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Iron will: Thatchers snub invite to attend premiere

The family of Margaret Thatcher has snubbed an invitation to see 'The Iron Lady' at a public screening, the film's director said last night.

Phyllida Lloyd said that despite basing much of the film on the autobiography of the former British prime minister's daughter Carol, she had not spoken to any members of the Thatcher family about the controversial picture.

But she said she could understand why the Thatchers might want to "step back" from the project.

'The Iron Lady' has attracted strong criticism from some quarters for the way it has depicted Mrs Thatcher battle with dementia, but Ms Lloyd said the performance of Meryl Streep "took care" of the former premier's "dignity".

She said that half the film was "pure imagination", inspired by Carol Thatcher's book 'A Swim-On Part in the Goldfish Bowl'.

The other half was told from Mrs Thatcher's point of view and was a story about "power, and what it might have felt like to have great power and then to lose all power", she added.

Ms Lloyd said: "I think most people who see the film will feel that Meryl's performance of the older Margaret really does take care of her dignity and we all felt that somehow the portrait of somebody who is experiencing a failure of strength and health and forgetfulness is not a shameful thing to put on the screen."

In London last night double-Oscar winner Ms Streep was the centre of attention at the European premiere. Ms Streep is already being tipped for an Oscar, with critics hailing her performance as Ms Thatcher. But the film, which switches between the frail former politician of the present day and her time in Downing Street, has had mixed reviews.

Former cabinet minister Norman Tebbit has criticised the film makers. Writing in 'The Daily Telegraph', he said: "To judge the film from its trailer, they confined their inquiries to the 'Daily Mirror'." And Mrs Thatcher's long-term adviser, Bernard Ingham, said he had "serious reservations" about the film.

Irish Independent