‘Call the Celebrity’: Voicing the Experience of Women and Ageing through the Distinctive Vocal Presence of Vanessa Redgrave
This chapter suggests that the BBC television drama, Call the Midwife (2012–), is a unique televisual timespace (May and Thrift, 2001) that provides opportunities for audiences to engage with a more complex understanding of ageing femininities than are usually available in popular television. Focusing on a specific period of production (Seasons 1–3), the chapter argues that central to the series’ unique and fluid construction of age is Vanessa Redgrave’s role as series narrator. In particular, the singularity of Redgrave’s disembodied voice (incorporating intertextual elements of her controversial celebrity persona as well as the singularity of the sonic cadences of her theatrically trained and now postmenopausal voice) contributes to the series’ distinctive, polysemically multi-layered representation of women and ageing. As the voice-over narrator in Call the Midwife, Redgrave’s voice facilitates a rare example of female subjectivity that is built on a continuum of ages rather than firm or oppositional divisions between young and old.
KeywordsPopular Television Television Study Celebrity Persona Chronological Time National Treasure
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