Bedford venue takes a fresh look at the life of the last woman to be hanged in Britain

The Thrill of Love tells the story of Ruth Ellis
The Thrill of Love tells the story of Ruth Ellis

The last woman to be hanged in Britain is the subject of a drama taking to the stage in Bedford next week.

Amanda Whittington’s play The Thrill of Love dramatises the true story of Ruth Ellis – and takes a fresh look at the woman behind the headlines.

A divorcee with a young child to care for, Ruth works in the kind of nightclubs where there’s more than just a drink on offer. The girls work hard, play hard and dream of a movie-star life.

Then she meets the wealthy, womanising David, a racing driver with whom she becomes obsessed. Fame comes - but not in the way she imagines.

The hanging was the cause of great public interest. On the morning of Wednesday July 18 1955, a crowd of more than a thousand people gathered outside Holloway prison. Inside the prison preparations were being made for Ruth Ellis to be hanged. Many called for her reprieve, others prayed for her soul. As the clock struck 9am, the appointed time for the execution, they fell silent.

The play examines why their relationship ended in murder, why she pleaded not guilty but offered no defence, why she showed no remorse and who she was trying to protect.

Suzy Mead, of Bedford Drama Company, which is presenting the play, said: “The Thrill of Love is a brilliantly written, finely constructed play, set to a sound track of superb songs originally recorded by Billie Holiday.

“The ending you know – but as in real life there’s comedy as well as tragedy here.”

The Thrill of Love is being performed at The Place in Bradgate Road from Tuesday October 16 to Saturday October 20 from 7.30pm.

Tickets cost £12 or £10 for concessions. Visit theplacebedford.org.uk to book or for more information.