The Rebel Interviews: Anita Dobson

Interview with Anita Dobson who plays the character Margaret in The Rebel.

Anita Dobson as Margaret

What appealed to you about The Rebel?

The chance to work with Simon Callow and Bill Paterson was too good an opportunity to miss. Both of them are absolutely brilliant. So when they asked me to be the third member of that trio, I said yes immediately. I simply loved the script!

Please outline your character for us.

I love Margaret, she is absolutely lovely. She's been a bit of a girl in her day. She's been around the block a few times and knocked a few heads together.

How would you describe her relationship with Henry?

She likes the fact that Henry is a lad and a rebel. She finds that attractive. In her later years, she's flirting outrageously. They're striking up an alliance, and she thinks there might be the possibility of a window of opportunity with him...

Tell us more about Henry.

He's fundamentally anti-Establishment. He's reached an age where he feels he can speak out against all the things that annoy him. He's annoyed about the things we're all annoyed about. For instance, why do people cycle on the pavement? Why don't they have more people staffing the tills when we're queueing up at the Post Office? Instead of quietly putting up with things, Henry is actually doing something about it. He's a rebel in every sense. He's becoming a bit of an ASBO in his old age!

You're old friends with Simon, aren't you?

Absolutely. He directed me in The Pyjama Game in the West End a few years ago. We have a very happy relationship. He's very clever and very well read, much like my husband. Simon is also really funny and has got an outrageous sense of humour. This was one of those jobs that was just a joy from day one!

How has it been working with Bill?

It's been lovely. He's such a wonderful actor. His character Charles is constantly smoking dope and is not that with it. Charles fancies his chances with Margaret, but in fact he doesn't have a chance! He's supportive of Henry because he's making him do things. Charles could be sitting on the beach in a deck chair, but Henry galvanises him to take action.

There is a wonderful chemistry between you three, isn't there?

Definitely. That chemistry is very natural. We had it from the very first day - it was just there. It's a real blessing because it means when you're working you can concentrate on other things without having to find that chemistry in every scene.

What winds you up about modern society?

I hate queuing. I hate it when you go into a bank and not enough staff are on the tills. They want you to use the machines, but there's no one to speak to you about how to use them. In the autumn of life, I find myself saying to people in the bank, "Why don't you put more staff on the tills? What's the problem?" I also hate companies playing loud music to me when I'm holding on the phone. That drives me mad! I'm with Henry!

What did you rebel against when you were young?

I did go on a Ban the Bomb march when I was 18, and I'm still dead set against war. But I was a slow burner. It took me a while to work out my opinions. But like Henry, I'm much more ready now to speak out about things. If you asked me what my pet hates are, I'd be quite happy to tell you.

Would you like to do more series of The Rebel?

Absolutely! As Bill has said, "I definitely, definitely want to do more, but they'd better get a move on with commissioning it because none of us is getting any younger!" I'm with Bill. Please do more series of The Rebel, but hurry up!