Maureen Lipman doubles-down in row over Helen Mirren's 'Golda' casting

‘They should have considered a Jewish actress’: Maureen Lipman doubles down in row over Helen Mirren playing Israeli PM Golda Meir but admits she is ‘contradicting herself’ – and says ‘it will be very good because she is sexy’

  • Dame Maureen Lipman criticised casting of Dame Helen Mirren as Golda Meir
  • Dame Helen plays Israel’s former prime minister Golda Meir in the film ‘Golda’
  • Ms Meir was the fourth Israeli leader and held the position from 1969-1974
  • Today Dame Maureen took to Good Morning Britain to clarify her comments 
  • Dame Maureen Lipman has today doubled-down on her comments about Helen Mirren’s casting as ex-Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, saying she believes directors should have considered a Jewish actress first – but that she expects the Oscar-winning star to be good at the role ‘because she’s sexy’.

    The Coronation Street actress said she thinks stars such as Tracey Ullman, Bette Midler and Barbara Streisand, who are Jewish, should have been considered for the starring role in upcoming film ‘Golda’.

    She also suggested 37-year-old American-star Scarlett Johansson, whose mother is from an Ashkenazi Jewish family, could have played the part.

    But the 75-year-old actress also admitted ‘contradicting’ herself over her previous comments, saying some of the debates over actors being able to play certain roles had been ‘crazy’.

    The 75-year-old also said she did not want to get to a stage where ‘only actors with scoliosis (a bend in the spine) could play Shakespeare’s Richard III’. 

    Despite her comments, she said she believed Dame Helen, 76, to be a good fit for the role as Ms Meir – affectionately labelled ‘the grandmother of the Jewish people’ – because ‘she is sexy’. 

    Dame Maureen also revealed that she had only met Dame Helen once – in a conversation about a relationship with a ‘dangerous man’.

    But she said she expects the Oscar-winning actress will ‘understand’ the contexts behind her comments. 

    The Coronation Street actress today said stars such as Tracy Ullman, Bette Milder and Barbara Streisand, who are Jewish, should have been considered for the starring role in upcoming film 'Golda'

    The Coronation Street actress today said stars such as Tracy Ullman, Bette Milder and Barbara Streisand, who are Jewish, should have been considered for the starring role in upcoming film ‘Golda’

    Dame Maureen's comments sparked fans to point out that she herself had played a vicar in a 2015 Red Nose Day special of the Vicar of Dibley. In the comedy special, Dame Maureen's character (pictured centre) competed with Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Emma Watson and Ruth Jones, Annette Crosbie for the job of archbishop

    Dame Maureen’s comments sparked fans to point out that she herself had played a vicar in a 2015 Red Nose Day special of the Vicar of Dibley. In the comedy special, Dame Maureen’s character (pictured centre) competed with Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Emma Watson and Ruth Jones, Annette Crosbie for the job of archbishop

    Ms Meir (pictured in 1969) was the fourth prime minister of Israel and held the position from 1969 until 1974

    A publicity image of the film Golda, where Dame Helen portrayed Ms Meir during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, showed Dame Helen covered in prosthetic to look more like the politician.

    A publicity image of the film Golda, where Dame Helen portrayed Ms Meir during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, showed Dame Helen covered in prosthetic to look more like the politician. 

    Lipman suggested 37-year-old American-star Scarlett Johansson (pictured), whose mother is from an Ashkenazi Jewish family, could have played the part

    Lipman suggested 37-year-old American-star Scarlett Johansson (pictured), whose mother is from an Ashkenazi Jewish family, could have played the part








    It comes after Dame Maureen, who is Jewish, sparked a row by questioning the casting of Dame Helen’s as Ms Meir – Israel’s first female Prime Minister.

    Dame Maureen previously said she felt uncomfortable at the casting of the multi award-winning actress, who is not Jewish, because the ‘Jewishness of (Meir’s) character is so integral’.

    However figures from the UK’s Jewish community defend the casting, including Rabbi Jonathan Romain who said: ‘You don’t have to be Jewish to play a Jew’.

