Gemma salutes Dagenham's dames
Gemma Arterton couldn't help welling up with pride for the real Ford girls at the opening night of new West End musical Made In Dagenham.
The former Bond girl stars as Rita O'Grady who led the Ford sewing machinists' strike of 1968 in which they demanded equal pay for women.
Arterton had tears in her eyes as she was joined on stage for the curtain call by four of the original Dagenham ladies, Sheila Douglass, Vera Sime, Eileen Pullen and Gwent Davis.
The 28-year-old actress makes her singing debut in the show at the Adelphi Theatre in London.
A stellar audience joined in a standing ovation including David Walliams, Andrew Lloyd Webber, Mel C, Jennifer Eclair, Ben Miller and Rufus Hound.
Arterton, who looked stunning at the after party in a black PVC dress by Erdem, said: "It's an emotional part any way, but particularly tonight. I'm just so proud of the whole company and it's a subject very close to my heart, so I've invested a lot in it."
Speaking about the real Dagenham ladies, she said: "I was really moved then, I was very emotional, just to know that everything that we've been doing for the last three years is because of them. I was really proud, and just so grateful. And it was so lovely that they got this huge applause and I think they were quite overwhelmed.
"Every single night I think about them and I think about the continuing story of women's rights. It just feels so current and so vital."
The actress has given up drinking to preserve her voice, but confessed she planned to indulge to celebrate opening night.
She said: "I don't drink alcohol. I am going to have one glass of wine tonight. I steam every day and I try not shout or do anything to strenuous."
She admitted: " It's been a journey, that."