Somerville students and alumni sold out the Phoenix Picturehouse in Jericho on Sunday as they witnessed Meryl Streep depict the life of their most famous former student, Margaret Thatcher. Students described the day as “like being on a school trip”.
The special private screening of The Iron Lady was followed by a panel discussion of the film and the former Prime Minister in the college dining hall, led by Principal Alice Prochaska, who noted that Thatcher was “proud to be a Somervillian”.
Many former students from Thatcher’s era were keen to use the opportunity to attack her for not using her success to boost the prospects of other women. One alumna, in her 60s, called the Baroness “a bad Somervillian.” However, a Porter spoke emotionally of how, in his native Poland, Thatcher is revered for her role in ending communism. One student present at the discussion commented that he “had never seen so many jealous old ladies in one room,” but that “it was a lovely way to relax post-collections.”
Thatcher visited Somerville several times since graduating with a Chemistry degree in 1947, a time when the college was all-female.
The panel discussion included a hostile former student and three current students including David Railton and Tom Allsup, the ex- and current JCR Presidents respectively. The consensus in the room praised the acting of Meryl Streep but would have preferred more coverage of her time in office rather than as an old lady with dementia.