, Mr. Link’s disarming charm and good-humored conviction provide the emotional and comedic foundation of this fun-filled family film.
Bursting with humor, heart, and a profound message of acceptance and finding one’s place, Missing Link is written and directed by Oscar® nominee Chris Butler (ParaNorman). LAIKA’s head of production and Oscar® nominee Arianne Sutner (ParaNorman, Kubo and the Two Strings) is producing with Mr. Knight, who earned an Academy Award® nomination and BAFTA win for his directorial debut on Kubo.
“It was a constant source of delight to witness how our game and captivating cast imbued these larger- than- life characters with distinct personality,” said writer/director Chris Butler. “Hugh lends Sir Lionel a giddy schoolboy enthusiasm bubbling beneath the surface of his suave English gent; Zoe brings an unflappable ardor and a witty playfulness to Adelina, and Zach’s performance as Link is not only laugh-out-loud funny, but a beautifully nuanced balance of innocence and vulnerability. It was a treat to be able to join this eclectic gang of adventurers on their journey across the world.”
The Fisherman’s Friends are: brothers John & Jeremy Brown, writer and moustachioed MC Jon Cleave, potter Billy Hawkins, smallholder John ‘Lefty’ Lethbridge, builder John McDonnell, fisherman Jason Nicholas and film maker Toby Lobb. Despite their musical adventures, the band can still be found working their day-jobs and enjoying life on the North Cornish Coast.
2019 sees the release of ‘Fisherman’s Friends’ a movie based on the group’s discovery and signing to a major record label. The film was written and produced by the team behind 2018’s British hit film ‘Finding Your Feet’ and stars Daniel Mays, Tuppence Middleton, David Hayman, Sam Swainsbury & James Purefoy. The film also features music from the Fisherman’s Friends and can be found on the album release ‘Keep Hauling’.
The Fisherman’s Friends have been widely credited with starting the revival of interest in shanty-style choral singing but a cornerstone of their success has been their constantly evolving and expanding repertoire. The strongest belief that the band have always held dear is that friendship will always come first, with music a very close second!!
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