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Keeping Faith actress says Shakespeare ‘squeezed’ support for Welsh independence out of her

23 Mar 2021 2 minute read
Right, Welsh independence march: Picture by Lluniau Lleucu / Yes Cymru. Left, Sian Phillips by Mario Huet (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Welsh actress Sian Phillips has said that she would not support Welsh independence because Shakespeare has “squeezed” her nationalism out of her.

The 87-year-old Welsh speaker was born in Gwaun-Cae-Gurwen, is best known for her theatre work and roles in I, Claudius and Dune, as well as her marriage to actor Peter O’Toole.

She has also appeared in S4C series Un Bore Mercher and the upcoming third English version of the same series, Keeping Faith, which will begin broadcast on Saturday.

Asked about Welsh independence, she told the Telegraph that she was a nationalist as a child and a member of the Urdd but now felt differently.

“I can understand it, but it would be a terrible shame if [Wales] broke away,” she says. “I’ve got used to the map being the shape it is, for one thing. It would look very peculiar if Wales, and Scotland, were missing.

“Of course, when I was a child, I was a very enthusiastic nationalist, I was in the Welsh League of Youth, but I’m afraid Shakespeare squeezed it out of me.”

She also told the Telegraph that her Welsh was so rusty when it came to shooting Un Bore Mercher than she had to turn to Duolingo.

“No one rumbled me when we were shooting, but I’ve been getting up at 6am to relearn it,” she said.

“I was doing ‘Cat on the mat’ for quite a while and it was hell on earth. But I feel much more confident now.”

Sian Phillips will next star opposite Michael Sheen in a forthcoming production of Thomas’s Under Milk Wood at the National Theatre.

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