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To mark National Ceramics Day, we’ll be watching THE COLOUR ROOM directed Claire McCarthy, wri


Directed Claire McCarthy

Written by Claire Peate


In the grey industrial midlands of the 1920s, a determined, imaginative working-class factory worker, Clarice Cliff, defies expectation and circumstance to become a trailblazer of Art deco, breaking the glass ceiling and revolutionising the workplace in the 20th century.

Living in the smoky terraces of working class Stoke-on-Trent with her widowed mother Ann (Kerry Fox – Rare Beasts) and youngest sister Dot (Darci Shaw – The Irregulars). Clarice (Phoebe Dynevor, Bridgerton), driven by her imagination and ambition, makes the bold move to take a lower paying job at a prestigious pottery factory owned by eccentric Colley Shorter (Matthew Goode – The Imitation Game) and his more cautious brother Guy (Luke Norris – Poldark). Here she was apprenticed to renowned designer, Fred Ridgway (David Morrissey – Hilary and Jackie), whose designs were as traditional and conservative as her designs were not.

While the expectation of most women working in the industry at that time was an apprentice wage throughout their working life, Clarice had no qualms about pushing the boundaries, fighting her way through the deep prejudice of the times to design her unprecedented ‘Bizarre’ range and become one of the greatest Art Deco designers and a household name.


Co-produced by Sky, Caspian Films and Creative England (now Creative UK), the Sky original film was written, directed and produced by an all-female team. “The story was inspired by a single image,” Peate described: “A young factory worker leaving her grim, industrial reality behind her and stepping into the rainbow of the Colour Room – a world of joy and possibility.” Peate won the BAFTA Rocliffe award for her script of The Colour Room in 2016.

The film was shot on location in and around Stoke on Trent and Birmingham with development supported by Ffilm Cymru Wales and production support from Creative England. Produced by Caspian Films, a production company founded in 2018 by  producers, Thembisa Cochrane and Georgie Paget (participants on our Filmonomics V programme – supported by ScreenSkills – with BFI’s Film Forever National Lottery funds), to make engaging, entertaining films with unique voices and fresh perspectives for international audiences.

As well as The Colour Room (2021), the company has also completed Us Among the Stones (2019), and is in development on a variety of other films with acclaimed international writers and directors.


January 1899 – 23 October 1972

“Ceramics made for women, by women”. Clarice Cliff

“Ceramics made for women, by women”. Clarice Cliff

“Ceramics made for women, by women”. Clarice Cliff

Clarice Cliff is considered one of the most important, influential ceramic artists of the 20th century, producing much-celebrated, beautifully-made work that is now highly collectable.

Born in Stoke-on- Trent in 1899, she started working in the ceramics industry at the young age of 13. In 1916 she started at the AJ Wilkinson factory where she honed her skills and began to design her own patterns.

Not much is known about her personal life, but we know from her work that she was unlike anyone else around her. She lived her whole life in the smoky Potteries of Stoke-on-Trent, but her famous bold colours and designs drew on an incredible international range influences to develop which new colours, styles and vividly innovative shapes that became an iconic part of the Art Deco movement.

Her work was produced up until 1964 and is still celebrated across the world today with famous collectors like Vogue editor Anna Wintour and actress Whoopi Goldberg. In Britain, her pieces often appear on the Antiques Roadshow and fetch high prices at auction.

Follow #TheColourRoom on social media to find out more.



Click HERE for where to watch


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