Dickens would have been pro-Palestine, Miriam Margolyes tells Queen’s festival

Actress Miriam Margolyes has claimed that if author Charles Dickens was alive today then he would have supported the Palestinian people.

The Harry Potter film series star, 83, who has been outspoken about her pro-Palestine views amid the war in Gaza, was speaking at the Queen’s Reading Room Festival at Hampton Court Palace on Saturday evening.

The audience included the Queen, BBC Sport presenter Clare Balding and her wife Alice Arnold as well as members of the public.

Queen’s Reading Room Literary Festival
Gyles Brandreth and Miriam Margolyes (Chris Jackson/PA)

Margolyes was asked by broadcaster and trustee of the Queen’s Reading Room charity, Gyles Brandreth, about when she first discovered the writer of David Copperfield and Oliver Twist.

She told the What The Dickens! Miriam Margolyes And Friends session: “When I was 11, I read Oliver Twist, that was the first one. And I just loved it.

“It was all about criminals. And I enjoyed the danger of it, the humour of it. But I was mystified because of the (reference to the) Jews and I’m Jewish.

“And I thought… why is he talking about the slimy Jew (Fagin) sliding along the page, and I was concerned about this. I didn’t realise that antisemitism was part of life.

“And don’t worry, I am very political and I am very pro-Palestine, I just want that to be very clear, and so would Dickens if he was (here)… but it fascinated me and so I was drawn into that world and I never left. ”

Margolyes did theatrical Dickens-associated readings alongside other actors including Karl Collins, Miranda actress Patricia Hodge, Tipping The Velvet actress Rachael Stirling and Game Of Thrones star Julian Glover.

Queen’s Reading Room Literary Festival
The Queen’s Reading Room Festival took place at Hampton Court Palace (Chris Jackson/PA)

Brandreth asked Collins about being in Doctor Who, and Margolyes chimed in saying she was in the long-running science fiction series but did not know which episode.

“I don’t know what it was called, my character was called the Meep,” Margolyes said.

Collins replying saying: “Oh did you do the voice of the Meep, I was in that episode.”

She said: “Oh, well, I never met you.”

Collins was in The Star Beast special, where Margolyes lent her voice to an evil furry creature called the Meep, and he portrayed Donna Noble’s (Catherine Tate’s) husband Shaun Temple.