Maureen Lipman’s beloved Beattie made a surprise comeback this week in a blistering video tearing into Jeremy Corbyn.
Beattie made television history in British Telecom’s well-known 1980s advert, in which, on the phone to her grandson who lamented his poor exam performance, but passed pottery and sociology, she claimed: “You get an ‘ology, you’re a scientist.”
Lipman, 74, who plays Evelyn Plummer in Coronation Street, recreated the Jewish grandmother in a short clip produced by Mainstream, an anti-extremism campaign led by former Labour minister Ian Austin.
In character as Beattie, Lipman told her friend Nora: “Of course, we were all Labour, everybody voted Labour. I voted Labour all my life.
“You know what my late husband said? If you’re Jewish, they gave you your Labour Party badge the day after your circumcision. They gave with one hand, they took with the other.”
She added: “But this lot. This lot’s not Labour. They’re not socialists. You know what they are, Nora? They’re extremists, that’s what my Melvyn says, and he’s not often wrong.”
Speaking of accusations of institutional antisemitism in the Labour Party, she said: “The antisemitism, who would have believed that? The bullying, the hectoring, the driving out of good Jewish MPs, the sitting down with people he shouldn’t sit down with.”
On Labour’s policy proposal to roll out free broadband across homes in the UK, she said: “It’s taken me ten years Nora to learn how to Skype my grandchildren.
“I can do the shopping online, the dry goods, I can do the banking online so I don’t have to walk four miles to a bank that’s not even there and he wants to take it away and ruin it – a man who thinks you get out of Brexit with a revolving door.”
On her decision to revive the iconic character, Lipman told Jewish News: “Thirty years it’s taken me to shrug off Beattie. Why would I ruin what’s left of my career? That my life as a national treasure was perhaps less important than the rest of my life in an uncivilised country.”
She added that while she could “easily have written an article” on the subject, she hoped she could “move mountains with humour.”
Lipman told The Sun she had felt compelled to make the video to speak out against what she saw as “the flagrant antisemitism” that “made it impossible for me to vote Labour at this election.”
“It was only when big spender Corbyn announced that he would take control of broadband that I began to wonder what Beattie, newly liberated by computer literacy, would make of handing over that freedom to a bunch of profligate people with scant regard for her centrist sensibilities,” she added.