    The times that Dame Maureen Lipman has played non-Jewish characters

    Up the Junction (1968) – Sylvie – A working class girl who befriends a wealthy young heiress

    The Smashing Bird I Used to Know (1969) – Sarah – A lesbian prisoner who befriends an inmate from a middle-class background  

    On Your Way, Riley (1985) – Kitty McShane – A fictional version of the real-life Irish actress  

    Educating Rita (1983) – Trish – A room mate of the titular character Rita

    Water (1985) – Margaret Thatcher – A fictional version of the real-life British prime minister

    Bookmark (1992) – Enid Blyton – A fictional version of the real life English writer 

    Coronation Street (2002) – Lillian Spencer – A relief manager who helps run the Rovers Return Inn

    Doctor Who (2006) – The Wire – An energy being villain that takes the souls of TV-watching Britons during Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation

    Holby City (2011) – Bonnie Walters – A patient at Holby City Hospital

    The Vicar of Dibley (2015) – Alicia – A Church of England vicar competing with five other women to become an archbishop

    Coronation Street (2018 to Present) – Evelyn Plummer – the grandmother of established character Tyrone Dobbs

     

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    Despite the criticism, Dame Maureen, who once played a Church of England reverend in the Vicar of Dibley, today doubled-down on her view.

    In an interview with Good Morning Britain, she said : ‘My feeling is, firstly, that Helen Mirren is a fine actress, and will be brilliant in the role and will green-light the film

    ‘And she will be very good because she is sexy and Golda Meir, believe it or not, was very sexy. She didn’t look it but read her book.

    ‘And I’ve seen shows about her before, so I have nothing against Helen playing it.

    ‘My query is should the casting directors looked first, and maybe they did, at Bette Midler, (Barbara) Streisand, Jennifer Connolly, Scarlet Johansson, or indeed, probably I would have gone with, Tracey Ullman, who is a brilliant actress.

    ‘But maybe they wouldn’t have green-light a film and maybe they have considered that Helen has Russian in her background and therefore she could play this Jewish women from Milwaukee.’

    Dame Maureen also admitted she herself had been questioned for playing an Irish Catholic, a role which was critiqued by the late Canadian film critic Milton Shulman. 

    ‘It’s a complicated argument, and I will end up contradicting myself, but say for example that, you wanted to cast a film about Ghandi, would it be alright, would there be a fuss, if you cast Salma Hayek say, a Mexican, probably Catholic?

    ‘Once I played an Irish Catholic, and Milton Shulman wrote a review: “Maureen Lipman playing an Irish Catholic is like Barbara Streisand playing mother Theresa”.

    ‘Now you might say “why not?”.’

    Asked if acting was about the skill of a person’s portrayal of a character, she joked: ‘Of course, and that’s why I would be arguing against myself, because as globalisation gets bigger, casting gets smaller.

    ‘And we are getting more and more tribal. So in the end, if you were doing the “Maureen Lipman Show” you would only be able to have a 75-year-old woman who was born in Northfield Road, Hull, with an overbite and myopia.

    ‘And it’s crazy, it’s not what it should be. 

    ‘But you’ve had a lot of things lately, like Javier Bardem has been criticised because he’s Spanish, not Cuban, in Meet the Ricardos – that’s nuts.

    ‘Jake Gyllenhaal has played a Persian when he’s American-Swedish, Rooney Mara has been criticised for playing a Native American. 

    Dame Maureen Lipman

    Dame Helen Mirren

    Actress Dame Maureen Lipman (left) said Dame Helen Mirren (right) should not have been asked to play the Israeli leader Golda Meir, adding that she was uncomfortable with the casting

    Dame Maureen suggested Barbara Streisand may have been a good fit for the role as Golda Meir

    Dame Maureen also suggested Bette Midler could have played the role of Gold Meir

    The Coronation Street actress said she thinks stars such as Tracey Ullman, Bette Midler (pictured right) and Barbara Streisand (pictured left), who are Jewish, should have been considered for the starring role in upcoming film ‘Golda’








    ‘My point here, and I’m contradicting myself, as I said, if the religion fires the character, then I honestly think you should look at that group that gender, if the character is gay I think you should see the gay actors first, see the Jewish actors first, if it doesn’t work out, fair enough, go ahead.

    ‘Clearly there will never be another Lawrence Olivier playing Othello, that’s probably right, although he was wonderful, or an Alec Guinness in A Passage to India – that’s been and gone – but we don’t want to get to a stage where Richard III has to be played by someone with Scoliosis, whose committed insanity.’ 

    Asked if she thinks she had upset Dame Helen with her comments, she said: ‘I don’t know Helen, I have met her once, we had one exchange. 

    ‘I was going out with a dangerous man at the time and she said “Ooh I would like to go out with a dangerous man”, and that was the conversation.

    ‘I’m sure that she of all people will understand what the headline was was not necessarily what the context was. So I’m not worried about that.’ 

