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Meet the Bondagers


"Its my job as first woman, to set a good pace, ye ken..."
thumbail of Betty (Susan Stewart) Betty (Susan Stewart) click here to view large images

Betty is the oldest of the women and is the ‘first woman’ so in charge of the others.  She is firm but good humoured and very competent.  She chaffs the others and can take some gentle chaffing herself.   She is confident in her skills and knowledge but is kindly to the other bondagers.   She would have a pocket watch for time keeping – she may have carried a whistle to enable her to call all the bondagers together for breaks etc.

We can imagine that Betty has been away from home like Annie (see below) but back again, through change in circumstances, to support her parents.  This would mean she had a great fellow feeling with Annie and they were friends.

Betty likes to tell stories of her earlier life but likes to be pressed about it and always demurs.

Susan Stewart played Betty.

"I liked my character, she was well thought out and this made it easier to portray her in the scenes I was in...

...I enjoyed working with people that I hadn't worked wiith before -amazing fun!"

-Susan Stewart


"At least when we're finished, we're finished..."
thumbail of Annie (Rena Telfer) Annie (Rena Telfer) click here to view large images

Annie is slightly younger than Betty.  She is single and lives with her mother who is ailing. She may have ended up in this position because in large families there was often a child, very often a daughter, who was trapped by circumstances as the carer for elderly parents.   Early in her life she may have been her father’s bondager and then later left home to marry.  When widowed she was unable to keep the cottage for herself and had returned home to be her father’s bondager again.  Annie’s father dies and then Annie (as sometimes happened) is allowed to keep the cottage in return for bondage work. The alternative for Annie’s mother would most likely be the workhouse which was always the last resort and much dreaded. 

Annie has had quite a difficult life but is content with her lot and takes a pride in her skills.  She speaks a bit sharply but without malice.  It is just her way.

Annie was played by Rena Telfer. 

"For generations my family have lived and worked on both sides of The Borders, therefore it was very special to be involved in a project which portrayed an aspect of life which would be so familiar to them – and to speak in my ‘mither’ tongue. The camaraderie among those involved also gave an idea of what it would feel like to be part of such a closely-knit community...

...I enjoyed playing my no-nonsense, almost abrasive character very much, but liked the fact that she had a soft core – usually well hidden!"

-Rena Telfer

Rena also acted as dialect adviser on the film.


"I've got a braw hat though! Look..."
thumbail of Maggie (Norma MIles) Maggie (Norma MIles) click here to view large images

Maggie is quite young (though older than Lizzie and Sally) and is a bit of a flibbertigibbet.  She enjoys spending her money but she is good-natured and caring.  Getting more confident in her role and the necessary skills she speaks out and does a bit of chaffing herself.  She is her brother George’s bondager and gets on well with his wife Lena and is caring about their children. Maggie has worked alongside Betty and Annie for a few years and though holding them in great respect she knows them well enough and is confident enough to speak up and speak back a little.  She is an optimist, funny, lively and bouncing with youthful energy.  She is happy in her work although grumbles a bit about stone picking and the potatoes.  Looking forward to the next stage in her life which will be marriage to Tam and the responsibility of bringing up children and making a home.

Norma Miles played Maggie.

"I enjoyed being involved in the film as I see this as part of my heritage.  My father's family (Piercy) hailed from Kilham.  I have heard many tales from him about the area and the hirings."

- Norma Miles

Lizzie and Sally

"We'd like to go into service wouldn't we Sally?"
thumbail of Lizzie (Left) and Sally Lizzie (Left) and Sally click here to view large images

Lizzie and Sally are young, close in age and very good friends.  They are quite childlike and giggly often nudging and whispering.  They listen to the older workers in awe just murmuring a bit here and there. They reveal later in the scene that they do have their dreams of something ‘better’.  They come out of their shell a little and talk more at the end of the scene.  In fact they burst in with Lizzie announcing they’d like to go into service. They just have to blurt it out. 

Lizzie was played by Joanna Beveridge.

Sally was played by Rebekah Riseborough.

"I loved the giggliness of Sally and Lizzie, and how they obviously shared a strong bond through the work they did. I was also fascinated to see how a film was put together and what painstaking work it is - no wonder a feature length film takes years to do!"

-Joanna Beveridge