Boadicea:  Stationed Between Platform Nine and Ten at King’s Cross?

On Centre Stage.
Boadicea: Stationed Between Platform Nine and Ten at King’s Cross?
By Douglas Kennedy.

The only thing I remember about the one Harry Potter film I saw is when the young wizard with specs catches his train to Hogwarts from Platform 9 ¾ at London’s King’s Cross Station.
There’s a rather magical, and memorable scene, when the youngster jumps through a solid wall to make his historic train connection.
So while searching for information on the Warrior Queen, Boadicea, I was amazed to discover that there’s a theory – albeit more fancy than fact – that the great heroine of early Briton is buried between platforms nine and ten at King’s Cross.
It appears the area – the railway station was built on the site of a fever hospital in 1852 – was known in Boadicea’s time as Battle Bridge.
That was 61AD, when the fiery red-headed queen defeated the Romans at least three times and (eventually) became the stuff of legends.
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I mention all this because Boadicea – The Celtic Rock Opera – is about to open at Brisbane’s La Boite with prized home-grown singer Alison Ledger in the title role as well as a 50-strong cast and six-piece rock band.
(See the story below).
Originally, the Boadicea legend of a war-like red-headed women drew me to thinking about the red-head reputation for being fiery.
But while there was some interesting information on notions that they bruise easily, have a distinctive pigment known as pheomelanin and can be highly-strung, I found much of the so-called light hearted lists and websites bordering on the offensive.
So I abandoned no-core themes, such as nasty jokes about gingers, and a US South Park cartoon inspired practice, known as ‘kick a ginger day,’ and returned to my core theme of the women herself.
(I have learnt some things from our pollies if only of the use of core and non-core in public).
My most remarkable discovery was, that as a cultural icon, she all but disappeared without trace for several hundred years.
Apart from the play Bonduca from Beaumont and Fletcher (an early 17th century playwriting team who penned the comedy The Knight of the Burning Pestle), there’s very little before the Victorian era.

Oh, William Cowper bashed out an ode, Boadicea, in 1782, and there’s one or two musical pieces (notably one by Henry Purcell which incorporates Boadicea), but nothing you are likely to singalong to today.

No, it’s Queen Victoria we can thank for reinstating and shoving her up the hero charts to ferocious legendary spot and all because they shared the same name (or at least its meaning).

Boadicea was deemed to be the heroic embodiment of Victoria, who was known as the Mother-Empress of the modem Britons, and this was emphasised by their names both meaning Victory.

So if would appear that if the Warrior Queen had been a Doris or a Mabel she would still be as forgotten as the Roman soldiers, who eventually sent her to Kingdom Come or should that be King’s Cross?

Once the business became big news Victoria’s best known Poet Laureate, Alfred Lord Tennyson, knocked-up a poem, Boudicea, several ships were named for her and in 1905 the famous bronze statue finally popped up between Westminster Bridge and The Houses of Parliament.

(I say finally because the statue was Prince Albert’s idea, who commissioned it long before it was finished well after his death, and, incidentally, Victoria’s passing in 1901.)

In the 20th century there have been a couple of films, and TV shows, often corrupted historically for commercial considerations as well as books, and book references.

Among the actors who have played her are Phyllis Neilson-Terry, in the 1928 movie, America’s Alex Kingston, who played her as the Warrior Queen in 2003, and Sian Phillips in a 1978 British TV series.

In even more off-the-mark deviations she popped up in a 1997 episode of Xena: Warrior Princess and was the inspiration for a 1967 Hammer horror film The Viking Queen.

The Viking Queen?

Well, your guess is as good as mine!

I am also told there’s warrior characters in the mega hit War of Thrones, which could well be modelled on Boadicea, but I’ll leave that to the devotees to sort out.

Also if you Google images of Boadicea there’s all sorts of pictures – many drawings – of her in skimpy costumes that would have been the death of her, before the Romans got to her, in 61AD Briton.

Briton wasn’t exactly the bikini capital of the ancient world and I doubt even warrior queens went around in the intimate garment known today as the thong!
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I wonder what Boadicea would have made of all this let alone Queen Victoria who spent most of her life well covered from head to toe?

Still, Boadicea – The Celtic Rock Opera is at La Boite from May 27-June 7 – and it promises to be great fun.

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