    It is not clear if those behind the film, which is being directed by acclaimed Israeli director Guy Nattiv, had considered Jewish actresses for the role prior to Dame Helen’s casting. MailOnline has contacted representatives for comment. 

    Dame Maureen’s latest comments come as Rabbi Jonathan Romain, director of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, yesterday took to Twitter to express his view on the row, saying: ‘You don’t have to be Jewish to play a Jew’. 

    Taking to Twitter, Rabbi Romain, 67, wrote: ‘We had a discussion on this at Maidenhead Synagogue two weeks ago; the unanimous verdict was that actors should act – that’s what is their skill. 

    Rabbi Jonathan Romain, director of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, today took to Twitter to express his view on the row, saying: 'You don't have to be Jewish to play a Jew'

    Rabbi Jonathan Romain, director of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, today took to Twitter to express his view on the row, saying: ‘You don’t have to be Jewish to play a Jew’

    The first woman to be the prime minister of Israel who earned the nicknamed the ‘strong-willed grandmother of the Jewish people’: Who is Golda Meir?

    Born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev, present-day Ukraine, in 1898, Golda Meir would go on to become on of Israel’s most prominent political figures.

    Her father, Moshe, was a carpenter in the city, then under the control of the Russia empire.

    She faced a difficult life as a child, later recording in her autobiography that her first memory was of her parents boarding up their home for fear of anti-Semitic violence.

    Meir grew up with two sisters, Sheyna and Tzipke, as well as five other siblings who died in childhood.

    In 1903, her father Kiev for New York City, while her family moved to Pinsk in modern-day Belarus.

    After finding a job and in Milwaukee, Moshe moved his family over the United States, where Meir’s mother Blume Mabovitch ran a grocery store.

    Born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev, present-day Ukraine, in 1898, Golda Meir would go on to become on of Israel's most prominent political figures. Pictured: Golda Meir standing with U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1973

    Born Golda Mabovitch in Kiev, present-day Ukraine, in 1898, Golda Meir would go on to become on of Israel’s most prominent political figures. Pictured: Golda Meir standing with U.S. President Richard Nixon in 1973

    Meir showed leadership skills at a young age, organizing a fundraiser to pay for her classmates’ textbooks and forming the American Young Sisters Society.

    While at high school she joined the Labour Zionist Youth Movement and became a keen Socialist Zionist. 

    She married sign painter Morris Meyerson in 1917 after the pair met in Denver four years earlier. She remained married to him until his death in 1951. The pair had two children together.

    As part of a pre-condition of their marriage, Meir agreed to settle in Palestine, but the couple were delayed due to the US entering the First World War.

    The pair made the move in 1921 with her sister Sheyna, living in an international community of Jews known as a kibbutz. They later moved to Tel Aviv before settling in Jerusalem.

    It was here she became secretary of the Working Women’s Council, a job which meant she returned to the US for two years as an emissary.

    During her time back in America she was the Jewish observer from Palestine at the Évian Conference – where a discussion took place on Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi persecution in Germany.

    Meir continued to rise up the ranks in Jewish politics and was one of 24 signatories of the Israeli Declaration of Independence in 1948.

    She was selected as Minister Plenipotentiary to Moscow, carrying the first Israeli-issued passport, before being elected to the Knesset and becoming Israel’s Labor Minister – a position she held from 1949 until 1956.

    During Meir's (pictured in 1973) time as premier she faced dealing with the fourth Israel-Arab conflict - which came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. The short 19 day war ended in an Israeli victory

    During Meir’s (pictured in 1973) time as premier she faced dealing with the fourth Israel-Arab conflict – which came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. The short 19 day war ended in an Israeli victory

    Meir later served as Foreign Minister, before stepping back from her role in 1966 after being diagnosed with lymphoma.

    However she returned to front line politics in 1969 after being elected by her party to succeed leader Levi Eshkol following his sudden death.

    She became Israel’s fourth Prime Minister – and the first female Prime Minister – a role she held until 1974.

    During her time as premier she faced dealing with the fourth Israel-Arab conflict – which came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. The short 19 day war ended in an Israeli victory.

    But her government became plagued by infighting and questions over Israel’s lack of preparation for conflict.

    Her party won the next election, but her coalition government lost seats and was unable to form a majority, leading to her resignation.

    Two years later, in 1975, Meir was awarded the Israel Prize for her special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

    In 1978, five years after her resignation, Meir died of lymphoma at the age of 80. 

    However her legacy lives on in Israel, where, while her success as a prime minister is debated, she is widely praised for her work as a labour and foreign minister.

