Bognor Regis woman who worked on ‘Belfast’ watches it with her mother in hometown cinema

A silver screen from Bognor Regis will come ‘full circle’ this week, returning to her childhood cinema with her 90-year-old-mother, Brenda, to watch a new blockbuster – except this time, she’ll have her name in the credits.

Jan Haydn Rowles, 57, worked as an accent and dialect coach on ‘Belfast’, the latest drama from actor and director Kenneth Branagh, and will be taking her mother to see the film at the Picturedrome tomorrow (Friday).

Mrs Haydn Rowles, who was born in Bognor and now lives in London, has fond memories of watching Saturday morning pictures at the cinema. She told how coming back to her hometown cinema to watch a film with her mother, alongside two of her three brothers and their wives, has given her a ‘surreal’ sense of coming full circle.

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“It’s strange to think that I sat in the Picturedrome as a child and, 50 years later, I’ll be there again, watching a film that I worked on,” she said.

Jan Haydn Rowles with mum Brenda Watson

“If you had said to that seven-year-old kid, ‘you’re going to work in TV and film. You’re going to sit here and watch your name come up on screen’ she wouldn’t have believed you.”

‘Belfast’ was a huge project for Mrs Haydn Rowles, who has also worked on major television programmes like Game of Thrones, because it saw her working alongside childhood idol Dame Judi Dench.

“I trained as a voice teacher at the same school Judi Dench trained as an actor,” she explained.

“She’s sort of the reason I became an actor and stayed in the industry.

“It was crazy sitting in her garden in the summer between lockdowns, going over the script and practicing a Belfast accent.

“It was a real ‘pinch-me’ moment. I don’t often get starstruck, but when she brought out this tray of champagne, I did think to myself ‘what the heck? I’m in Judi Dench’s garden drinking champagne!’”