I've already set my video (haven't got Sky Plus yet, despite Michael Parkinson's blandishments)."Mum was the best man for the job" – says Mark Thatcher
Lady Thatcher's son Mark claims his mother was 'the best man for the job' of prime minister in an exclusive interview for a new BBC TV documentary which goes out this Sunday. Sir Mark Thatcher agreed to talk for the first time on television to political documentary maker Michael Cockerell. Called the making of the Iron Lady, the programme shows how Mrs Thatcher fought her way to the top in a man's world to become the West's first female prime minister. Sir Mark recalls how mother's motto was 'never a wasted moment'. ' I remember how she used to come home from Westminster and immediately start cooking the dinner. And I would go up to her and say "you know mum it's okay – you can take your coat off now'.
The documentary includes film of Mrs Thatcher giving her own first television interview in 1960, with her then six-year old twins, Mark and Carol perched on the sofa watching. 'I remember when the TV crew came down for that interview', says Sir Mark. ' It was the first time I realised that my mum was not the like my schoolfriends' mothers: she was clearly something out of the ordinary'.
Sir Mark reveals that his father, Denis was very worried when Mrs Thatcher announced that she was going to run for the Tory leadership against Ted Heath in 1975. 'My father's concern was that if she stood she would poll very badly amongst the Conservative members. And that would damage her political reputation for ever.'
In fact Mrs Thatcher who'd started the contest as a rank outsider romped to victory in the leadership contest. The programme shows the key role played by her leadership campaign manager and oldest political friend Airey Neave. But four years later Neave was assassinated by Irish terrorists in the Commons. 'My mother was deeply, deeply distressed', says Mark Thatcher. 'Of all the things which happened to her, Airey Neave's s death was the most tragic event that she had to face in her entire career in politics.'
Asked by Cockerell how he thought his mother had managed, against all the odds, to become the first woman prime minister in Western world, Sir Mark replies: 'My perspective as her son is very straightforward - she was the best man for the job.' Michael Cockerell says: 'For the documentary I wanted to speak to those who had been closest to her – as sadly Lady Thatcher no longer gives TV interviews, on doctors' orders. And I knew her son was less than keen on the media. But I worked hard to assure Mark Thatcher that I wanted his first-hand account of how his mother became Prime Minister. To my agreeable surprise to he agreed to the interview'.
'The Making of the Iron Lady' goes out on BBC 4 at 9pm this Sunday.
Wednesday, June 04, 2008
A Week of Thatcher Mania Beckons
It seems to be Margaret Thatcher season at the BBC. On June 12th we have MARGARET THATCHER: THE LONG MARCH TO FINCHLEY and a Thatcher special DINNER WITH PORTILLO, but before that, this Sunday we can look forward to another Michael Cockerell special on THE MAKING OF THE IRON LADY. Here's the BBC press release which has just been issued.