Hamish Downie’s Five Questions With Anna Cale, Author of “The Real Diana Dors”

Editor Note: Hamish has another in his series of Five Questions With…

Hamish came up with this idea because he was accumulating too much material for his Famous News Sushi column and asked if he could do these mini-interviews. Why would we say no?

Thank you Hamish for being such a trooper for us. We really appreciate all for your hard work.

Let us know what you think of these interviews in the comments below.


TGG: Could you please introduce yourself to our readers?

AC: I’m an arts and culture writer specialising in classic film and television. I’ve has written for a number of publications and websites, including Little White Lies, Film Stories and the British Film Institute, and have also appeared on Radio 4. My writing subjects are wide ranging, but I have an interest in British cinema of the 1940s, 50s and 60s, and in particular showcasing the role of strong female voices in film culture.

TGG: Could you tell us about your first book, “The Real Diana Dors”?

AC: It’s a biography of British film star Diana Dors. It follows her remarkable story, from a young girl in Swindon who dreamed of becoming
a star, to her screen successes and beyond. Set against the backdrop of the changing social landscape of twentieth century Britain, the book charts the ups and downs of her diverse acting career and her tumultuous private life, to build a fascinating picture of a truly unique British screen icon.

TGG: What attracted you to write about Diana Dors?

AC: The story of Diana Dors is a fascinating one. Few performers have captured the hearts and imaginations of the public in the way she did,
symbolising to many fans a bygone age of glamour. She was an ordinary girl from Swindon who became seen as Britain’s answer to Marilyn Monroe. In recent years there has been interest in her legacy as a performer, a renewed focus on her as a woman who achieved success in her own right and challenged expectations.

Dors navigated her rollercoaster career through some of the most fascinating periods in British cinema and of social change. She was an outspoken and sometimes controversial figure, grabbing headlines for her personal life as often as her film roles. Her ‘no holds barred’ approach to life was fascinating for audiences, and a gift for newspaper editors.

But there was more to Diana Dors than the ‘blonde bombshell’ reputation suggested. A talented performer, she worked on numerous film and television projects, and built a fascinating acting career which spanned decades.

TGG: What was the process like writing a biography like this?

AC: Writing a biography was a challenging but fascinating task. Much has been written about Diana Dors over the years, but the focus has often been on the salacious aspects of her personal life, or on her dramatic fall from grace.

When setting out to write the book, it was important to identify the reasons why her story should be told again. There was an opportunity for me to show all aspects of her journey and engage with readers who know her perhaps by reputation and might not be as familiar with her long and varied screen career. I felt that a re-evaluation of her as an actor and her role in defining stardom was needed.

It was also important to place her work and private life in the context of the times. To achieve that, I needed to unravel the intricate web of rumour and opinion surrounding her, take things right back to the source material and set about putting the pieces of the puzzle back together again. Luckily, plenty was written about Dors during her career in newspapers and magazines. It was also possible to capture her own words too, as she wrote a number of books and articles herself.

Dors experienced many ups and downs, and her life was full of contrasts. Giving an account of someone’s life, particularly someone as complex as Diana Dors, is a balancing act. The intention was to give as open and considerate an account of her as possible, but without skirting over some of the more challenging events.

TGG: What’s next for you?

AC: I’m not really sure yet! As a relatively new writer, having the chance to write this book was a bit unexpected, but it was a wonderful
experience. It was my first book, and I learned so much along the way. Now I’m happy to just enjoy the writing opportunities as they come
along and see what happens.

TGG: Finally, where can we buy your book and follow you on social media?

AC: The Real Diana Dors is published with White Owl on 30 July 2021, but is available for pre-order now from Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon, and local independent bookstores if you ask them nicely.


I’m on Twitter a lot (possibly a little too much) – @real_meaning

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