    Today she is described as the ‘strong-willed grandmother of the Jewish people’, while others have referred to her as the original ‘Iron Lady’ before British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.

    In the Muslim world however her legacy is one of controversy, having been quoted in 1969 in the Times as saying: ‘There were no such thing as Palestinians’. 

    In 2019, the American Muslims for Palestine, a US-based group dedicated to educating the American public about Palestine, said: ‘She had no problem with forcibly removing people from their homes and kicking them out of their country in order that Israel may exist.’

    In the US Meir has several buildings named after her, including a school and a library in Milwaukee, where she lived her early years, while there is a bust of her at Golda Meir Square, New York City.

    In Israel she has has a road named after her, Golda Meir Boulevard, Jerusalem, and a performing arts centre, Gold Meir Centre for Performing Arts, which is home to the Israeli Opera. 

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    ‘You don’t have to be Jewish to play a Jew or orphaned to be an orphan. But it’s wise to have an adviser from whatever is the context.’  

    Meanwhile, Mr Pollard, who was up until last month the editor of the weekly newspaper, Tweeted: ‘I adore Maureen Lipman but she couldn’t be more wrong on this. 

    ‘The logic of her position is that the only character any actor can play is themselves.’

    However journalist Nicole Lambert, responded to say the position is ‘more nuanced’.

    She wrote: ‘I think a more nuanced take is that sometimes these roles of brilliant Jewish women should sometimes be played by Jewish women. And they never are.’

    The row comes after Dame Maureen spoke to the Jewish Chronicle and gave her view on the casting.

    In November a publicity image of the film Golda, where Dame Helen portrayed Ms Meir during the Yom Kippur War in 1973, showed Dame Helen covered in prosthetic to look more like the politician. 

    Ms Meir was the fourth prime minister of Israel and held the position from 1969 until 1974.

    During her time as premier she faced dealing with the fourth Israel-Arab conflict – which came to be known as the Yom Kippur War. The short 19 day war ended in a Israel victory.

    But her government became plagued by infighting and questions over Israel’s lack of preparation for conflict.

    Her party won the next election, but her coalition government lost seats and was unable to form a majority, leading to her resignation.

    Two years later, in 1975, Meir was awarded the Israel Prize for her special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

    Speaking about the casting of Dame Helen for the role of Golda, Dame Maureen said: ‘The Jewishness of the character is so integral. 

    ‘I’m sure she will be marvellous, but it would never be allowed for Ben Kingsley to play Nelson Mandela. You just couldn’t even go there.’

    Dame Maureen’s comments sparked fans to point out that she herself had played a vicar in a 2015 Red Nose Day special of the Vicar of Dibley.

    In the comedy special, Dame Maureen’s character competed with Dawn French, Jennifer Saunders, Emma Watson and Ruth Jones, Annette Crosbie for the job of archbishop.

    It is later revealed there are five positions open and Dawn French’s character is the only one not to be selected.

    She returns to find she has been replaced in her Dibley role by another vicar, played by presenter Fiona Bruce.

    It comes after Tamsin Greig told The Daily Telegraph last month she ‘probably shouldn’t’ have played a Jewish mother in Channel 4’s Friday Night Dinner. 

    Ms Greig is a practising Christian, although does have Jewish ancestry.

    But Patrick Marber, the playwright who directed Sir Tom Stoppard’s Leopoldstadt, said he did not think ‘lived experience’ should be taken into consideration when casting for roles.

    He said to force actors to have experienced lives similar to the characters they play would deny the actor the challenge and right to impersonate someone else.

    Sarah Silverman, the US comedian, has previously slammed the casting of non-Jewish actress Kathryn Hahn as Joan Rivers, calling it ‘Jewface’.

    Elliot Levey, who is currently playing a German Jew in Cabaret in the West End, called the argument a ‘dystopian nightmare’ as he criticised the idea of ‘people showing their papers to authenticate Jewish ancestry’.

    Dame Helen is a supporter of Israel, adding her name to an open letter rejecting a cultural boycott of the country.

    While promoting her film The Debt, in which she played a retired Mossad agent, she was asked by The New York Times whether she might be ‘a secret Jew’.

    She said she ‘wouldn’t be surprised’.

    Last year internet trolls branded Dame Helen ‘racist’ and described her as a ‘well known Zionist and Israel-worshipper’ after taking on the role of wartime prime minister Ms Meir.

    The film, Golda, is set during the Yom Kippur War in 1973 when Arab states attacked Israel.

