If you want to know more about the real life heroes behind the hit film Anthropoid currently on release then visit the Warwickshire town of Leamington Spa. The town was the location for the Free Czech Army during World War Two and in its ornate Jephson Gardens is the only memorial to the Czech soldiers who died in what was one of the most daring missions of the war.
The film stars Cillian Murphy (Peaky Blinders) as Josef Gabčík and Jamie Dornan (Fifty Shades of Grey) as Jan Kubiš, two Czech agents sent in 1942 to assassinate Reinhard Tristan Eugen Heydrich, the Butcher of Prague. Anthrpoid was the codename for the operation to kill Heydrich, who as Reich Protector of Bohemia and Moravia (now the Czech Republic) was the third highest ranking Nazi and the architect of the Holocaust.
Murphy, who will next be seen in another war drama, Christophers Nolans Dunkirk, said “I think the story is not very well known outside of the Czech Republic – I think it will be a revelation to cinemagoers to realise that this incident in history took place.
The Free Czech Army made Leamington Spa its home after the occupation of Czechoslovakia by the Nazis in 1940. Some 4,000 soldiers and other military personnel were based in and around the town during the war including at nearby Walton Hall which was used as a training base.
The memorial in the centre of the town is in the shape of a parachute and was erected in 1968. It contains the names of all the seven brave men who parachuted into Czechoslovakia in the assassination attempt. But the fountain is now in desperate need of repair and to help the Friends of the Czechoslovak Memorial Fountain has been formed to raise funds to renovate this important memorial.
My latest opinion piece for the Guardian deals with an issue close to my heart – my ginger hair.
Ginger nut. Duracell battery. Carrot top. These hurtful taunts were a regular part of my life growing up with a mop of red hair in a tough inner-city comprehensive during the 1970s. And like a lot of other young people at the time who suffered because they looked different, I was singled out.
So when the ballet dancer Edward Watson hit back at the critic who panned his ginger hair, it hit a raw nerve. Like Watson I also have ginger hair, and trained with the Royal Ballet as a child, appearing in Romeo and Juliet as a pageboy. When auditioning I got the part because with my bright mop of red hair the company decided I didn’t need the wig they usually asked performers to wear. Read more >>
Sad to hear about the death of Paul Daniels. He was on every Saturday night when I was growing up. My grandfather Herbert pictured was a professional magician. Here is a clip of Paul doing a trick Herbert invented called the 4 Aces.
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