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Angela Lansbury opening Poplar Film Fest to remember famous granddad

PUBLISHED: 10:52 25 March 2014 | UPDATED: 12:53 25 March 2014

Angela Lansbury in Noel Coward's 'Blithe Spirit' at the Gielgud theatre

Angela Lansbury in Noel Coward's 'Blithe Spirit' at the Gielgud theatre

Johan Persson

Murder She Wrote, but superstar Angela Lansbury isn’t making a killing hosting a film festival in London’s East End being staged in her honour.

George Lansbury in the 1920sGeorge Lansbury in the 1920s

The theatrical legend, who starred in the long-running TV crime series and has returned to the West End stage in Noel Coward’s Blithe Spirit, has waved any fee for curating the Poplar Film Festival to remember her famous politician grandfather George Lansbury.

The star of TV’s Murder She Wrote selected seven of her films for the two-day festival out of the 50 she has made in her career for screening on April 5 and 6.

She returns to her East End roots for the festival, having spent much of her childhood in Poplar where her famous granddad was mayor and later MP.

George Lansbury led the 1921 Rates Strike as Mayor of Poplar and went to prison rather than charge the poor the same London precept as richer districts like Westminster. Other Poplar councillors jailed with him included Angela’s aunt Minnie Lansbury.

The festival at Chrisp Street Market and at the Spotlight centre in Langdon Park was the idea of the Poplar Harca housing association.

“We wrote to her manager and Dame Angela agreed to be our narrator—and without a fee,” said a spokesman. “We came up with idea at a meeting of the George Lansbury memorial committee when we found out Angela was coming to London to appear on stage.”

The films Dame Angela has selected include Gaslight in 1944, which earned her first Academy Award nomination, and The Mirror Crack’d in 1980 playing Miss Marple alongside Elizabeth Taylor.

She makes a live appearance at Chrisp Street Market on the second day for a free outdoor family lunchtime screening when she introduces her 1971 movie Bednobs and Broomsticks.

That is followed at the Spotlight centre in Langdon Park when the 88-year-old veteran of stage and screen goes under the spotlight for a live interview in front of an audience, chaired by Arts Council former Chairman Sir Chris Frayling, about her life and the family history.

She returned to the London stage last Tuesday after 40 years, appearing in the role of Madame Arcati, Noel Coward’s eccentric medium in ‘Blithe Spirit’.

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