Bonnie Langford fury after Rishi Sunak’s ‘retrain’ scheme: ‘Don’t underestimate the Arts!’

Bonnie Langford says her EastEnders schedule is 'crazy'

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The British actress, 56, starred in Doctor Who, EastEnders, Dancing On Ice and more during her five decades in showbusiness. She returns to BBC screens tonight in Pointless Celebrities alongside Arthur Smith, Annabel Giles, Tony Hawks, Melinda Messenger, Les Dennis and Richard Herring. In the quiz show, hosted by Richard Osman and Alexander Armstrong, they will try to come up with the least likely answers given in a public poll.

Langford was seven years old when she made her stage debut on the BBC talent show Opportunity Knocks.

This led to her landing roles in the theatres and in films including Bugsy Malone, Wombling Free and more.

As an adult, she starred alongside some of the nation’s biggest stars including Doctor Who actors Colin Baker and Sylvester McCoy. 

In recent years, she returned to fame once again in Dancing On Ice back in 2006, which reignited her career in the theatre. 

For three years from 2015, she played Carmel Kazemi in EastEnders and was honoured with the British Soap Award for Best Newcomer.

Despite leaving the BBC soap three years ago, Langford didn’t rule out a return to the show.

Last year, she told Entertainment Daily she would “never say never” and admitted she “loved being there”.

Langford said she would be tempted due to enjoying her time in the soap but also because: “I’m an actor, I’ve got to work.”

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This response led to a question about how she felt the Government was doing during the coronavirus pandemic. 

She claimed it had been “extremely difficult” for those working in the Arts due to theatres being closed and productions either stalled or halted.

In what seemed to be a veiled attack on Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s call for people to “retrain”, Langford launched into a rant. 

She claimed the thing that was “hardest of all” for people in the industry was individuals who put pressure on performers to change career paths. 

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It followed Mr Sunak’s comments on ITV last year that struggling members of the public should “adapt” and “retrain”.

Many interpreted this as a direct attack against the Arts – which the MP sternly denied. 

In response to the furore, Langford said: “There are certain people in the world who have turned around and said we should retrain because our jobs are not viable.”

She branded their calls “really awful” and reiterated the important role of the Arts in society.

Langford argued: “What would everybody be doing if for example there was not any telly, any music, there wasn’t any art or film?”

She claimed we would “all be absolutely falling apart” and believed it would lead to a “dystopian” world. 

The actress stated: “So don’t underestimate the power of the Arts.”

Langford claimed people in the industry were “prepared to work for a living” and hated having “to sit around”.

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She believed freelancers’ “resting time” was often construed as relaxing, where in reality it was time spent “trying to get another job”.

Langford said it was “annoying” when people told her: “Oh, you’re resting.”

Instead, she claimed it was more “difficult” because of the uncertainty of work, while trying to pay bills and her mortgage.

The actor, who marked 50 years in the entertainment industry last year, said “no one” in the industry expected “to be given anything for nothing”.

She continued: “We do pay our tax like everybody else and in fact sometimes a heck of a lot and it can feel difficult.”

In a plea, Langford urged people not to dismiss the Arts and argued that they contributed a large amount to society. 

For this reason, she felt those who were told to “retrain” were “really awful”.

She added: “It’s my job, it pays my mortgage and my tax and I need to be able to do it.

“Hopefully we can really come back and show what’s been missed.”

Bonnie Langford stars in Pointless Celebrities, which airs at 5.45pm on BBC One.

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