    Dame Helen described Meir as ‘a formidable, intransigent and powerful leader’ and said it was ‘a great challenge to portray her at the most difficult moment of her extraordinary life’.

    But critics on social media described the production as ‘fascism’, ‘sick’ and ‘tasteless’. 

    One Twitter user, who said they were ‘Palestinian and proud’, wrote: ‘How sick making a biopic on criminal Golda Meir and yes no surprise Helen Mirren the racist is happy to portray the pure distorted version of a disgusting individual.’

    Another wrote: ‘Helen Mirren doing a film about the first female prime minister of Israel is a slap in the face to all the people of Palestine, they are literally celebrating taking over Palestine and taking families out of their homes, murdering children, families! Tasteless film!’

    One social-media user said it was ‘hugely disappointing that Helen Mirren is volunteering for this role’, while another wrote: ‘More fascism to show how ‘wonderful’ Israel is.’ 

    Born in Ukraine in 1898 before moving to the US as a child, Meir made history in 1969 as Israel’s first female prime minister.

    She soon provoked international controversy, saying: ‘There were no such thing as Palestinians.’ 

    Meir faced huge criticism in Israel for failing to adequately prepare for the threat of war, despite receiving word that Arab forces were gathering for an attack. 

    Following the backlash for her handling of the war, Meir announced her resignation in 1974. She died in 1978 aged 80.

    Dame Helen has faced criticism in the past for saying that she was a ‘believer’ in Israel and that she rejected calls to boycott the country.

    The film also stars Call My Agent! actress Camille Cottin as Meir’s personal assistant and Israeli Lior Ashkenazi as her chief of staff.  

     

    Of course Dame Helen can play a Jew, darling. It’s called acting! Maureen Lipman once played an Anglican vicar – but she complains that Helen Mirren is the wrong religion to be cast as Golda Meir, writes JONATHAN MYERSON

    By Jonathan Myerson for the Daily Mail

    The phone first rang just after breakfast. And that initial call was followed over the next few hours by a volley of texts.

    All were from Jewish theatre colleagues and all were on the same topic: Maureen Lipman’s decision to go off the deep end about Helen Mirren, aggrieved that the non-Jewish actress had been chosen to play the former Israeli prime minister Golda Meir.

    According to Lipman, ‘the Jewishness of the character is so integral’ that it is unthinkable for a gentile to so much as attempt it, even an actress of Dame Helen Mirren’s versatility and experience.

    ‘But she’s played Jews before!’ a director friend told me. ‘One Mossad agent, one victim of Nazi looting. No one complained.’

    An actor, who had recently played both Nazis and Holocaust survivors for me, texted: ‘She’s not “Jewing-up”, she’s “Goldaing-up”. Get real!’

    The cause of all the fuss is a new film called Golda, set during the Yom Kippur War of 1973 when Israel came as close to total annihilation as it ever has.

    Dame Maureen told the Jewish Chronicle that she was ‘not comfortable’ about the title role being given to a non-Jewish person.

    She added: ‘I’m sure she will be marvellous, but it would never be allowed for Ben Kingsley to play Nelson Mandela. You just couldn’t even go there.’

    Clearly, no one is suggesting that there should be a return to ‘blackface’ roles, but barring Dame Helen from playing such a part is nonsensical. To paraphrase Laurence Olivier’s famous quip to Dustin Hoffman: ‘Maureen darling, it’s called acting!’

    Yes, looking at the advance photos from the production, Dame Helen does require the help of facial prosthetics to appear authentic in the role. But this isn’t to make her look Jewish, it’s to make her look like Golda Meir.

    I rather despair of Lipman’s criticisms because I dread a world in which actors and characters are separated into silos.

    If all Jewish characters must be played by Jewish actors, where does it end?

    Must gay roles become the exclusive preserve of gay actors? Should Jews be banned from portraying Christians and vice versa?

    Dame Helen Mirren described Golda Meir as 'a formidable, intransigent and powerful leader'

    Dame Helen Mirren described Golda Meir as ‘a formidable, intransigent and powerful leader’

    If so, that would certainly have precluded Dame Maureen from donning a dog-collar to play a Church of England vicar vying to become an archbishop, no less, in The Vicar Of Dibley, as she did in a Red Nose special in 2015.

    Do we really want a world where we live in these compartments and never stray? As my breakfast texters reminded me, this isn’t Dame Maureen’s first foray into this dispute.

    All too recently, she complained of ‘cancel culture’ making life impossible for comedians, for fear of giving offence. They were quick to point out that this plea for outspokenness hardly tallies with her reaction to Mirren’s casting.

