Big Finish have released the trailer for “UNIT: Incursions” which is due for release this month. Looks like we don’t just have River Song…but more than one Kate Stewart…
Big Finish have released the trailer for “UNIT: Incursions” which is due for release this month. Looks like we don’t just have River Song…but more than one Kate Stewart…
The Daily Telegraph
Wednesday 10 October 2007
Actress Jemma Redgrave speaks for the first time about her father Corin’s heart attack and tells Maureen Paton about how acting together at last is a dream come true
BYLINE: Maureen Paton
LENGTH: 1249 words
In poignant circumstances that she could scarcely have foreseen, Jemma Redgrave has finally achieved her lifetime’s ambition to act alongside her father Corin. The Redgraves share three scenes in a new television drama based on eyewitness accounts of the British-led liberation of the Nazi death-camp Bergen-Belsen in April 1945. Jemma plays the female lead as the Red Cross nurse Jean McFarlane. Corin is cast in the key role of Brigadier Glyn Hughes, who led the medical team that fought to save the 40,000 inmates of the camp. But what makes this performance remarkable is that the scenes were shot just over a year after Corin, now 68, had a heart attack that nearly killed him.
Jemma, 42, found her eyes filling with unscripted tears on set for the first time in her career. “Luckily the cameras weren’t on me,” recalls the actress, who once said that her beloved father had always seemed “indestructible”.
In the 1970s and 1980s acting took a back seat while Corin Redgrave slogged his guts out as a fund-raiser for the Marxist party. He returned to acting in 1993 in In the Name of the Father, then, in 2000, took prostate cancer in his stride and went on to deliver an acclaimed King Lear for the RSC in 2004, followed by a one-man tour de force playing the theatre critic Kenneth Tynan. Then, despite taking on the role of Pericles at night, he returned to campaigning, championing the cause of gypsies, by day.
“Did I ever say to Dad: ‘Slow down’? There was no point, because he would always reply: ‘Yes, yes, I will, I will, I will’ – just like Mrs Doyle from Father Ted,” says Jemma as we talk in a private members’ club in Soho. “And of course he never would. Kika [Markham, Corin’s second wife] says exactly the same thing. Politics is part of him; he will always want to be active in humanitarian causes, the things that really occupy…” – she pauses to correct her tenses – “…had occupied his time.”
In June 2005, Corin’s heart stopped during a speech he was making to councillors in Basildon, in which he pledged to form a human shield to stop 600 travellers from being evicted from a local campsite. He suddenly faltered and sank to the floor, losing consciousness. After his heart was started again with defibrillators, he was rushed to Basildon Hospital. “I don’t know if it was true, as reported, that two policemen brought him back to life at the meeting. I was in such a bad state myself when I heard the news that I didn’t ask,” admits Jemma.
She had been filming in Ireland and the first she knew of her father’s collapse was when a friend rang to tell her that it had been shown on the news. “Somebody had a camera at the meeting, so my father’s collapse was televised,” says Jemma, her tone of voice deploring such an invasion of privacy. “He was on life support for three days and then in various other hospitals after that.”
The Redgraves – the acting dynasty includes Corin’s sisters Vanessa and Lynn, and Vanessa’s daughters Natasha and Joely Richardson – closed ranks around Corin, and none has spoken publicly about his condition until now.
“His recovery is astonishing,” Jemma says. “All the family were there in the intensive care unit, like Orpheus waiting for Eurydice to come back from the underworld. We were all praying for him to step back into the world, and he did. It was a wonderful moment when he opened his eyes. Did he recognise us immediately? He sure did,” she says, grinning at the memory.
Yet when I ask about any lasting effects of his cardiac arrest, she hesitates and then confides: “He’s still, you know, there’s a frailty there; and there have been consequences. The recuperation took a long time, probably about a year, and he’s still in the process of recovery. But he’s doing brilliantly, and his genius as an actor is undiminished.”
She declines to go into details of those “consequences”, a defensive glint in her eyes.
“In the four, five months after the heart attack, when Dad was in various hospitals, I really felt that I wanted to be there a lot,” says Jemma, who lives in London’s Tufnell Park with her husband, the human rights QC Tim Owen. “In fact, we all needed to be around him. He had never had any heart problem before, or not that we knew about, but he did have arrhythmia [an irregular heartbeat], which is a slight problem but not a heart disease in itself. Lots of people have arrhythmia – Tony Blair has it.”
As for speculation about possible memory loss following any brain damage from cardiac arrest, she says simply: “I think my father’s work in the Belsen drama speaks for itself. He was word-perfect, absolutely spot on, and he didn’t need any looking after during the filming; he’s from that stoical war-child generation.”
