It’s fair to say 1971 was a remarkable year for world-renowned Birkenhead stage and screen star Glenda Jackson.
She collected a Best Actress Oscar for her performance as Gudrun Brangwen in the movie Women in Love and played the lead in the ground-breaking BBC drama Elizabeth R.
Jackson portrayed Elizabeth again alongside Vanessa Redgrave in the film Mary Queen of Scots and played Alex Greville in the pioneering movie drama Sunday Bloody Sunday.
She also signalled her future political ambitions by trying to collect for the charity Shelter at the door of 10 Downing Street.
The door remained firmly shut, but the policemen on duty were happy to contribute a few coppers to her cause!
To cap it all, 1971 saw Jackson perhaps reach the pinnacle of her career – playing Cleopatra in one of Ernie’s plays on the hugely popular Morecambe and Wise TV show!
Carrying a standard bearing the legend Luton FC, she delivered the classic line: ‘All men are fools and what makes them so is having beauty like what I have got.’
Jackson’s first steps on stage were taken as a teen with the Townswomen’s Guild drama group in West Kirby.
Born in Birkenhead in May 1936, she was a pupil at West Kirby Grammar School for Girls and worked at Boots before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) in 1954.
An early photo shows Jackson, second right, at the age of 20 with fellow RADA students Pauline Devaney, Neville Jacobson, Marian Diamond and Jack Hedley.
Devaney became a writer, while Diamond featured in the TV series Sherlock Holmes and the Avengers. Hedley appeared in a number of films including Lawrence of Arabia and the Longest Day.
Jackson was still at RADA when she made her professional stage debut in Terence Rattigan’s play Separate Tables in 1957.
Six years in repertory theatre followed until she joined the Royal Shakespeare Company in 1964. Her breakthrough role was that of Charlotte Corday, the assassin of Jean-Paul Marat, in the Peter Weiss production of Marat/Sade in 1965.
She went to Paris and Broadway with the play and also appeared in the 1967 film version.
It was not her big-screen debut. In 1963 she had a brief part in Lindsay Anderson’s kitchen-sink drama This Sporting Life starring Richard Harris.
Jackson also played Ophelia in Peter Hall’s production of Hamlet and starred in the psychological drama Negatives in 1968.
In 1969, she portrayed Gudrun Brangwen in Ken Russell’s movie adaption of the D.H. Lawrence novel Women in Love. Her passionate performance won her the 1971 Best Actress Oscar ahead of Ali McGraw in Love Story and Sarah Miles in Ryan’s Daughter.
Jackson then played Antonina Miliukova, the partner of composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovksy, in Ken Russell’s 1970 film the Music Lovers.
Realism was taken to a new level in the ground-breaking BBC TV drama Elizabeth R, broadcast in 1971. Jackson had her head shaved to play Elizabeth in old age.
She also endured a soaking when the young queen entered the Tower of London in the rain. As our photo shows, hoses were sprayed on the cast as they came through the infamous Traitors’ Gate.
Elizabeth R followed the 1970 series the Six Wives of Henry VIII, starring Keith Michell, with some actors reprising their roles. They included Rosalie Crutchley as Catherine Parr, Basil Dignam as Bishop Gardiner and Bernard Hepton as Cranmer.
Jackson won an Emmy Award for her performance and portrayed Queen Elizabeth again in another 1971 film, Mary Queen of Scots.
Just to wrap up an extraordinary year, Jackson earned an Oscar nomination for her role in John Schlesinger’s movie Sunday Bloody Sunday.
It told the story of a spirited bisexual artist, played by Murray Head, and his relationships with a divorced recruitment consultant (Jackson) and a Jewish doctor (Peter Finch).
While she wasn’t filming in 1971, Jackson found time to collect for Shelter. Perhaps it was an echo of her future political career as she left acting in 1992 to be elected as the MP for Hampstead and Highgate.
She became a junior minister in Tony Blair’s government with responsibility for transport in London, but eventually returned to acting in 2015.
At the end of a momentous 1971, Jackson was voted the sixth most popular star at the British box office.
The only surprise was that she wasn’t number one.