    Nor is it the first time that Maureen has railed against what she might consider to be ‘gentile mission-creep’.

    Back in 2019 she attacked the West End musical Falsettos, which featured a Jewish family, for insufficient Jewish involvement both on stage and off.

    But even then I thought that she was missing what I consider the best thing about being Jewish in Britain — our invisibility.

    I am Jewish on my father’s side, and thanks to his genes I walk around with a classic Jewish nose and Ashkenazi eye-bags which seem to become more grey and more ponderous every year.

    Then there’s my surname of Myerson — which is not only the name of the first Jewish Miss America but also Golda Meir’s original married name (sadly, no relation to me either).

    As a result, there are plenty of European countries in which many people’s Jew-dar would instantly flash red at the mere sight of me.

    In the UK, there is rarely so much as a flicker. The fact is that it does not cross most British people’s minds even to ask the question.

    Some UK rabbis might bemoan the extent of this integration but surely that is the better way — the only way — forward?

    Rabbi Jonathan Romain, the high-profile director of Maidenhead Synagogue in Berkshire, soon came out against Dame Maureen’s intervention. ‘You don’t have to be Jewish to play a Jew, or orphaned to be an orphan,’ he tweeted yesterday.

    While Stephen Pollard, editor at large of the Jewish Chronicle, the very paper that broke the story, said: ‘I adore Maureen Lipman but she couldn’t be more wrong on this. The logic of her position is that the only character any actor can play is themselves.’

    This isn’t the first time the issue of so-called ‘Jewface’ has raised its head, of course. The role of the American comedienne Joan Rivers in a forthcoming biopic has been given to a non-Jewish actress called Kathryn Hahn.

    Ms Rivers made no secret of her Jewishness but you would be hard-put to say she looked especially Semitic.

    Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (1898 - 1978) at the Socialist International Congress in Eastbourne, Sussex, in 1969

    Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir (1898 – 1978) at the Socialist International Congress in Eastbourne, Sussex, in 1969

    But that didn’t stop Sarah Silverman, the U.S. comedian, criticising the casting. ‘One could argue that a gentile playing Joan Rivers correctly would be doing what is actually called ‘Jewface’.

    Of course, the very word ‘Jewface’ is designed to make us think of ‘Blackface’ — a genre which involved white minstrel performers painting their faces to do comedy routines about black people — and all the horrible implications of that. But there really is no comparison.

    First, Blackface is gruesomely freighted not only with the long history of white colonialism, but also the casual appropriation of black culture.

    When I see Dame Helen’s remarkable prosthetic transformation, I do not think: ‘Oh, there’s another goy dressing up as a Jew.’

    Nor do I have any cause to remember how much Jewish cultural life has been subsumed by White European culture — largely because it hasn’t. If anything, it’s the other way round. Jewish humour has become effectively the dominant form of U.S. humour, and therefore worldwide humour.

    And thanks to the first Hollywood and Broadway moguls, Jewish storytelling — everything from schmaltzy sentimentality to plangent music — became central to 20th-century film and theatre.

    But do actors, whether Jewish-looking or not, want to be compartmentalised as Jewish? You can’t criticise any actor — most of whom are not Dames or Sirs and spend their time scrabbling for the next job — for avoiding that.

    Nor is Helen Mirren in the same position as Eddie Redmayne, who expressed his regret that he played a trans character in the 2015 romantic drama The Danish Girl and now feels that he should have left the field open to a trans actor.

    His mea culpa followed a similar one last year from the director of My Left Foot in which Daniel Day-Lewis won an Oscar for his portrayal of a character with cerebral palsy.

    Jim Sheridan, a six-time Academy Award nominee, said that he does ‘not think it’s right any more’ for ‘able-bodied’ actors to play disabled characters. But the disabled and the trans communities are horribly under-represented in casting throughout stage and screen. Sorry, Maureen, Jewish actors cannot say the same.

    Of course, if you’ve made it your thing to play Jewish — and as such Dame Maureen is a National Treasure — then to see a fellow Dame mopping up the juicy role of Golda Meir must be frustrating

    But please, Dame Maureen, let’s not accidentally go down the same road as Karl Lueger, the infamously anti-Semitic mayor of Vienna between 1897 and 1910, who declared, ‘I decide who is a Jew’.

    • Jonathan Myerson is an Oscar-nominated screenwriter and director. All episodes of his latest project, a podcast called Nuremberg, are available on BBC Sounds.