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Monday, 3 February, 2003, 12:49 GMT
Plath film angers daughter
Gwyneth Paltrow on location in Cambridge
Gwyneth Paltrow is playing Sylvia Plath in the film
The daughter of poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath has written a poem attacking a BBC-backed film of her mother's life and death.

Frieda Hughes, who was two years old when Plath committed suicide in 1963, has used her own poetry to criticise the film-makers and the "peanut eaters, entertained at my mother's death".

Frieda Hughes
Now they want to make a film
For anyone lacking the ability
To imagine the body, head in oven
Orphaning children

Frieda Hughes
Oscar-winning actress Gwyneth Paltrow will play Plath in the film, called Ted and Sylvia, which follows the success of another BBC film about a literary giant, Iris, about Iris Murdoch.

BBC Films, the corporation's movie-making arm, has rejected charges of insensitivity, saying the film was made in a "responsible and unsensational" way.

Frieda Hughes' poem includes the accusation that the BBC had turned her mother into a commercial product - a "Sylvia Suicide Doll".

The poem will be published in the next issue of Tatler magazine. Frieda Hughes refused to co-operate with film-makers and denied permission to use any of Plath's verse.

"They think I should give them my mother's words
"To fill the mouth of their monster
"Their Sylvia Suicide Doll," the poem reads.

Another part of the poem says:
"The peanut eaters, entertained
"At my mother's death, will go home,
"Each carrying their memory of her
"Lifeless - a souvenir
"Maybe they'll buy the video."

Ted Hughes
Ted Hughes: Did not want his life to be dramatised
Frieda Hughes also accused producers of pestering her to take part despite her refusal, and said she will not go to see the film.

David Thompson, head of BBC Films, answered the criticism by saying: "We are naturally very concerned about the family's feelings but believe we have approached the film in a responsible and unsensational way.

"We are making a balanced film which will reflect both stories and celebrate the extraordinary genius that they shared."

Plath and Ted Hughes were among the most celebrated poets of the 20th Century, and Hughes' last book, a collection of verse letters to Plath, Birthday Letters, rekindled interest in the couple.

He was opposed to any dramatisation of his life, but will be played by Daniel Craig, last seen as gangster Connor Rooney in Road To Perdition.

After Ted Hughes died of cancer in 1998, Frieda Hughes became engaged in a battle with his second wife, Carol, over the proceeds from his writing.

See also:

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