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John Sergeant: Margaret Thatcher was more attractive than on-screen portrayals

Margaret Thatcher was more attractive in real life, according to John Sergeant (PA)
Margaret Thatcher was more attractive in real life, according to John Sergeant (PA)

Journalist John Sergeant has said Gillian Anderson may not capture the essence of “attractive” Margaret Thatcher.

The former BBC and ITN correspondent said actresses have failed to capture the warmth of the former prime minister, and instead played a “cartoon” version.

Anderson is reported to be playing the Conservative Party politician in the upcoming series of The Crown.

John Sergeant interview
John Sergeant said the former PM could be funny when relaxed (Kirsty O’Connor/PA)

Sergeant said the temptation is to portray Baroness Thatcher as the stern Iron Lady, but she was more endearing and attractive in real life.

Writing in Radio Times magazine, the journalist said he had personal experience of her charm and sense of humour.

He said: “Gillian is likely to play the part well. But having closely observed the former prime minister for many years, I can assure you that she ain’t no Margaret Thatcher.

“Even the marvellous Meryl Streep in The Iron Lady didn’t convince me.

Olivier Awards
Gillian Anderson is rumoured to be playing the Iron Lady (David Mirzoeff/PA)

“It’s hard for producers not to fall for the strident, cartoon version of Maggie.

“Clutching you by the arm, or putting her hand over yours by way of greeting, made her much more attractive in real life.”

The journalist added that Baroness Thatcher, when she was relaxed, could be funny.

Sergeant warned that factual dramas may present a skewed perception of politicians and real-life events for viewers.

He said: “There is a danger that audiences have become too ready to believe that these fictitious depictions of the truth are what happened.”

The full piece is in this week’s Radio Times.

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