Seemingly unburdened by either dynastic or political baggage, Jemma has pursued a successful, rather sexy career in television drama while raising a family – she’s the mother of Gabriel, 13, and seven-year-old Alfie. Yet despite her approachable manner – there’s nothing remotely grand about this girlish-looking, 42-year-old yummy mummy who, when asked how long she has been a blonde, gives one of her shouts of laughter and says frankly, “not long enough” – she can be as clannish as the next Redgrave when it comes to protecting her own.
For the second time in her life, the traditional parent-child roles have been reversed. Jemma is now looking out for her father, just as she and her younger brother, Luke, nursed their late mother Deirdre, who died of breast cancer in 1997.
The Relief of Belsen shows Redgrave on screen for the first time since his cardiac arrest. The drama was filmed in Dorset and the scenes shared with Jemma were filmed over an intensive three days.
During the shoot he was accompanied by Arden, his 24-year-old son from his marriage to Kika, who is also an actress. “Kika was working at the time, so Arden came to the filming,” explains Jemma, telling me that her adored half-brother even landed work as an extra in the crowd scenes.
In fact, says Jemma, Corin was offered a role in The Relief of Belsen before she was. “And then the director asked me if I’d be part of it, too. Well, you wouldn’t say no, would you? It’s such a privilege to work with Dad.”
He’s a wonderful grandfather, too, she adds – something that might surprise those who associate his ascetic political image with solemnity. “Solemn is one word I would never use to describe my father,” she insists. “He isn’t solemn: he’s wicked, provocative, funny, brilliant, intellectual, committed, passionate – but not solemn.”
There’s clearly some campaigning life left in Corin yet, because he is making his stage comeback for one evening only. He is reprising his role in Tynan on October 22 at the off-Broadway Public Theater as a fund-raiser for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights Aids and the Actors’ Fund. A post-performance reception will be hosted by his sisters Vanessa and Lynn. Jemma, needless to say, will be flying over to join them.
As stoical as her father, she plays down the question of whether he will ever be able to return to the stage full-time. “I don’t know if he will go back to the theatre; we’ll see. But I hope so, I really hope so. Who knows what the future holds, but it would be lovely to work with Dad again. Any time, frankly. And to have worked with him for the first time on a drama like this is a wish fulfilled.
“It would,” she adds superstitiously, “be greedy to wish for more.”
* ‘The Relief of Belsen’ will be screened by Channel 4 on Monday October 15 at 9 pm
An interview with Jemma Redgrave appears in today’s “Telegraph” – both in the print and online versions.
You can read the interview online at:
“The Telegraph – Jemma Redgrave”
The print version is also in the Gallery.
Thanks to Rachael for the print version.
London born singer Ms Adkins is better known by what name?
Find out just how musical the cast of #MoodMusic are… 🎸🎹🎼 #OV200 https://t.co/8xUaxkLjLV pic.twitter.com/unCYyPBdt8
— The Old Vic (@oldvictheatre) April 20, 2018
Congratulations to @jemma_redgrave and @catherinerusse2 shortlisted for the Ally award at #DIVAAwards18! https://t.co/5El5lfcoCq pic.twitter.com/mK8pm8LbNZ
— DIVA Magazine (@DIVAmagazine) April 18, 2018
Dinner with a few old mates! @mrjoemcfadden @NiamhAWalsh @RobOstlere @elliefanyinka @jemma_redgrave Photographer @BigRichFilms #HolbyCity pic.twitter.com/mcOMYeG0ZE
— Catherine Russell (@catherinerusse2) April 7, 2018
December 9 1990
Review: A very special sisterhood – The Redgraves are a theatrical legend. The latest episode in their remarkable story is a new production of Three Sisters in which the title roles are played by the sisters Vanessa and Lynn Redgrave and their niece Jemma.
BYLINE: KATE KELLAWAY
SECTION: Pg. 43
LENGTH: 2889 words
SIR Michael Redgrave loved Chekhov’s Three Sisters. He said it had an ‘authentic thrill.’ How gratified he would be, if he were still alive, to see his two daughters Vanessa and Lynn on stage for the first time together and to see his grandaughter, Jemma, who in Robert Sturua’s production opening in London this week, shines out a new Redgrave star. Together, the three actresses two sisters and a niece are an overpowering combination. They are uncommonly tall, each has presence but it is Vanessa who, although she talks far less than Lynn, commands attention right from the start. She is one of the greatest actresses alive and one of the most difficult to interview.
She requires interviewers to sign a contract before meeting her, agreeing not to ask about ‘non-professional matters.’ She also asks to check copy before it goes to press.
