Bringing You the Daily Dispatch

Culture TV and Radio

Adjoa Andoh discussed various topics related to sexuality, including her involvement in the punk scene, her role in the hit show Bridgerton, and her love for children’s classics.

Judith Kerr’s Mog is not a particularly festive character: she is a troublesome cat, the shade of a 1970s puddle, and part of a caring family where the mother appears to sigh frequently.

However, Mog did have a Christmas adventure in 1976, making it a perfect choice for Channel 4’s seasonal programming. It is likely that most people in the country either read it to their children or had it read to them. The nostalgic feeling when watching the adaptation is similar to sinking into a warm bath. The narrator’s lively and authoritative tone creates a sense of safety rather than inducing sleep. Adjoa Andoh, age 60, is the perfect choice for the role. She has been narrating audiobooks since they were recorded on cassette tapes and her voice has been lulling people to sleep for decades. She enjoys taking on roles that will be seen by a wide audience, as evidenced by her past TV work such as EastEnders in the 1990s, Casualty and Doctor Who in the 2000s. The relatable aspects of Mog’s story, such as the ordinary setting, family dynamics, and holiday preparations, make it a story that everyone can connect with. As Christmas approaches, many people across the country are anticipating the arrival of their relatives and wondering about their holiday plans and meals.

Hold on: this conversation on Mog is portraying Andoh in a cozy light. Actually, this woman is incredibly passionate. I recall seeing her at Battersea Arts Centre back in 1994. She and Polly Irvin were leading a groundbreaking theatre group, Wild Iris, made up of single mothers who were loud advocates for feminism (I was just a waitress at the time, so I didn’t know them personally). “We were former punks, or still punks. We wanted our theatre company to reflect who we truly were. Our stories focused on women, our casts were diverse, and our material was always original. We weren’t afraid to discuss any topics related to sexuality. And we were doing this in the 80s,” she reminisces. Ah, the 80s – a time when conservative individuals often criticized arts funding by claiming it only supported “Black, one-legged, single parent lesbians”. While this was happening, Andoh was creating art that challenged this narrow-minded thinking. In fact, she wasn’t a lesbian – she was actually in a relationship with Howard Cunnell, who ran the BAC bookshop. They later got married and had two more children.

Mog’s Christmas.

Andoh was raised in the Cotswolds, a rural area. Her father, who came from Ghana, chose this location due to his own experiences in a city. She recalls how, in the late 50s in Bristol, Black children were often placed in schools for those deemed to have educational disabilities. Her father worked for British Aerospace, while her mother was a history teacher. Despite being originally intended to attend Cambridge, Andoh struggled with her A-levels due to her interests in hitchhiking, constantly searching for the NME, and borrowing her father’s old suits. Balancing these activities with being a fan of the band 999 while living in the Cotswolds proved to be quite a challenge.

Instead of pursuing student drama, she enrolled in a law program at Bristol Poly. Despite being a punk, she became involved in a Black women’s group. They dedicated their time to teaching at a Saturday school in order to address the persisting disparities faced by Black children, similar to those her father experienced. The group also participated in events such as the Greenham protest and engaged in educational activities such as reading books and meeting with the Brixton Black Women’s Group. This group provided a space for personal growth and empowerment.

She decided to drop out of her studies in law, relocated to a squat in the southern part of London, and landed her first job with Equity at the age of 23. This happened in the same week that she found out she was pregnant. The theatre administrator then informed her that they would need to implement a maternity policy. This was the exciting world in which she began her career, and she has been continuously employed ever since.

Part of the reason for this is because Andoh effortlessly transitions between avant garde and more mainstream performances. She believes that cultural experiences should not be categorized as highbrow or lowbrow. She recalls performing in Cuba, where ballet is highly revered, but attending a football match was not a popular choice. To her, culture should simply be culture, and the most important factor is whether or not one has access to it. While she has high standards for the quality of her work, she also values being able to support herself financially and maintain a diverse range of projects. We both share a laugh as the lifelong socialist finds herself sounding like a stockbroker. She explains that she enjoys staying adaptable, using the example of playing the Duke of Gloucester in Richard III, a demanding role that requires remembering numerous lines and interacting with live audiences. And being a part of global productions is also important to her.

Adjoa Andoh recording for Mog’s Christmas.

Ah, Bridgerton: she’s been Lady Danbury since the beginning, three years ago, in a hit that turned period drama on its head, with this mild but seismic challenge: just because it’s set in the past, doesn’t mean everyone has to be white. “I was ready for Bridgerton 30 years ago,” she says. “But as we know, things take a long time to catch up. I think that genie’s out of the bottle now in terms of fictional historical drama, unless maybe you’re setting something in Iceland in 50 BC.”

I find it intriguing that Andoh has always been open about her political beliefs, yet has never been typecast into political roles. She states, “I am a middle-class woman from Gloucestershire, a devout member of the Church of England, with three children and a grandson.” Despite her support for Leeds United, her values lean towards socialism. She has been a vocal advocate for marginalized communities, including people of color, women, transgender individuals, LGBTQ+ individuals, and refugees. As she puts it, “I embody all of these identities.” Andoh clarifies that she is a “reader” in the church, which is a lay person who assists the vicar and can lead services, like she does at Southwark Cathedral in Borough Market. She believes that the church belongs in the heart of the bustling market.

Bypass the promotion for the newsletter.

This heartfelt message reminds us of Mog, the beloved symbol of Christmas, although not exactly. According to Andoh, who played Judith Kerr’s mother in “When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit,” she often reflects on Kerr’s childhood and the extreme challenges her family faced. They were constantly strategizing on how to survive, escape their country, and avoid starvation. Andoh admires Kerr’s practicality and dislike for sentimentalism. She believes that resilience comes from being practical, not from “googie-woogie stuff.”

During this season, there is commonly a lack of excitement, humor, and determination, but it surprisingly appears in an unexpected place – as the narrator of a children’s cartoon.

The Christmas special of Mog will be airing on Channel 4 at 7:45pm on Christmas Eve.

Source: theguardian.com