Mrs Ed Miliband’s role in “banned” TV show revealed

Teenage Justine Thornton appeared in controversial sitcom Hardwicke House

Labour Party First Lady Justine Thornton played a rebellious schoolgirl in a 1980s sitcom that was pulled from transmission following a public outcry over its content.


Thornton, 40 – who wed Labour leader Ed Miliband this afternoon – is now a respected barrister, but as a teenager she pursued a career as a TV actress.

In the clip below, Thornton is nearly discernible as the redheaded pink and green blob to the left, playing rebellious schoolgirl Erica opposite Pam Ferris and Roy Kinnear in the pilot episode of Hardwicke House.

The anarchic sitcom began its run on ITV in February 1987 but was taken off the air after just two of seven episodes had been broadcast, following outraged reactions from viewers and the press.

A critic at The Times described it as “a degeneration of the academic misrule of the St Trinian’s films” while TV watchdog the IBA received numerous complaints from members of the public.

Shown before the watershed, Hardwicke House fielded a cast of grotesque characters including a sadistic English teacher and a deputy headmaster with an overenthusiastic interest in the sixth-form girls’ gymnastics team, and a penchant for providing extra-curricular “biology lessons” to the younger boys.

It also featured scenes in which a pupil was electrocuted and another was dropped down a stairwell.

Of course, times change. An ITV online message board about the show is now filled with posts from fans clamouring for it to be made available on ITV Player – although whether Justine Thornton’s appearance is a motivating factor in the campaign is unclear.

Miss Thornton’s acting days also took in ITV children’s drama series Dramarama before she made the decision to pursue a career in law.

But when she tied the knot with Mr Milliband this afternoon, we’re sure there was no need to draw on the skills she learnt as a teenager – all the emotion on the big day will have been real.