In 2010, a dramatisation of the 1968 Ford women machinists’ strike was released, bringing the fight for equal pay to life for the eyes of a new generation.

Made in Dagenham‘s quick-witted writing makes it a light, enjoyable film rather than what could have been a depressing, heavy piece of cinema. The film’s protagonist, Rita O’Grady, played by Sally Hawkins, is a fictional character simply because the director Nigel Cole wanted to delve into “the women’s personal lives”.

Miranda Richardson as Baroness Barbara Castle

Miranda Richardson as Baroness Barbara Castle

It is worth noting that the real leader of the strike was Rose Boland who was described as “a formidable ringleader” by then secretary of state for employment Barbara Castle. Portrayed by Miranda Richardson, Castle somewhat steals the show. Made in Dagenham is full of feisty women, but Ms Castle, who is frequently shown to be shouting at the two men organising her office, really makes you laugh. As the longest-serving female MP in history until 2007, the Labour politician certainly deserves to be remembered and even more so as the consequence of her intervening in the strike was the 1970 Equal Pay Act.

rita ogrady

Sally Hawkins’s Rita O’Grady

While Richardson’s portrayal of the flame-haired politician was stellar, Sally Hawkins is able to access a certain depth with her character of O’Grady. As the woman fronting the campaign that led to a worldwide change in equal rights for women, the role is perhaps one of the most difficult in film history. However, Hawkins makes it appear effortless. When her character is at her lowest, so are you: there is something magical about Hawkins’s ability to captivate the mind of a modern-day audience while playing a role from the past.

Made in Dagenham is a film that is comedy genius and at times delightful to watch. But do not mistake that as the film having no substance. In fact, it carries an underlying element of sincerity and spreads a distinctive proud message to the audience. After all, the women who went on strike in 1968 are the women who have ensured that you and I are entitled to equal pay.