BAZ BAMIGBOYE: The truth about the lost hero of the white helmets

0

Emma Winberg wants stars ‘passionate about the truth’ to portray her and her late husband James Le Mesurier in a television drama being developed about the couple and their work with Syria Civil Defense, known as the White Helmets.

“There are so many great actors,” Winberg told me from her home in Amsterdam. “The bottom line is who thinks it’s good for them.”

The couple had been married for just over a year when Le Mesurier, 48, was found dead in November 2019, apparently after falling from a balcony in their Istanbul home.

Emma Winberg and husband James Le Mesurier (pictured together) in Istanbul

Emma Winberg and husband James Le Mesurier (pictured together) in Istanbul

His death caused shock waves through the international community in Turkey, where he led the Mayday Rescue Foundation, which funded, trained and equipped White Helmet volunteers; and also in Syria, where the group rescued injured civilians.

Le Mesurier was known for his non-political humanitarianism. But his support of the White Helmets (so called because of their signature safety helmets) earned him the enmity of the Syrian and Russian governments, which launched aggressive disinformation campaigns tarnishing his reputation.

“That’s why I do this more than anything,” Winberg said of the television drama. “Even though the facts are there, the truth is hard to find out.”

Politics, war and the heroism of the emergency workers aside, the multi-part drama will be a tale of romance.

“There is a love story – and it was huge,” said Winberg.

She laughed at herself and added, “It’s something recognizable. So much of the rest is unfathomable.

This is very personal to me and it is important that James is portrayed accurately on an emotional level. Obviously it’s a drama, not a documentary, but it’s important that it’s true to who he was. ‘

Winberg has agreed to work closely with producer David Livingstone and a screenwriter and director once appointed.

Rescue teams evacuate a victim after air strikes hit a village in Idlib province, Syria

Rescue teams evacuate a victim after air strikes hit a village in Idlib province, Syria

Rescue teams evacuate a victim after air strikes hit a village in Idlib province, Syria

Members of the Syrian Civil Defense extinguish a fire in Aleppo province on March 5, 2021

Members of the Syrian Civil Defense extinguish a fire in Aleppo province on March 5, 2021

Members of the Syrian Civil Defense extinguish a fire in Aleppo province on March 5, 2021

Le Mesurier “always hated bullies,” she said; his sister told her he protected her when they were young. That was central to why he was attracted to the white helmets. He always stood up for the underdog. ‘

There will also be humor. On their wedding day – July 7, 2018 – England happened to play against Sweden in the quarter-finals of the World Cup.

The couple both had a Swedish-English background; yet their guests were all stoically silent about postponing the reception dinner until the game was over.

The couple bet that if Sweden won, Le Mesurier would take her last name. “If England won, I would be Le Mesurier,” she says. “Fortunately for him, England has won.”

Livingstone, who also produced the films Judy and Pride and Sky comedy Brassic, confirmed that it was still early days for the untitled drama.

Separately, Winberg has started writing a book about her life with Le Mesurier and their work with Mayday Rescue and the White Helmets, whose heroic efforts are continuing in Syria.

Finally a mouse in the hat!

With fingers, and Lord knows what else, crossed that there will be no hiccup in the reopening of the theater on May 17, the producer Adam Spiegel told me he felt ‘optimistic’ enough to gather a special troupe of actors to restart The Mousetrap the signs on the same date.

Spiegel has contracted a group of “household names and faces” who have appeared in classic TV dramas, hit soap operas and West End hits for a short season “as a symbol of his return.”

Folk like Derek Griffiths and Susan Penhaligon, Cassidy Janson (who won an Olivier for & Juliet), Danny Mac, Charlie Clements, Paul Bradley, Louise Jameson, David Rintoul and Nicholas Bailey.

Susan Penhaligon

Susan Penhaligon

Derek Griffiths

Derek Griffiths

Susan Penhaligon (left) and Derek Griffiths (right) are among the cast members of The Mousetrap

Charlie Clements

Charlie Clements

Danny Mac

Danny Mac

Other lead roles in the production are Charlie Clements (left) and Danny Mac (right)

David Rintoul

David Rintoul

Nicholas Bailey

Nicholas Bailey

Actors David Rintoul (left) and Nicholas Bailey (right) star in the theater production

“It’s a fun thing,” he said of his star ensemble. Agatha Christie’s whodunnit will celebrate its 70th year in the city in 2022.

Long ago, one of my ancient great aunts asked me how “your queen” is doing. And The Mousetrap? ‘.

She had visited London once, in the 1960s, and her lasting memories were of seeing Hare Maj at Trooping the Color – and watching the show.

The St Martin’s Lane Theater production has a staging that is ideal for performances with a social distance.

Two companies come into contact with illness and a regular company takes over when the ‘names’ leave. Producers take major financial risks when reopening in such uncertain times.

Louise Jameson

Louise Jameson

Sarah Moss

Sarah Moss

Stars Louise Jameson (left) and Sarah Moss (right) join the special company of actors to launch The Mousetrap

Paul Bradley

Paul Bradley

Joshua Griffin

Joshua Griffin

Paul Bradley (left) and Joshua Griffin (right) also appear to be appearing at the reopening.

Alexander Wolfe

Alexander Wolfe

Cassidy Janson

Cassidy Janson

Alexander Wolfe (left) and Cassidy Janson (right) are cast members