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Sally Hawkins heads a stellar cast in a warm and witty account of a strike for equal pay by female workers at Ford’s Dagenham factory in 1968.

Dry as the subject matter may sound, this is a hugely entertaining film, and instructive to boot.

Hawkins plays Rita O’Grady, the fast-talking, no-nonsense young sewing machinist who led 187 of her fellow women workers at the car plant on strike to be recognised as skilled workers and to get equal pay with their male colleagues.

The film occasionally resorts to caricatures as the workers line up against wicked management (ineffectual if they are British, slimy and appalling if they are American) and greedy or prejudiced union officials, but an impressive supporting cast – Bob Hoskins, Geraldine James, Rosamund Pike, Daniel Mays, Kenneth Cranham and Miranda Richardson among them – do a jolly good job of making their characters seem real and magnetic.

Incidentally, the strike, which took the ladies all the way to the powers-that-be at Westminster, was to prove groundbreaking and paved the way for the introduction of the Equal Pay Act two years later.