She expresses distaste for talk of ‘personalities’. To ask her about family arguments is to contravene her contract. She lets it be known that she has more important things to do in life than discuss family rows. Any attempt to ask about her relationship with Lynn provokes rolling of eyes.
‘Vanessa is great on gravity,’ Michael Redgrave once wrote, adding the warning: ‘Gravity can be mistaken for severity.’ It’s still easy to make the mistake. At 53, Vanessa has made of herself a garrison; even her haircut is fierce although her beauty is not defeated by it. There’s more than a suggestion of Virginia Woolf about her. Her stare is spectral, her smile a relief. Michael Redgrave described it as ‘joyous’ and it is.
She mentions her father once to tell of the first advice he gave her as an actress, which she has tried to follow ever since. ‘I remember the first thing my father ever told me when I worked with him. I went home one night. He said: Did you enjoy today’s rehearsal? I said: No, I didn’t enjoy it at all. He said: Yes and you let everyone know it. Oh, I shouldn’t have then? and he said: No, you certainly should not, and I said: But the thing is, you see, I don’t think my character would feel like that I wouldn’t feel like that and he said: Excuse me, but it’s not a question of whether you’d feel like that; it’s a question of your character feeling like that. Get it straight.’
It’s a little story but it reveals the two most important things about Vanessa: her single-minded dedication to work to getting it straight; and her professional lack of self-importance. She has a studied humility, the rigour of her outlook on life curiously contrasted by her self-effacement.
She compares Chekhov’s writing to a musical score and says, ‘I am like a musician I only wish I was a musician I’m not.’ The character, Olga, is her instrument: ‘I don’t have to worry about whether this is my Olga; of course she is my Olga. I’m playing her.’ When she plays the Olga ‘conducted’ by Robert Sturua, ‘all I surrender is my ignorance.’ It is the ability to give herself up to a part that makes her such a compelling actress to watch: she, quite simply, becomes someone else on stage.
When she speaks she does not hurry, or emphasise anything unduly. There’s little excitement but the pace gives every word weight and deliberation. Even when talking about her character Vanessa puts the work before the personality. Olga is the eldest of the three sisters a tired, disappointed, unmarried schoolteacher whose idealism has been tarnished by experience. If Olga is the teacher, then Vanessa has become the pupil, reading about the Russian education system of 1901, learning about the reasons why Olga would not want to become a headmistress.
Vanessa does not find any of her parts depressing to play and she talks positively about Chekhov’s characters: ‘I don’t think any of them are depressing, either for the actors or for the audience.’ You could say she has more charity than critical edge. When asked, in a recent Kaleidoscope interview, if the sisters would be happy if they ever got to Moscow, as they long to do, she unhesitatingly and likeably answered, ‘Oh yes.’
The word ‘work’ appears and reappears like a repeated footprint in her conversation. ‘Chekhov is not one-sided in his work. He shows that human beings are not trapped and fixed for all time, however outrageous their circumstances ..they can change. That’s how he sees life. He’s not an optimist, nor a pessimist, he sees things as they are.’
Vanessa is bowled over as all three Redgraves are by their director Robert Sturua, of the Rustaveli Theatre from Georgia in the Soviet Union. He is quite unlike contemporary British directors. She likens his method to Tyrone Guthrie’s. When Guthrie directed All’s Well with Dame Edith Evans, he ‘choreographed physically every single moment of the whole and of the individual parts. He told every actor the rhythm they had to play a speech at. He did not make an exception for Dame Edith.’
It was always obvious that Vanessa would become an actress. On the night she was born Lawrence Olivier announced to the audience at the Old Vic: ‘Ladies and gentlemen, tonight a great actress has been born.’
NOBODY welcomed Lynn into the world with a helpful label and for a long time she did not know who or what to be. Corin and Vanessa remember Lynn, as a child, calling out: ‘Wait for me!’ The Lynn of those days was a drag. Six years younger than her sister she was ‘a plump little dumpling’ (her father’s description). She was also desperately shy. graceful, willowy and talkative (an active promoter of Weight Watchers) Lynn has no need to call out ‘Wait!’ If Vanessa is a garrison, Lynn is an open house: she is an articulate speaker and a feminist heroine in the United States. It has been said that her eloquence is the result of years in California appearing on chat shows. But this is to undervalue Lynn’s intelligence and imagination.
If Rossetti saw her, he would kidnap her. Her hair is a pile of copper curls. Lynn plays Masha the only sister to experience romantic love. Once, Vanessa and Lynn would have fought for the part. But there was no argument when they met for supper to discuss it. It was the first supper they had ever had on their own together which suggests, whether by choice or chance, that they can never have been close. Vanessa said: ‘I’ll be Olga, you can be Masha.’
Yet as a child Lynn idealised Vanessa and it seems, at least when she talks about their past, that she still does.
Vanessa was a ‘wonderful sister’ who made her childhood ‘heavenly’, who ‘looked like Tenniel’s Alice only prettier’, entertaining her with puppets, decorating the doll’s house or inventing stories for her. Lynn’s first memory is of a longing to go into Vanessa’s bedroom in their house in Chiswick.
‘I always wanted to go into her room ..there was a little platform in it which was exactly like a stage. It was full of treasures, books and illustrations she was a very good artist, she drew beautifully. I would try and copy her.’
Vanessa was trained to be a ballet dancer until she grew too tall while Lynn, as so many girls do, turned into a horse. At 11, she was given a pony by her godmother which she kept on Wimbledon Common. She rode all the time and dreamed of the Olympics. Lynn remembers she and Vanessa both had long plaits which were cut at the same time. They persuaded their mother, unwilling Rachel Kempson, to let them go to ‘a sordid hairdresser in Hammersmith’.
Vanessa, Lynn and Jemma all felt as children: life must get better as we grow up and they agree that it did.
Lynn says that she and her eldest daughter Kelly, now at drama school in England, had the same problem. Kelly’s teacher summed it up, saying to Lynn: ‘Your daughter is no good at being a child. She is just not cut out for it.’
Lynn lives in California with her husband, the director John Clark with whom she has three children. Her CV is a dizzying assortment of jobs classical and commercial. She has two children in their twenties Benjie and Kelly, and Annabel, who is eight. Lynn has invented a marvellous entertainment for Annabel while they are apart. They send each other postcards which tell a story; each card adds a sequel and the contents are suggested by the pictures on the cards. Lynn has dreamt up a character called Lucia who is searching for ‘three lost sisters’. Let’s hope they turn up before the first night.
Lynn plays Masha as a potentially suicidal rebel, but with a strong ‘life force’. ‘Life force’ is a phrase which Lynn uses more than once and a quality she has in abundance. She says that acting with family is quite unlike acting with anyone else. ‘There are some extremely famous actors I’ve acted with some of them but when you look into their eyes, there ain’t nobody home. They fool everybo dy.’ Lynn says that the family feeling has to do with ‘the look in the eye, the touch of skin on skin’, the sense of ‘looking into the soul’ of the other. It has to do also with shared memories and recognition.
She says that in their production they believe that though the three sisters are depressed, they are not (as is the case in most productions) lethargic or apathetic. ‘We are desperately trying to cheer ourselves up. No one is sitting around saying, God, I’m depressed. When we’re sad, we’re furious that we’re sad.’
Three Sisters is like a calendar in which the sense of time passing is so concentrated that it often seems as though mortality were being measured in a minute. But the three sisters find it hard to live in the present. Lynn says it’s hard but necessary.
‘I’ve changed my feelings over the years. I suspect it is to do with ageing. One summer, my parents rented a place in Portofino. It was the most extraordinary, exquisitely beautiful place. My father was in a rather expansive frame of mind which was not his mode. Expansion was not something he played very well.
‘Every day we did fabulous things in Portofino. We would take a boat, go and fish, we’d eat marvellous Italian food. I had been offered my first job as a student ASM, working on John Dexter’s production of The Kitchen, earning pounds 1 a day and I was looking forward to it so much that every single second I was wishing away and I hated myself for it; I willed my life away. I remember crying to my mother about it. I was only 18. I knew that I was doing it and I knew that it was wrong.
‘Now, at the grand old age of 47, having had three children, it has even changed my attitude towards them. Because I had Annabel in my late thirties, I was already able to view mortality a bit and because birth always reminds us of death I suddenly found myself saying when my third child arrived: I want to hang on to every second, I want fully to experience every second.’
She is no longer capable of sleeping in in the morning as she once did: ‘I dread missing something, I have a real sense of time running out.’
Does she feel, as Vershinin says, that if we could have our lives over again we would live them differently? Lynn would prefer to think that the mistakes were worth experiencing: ‘In our profession, we are open to great disasters as well as successes and mediocre in-betweens. I have had these terrible days, I’ve had these disasters. I’ve been told my acting is appalling and it’s all frightful but I will rise again. After the disasters I can say, like Stephen Sondheim, I’m still here.’
Lynn believes that Jemma, the third sister, rounds off their circle perfectly. If Irina had been played by Vanessa’s daughters or her own there would have been an imbalance.
Besides, ‘Jemma is fabulous. I’ve adored her since childhood. I don’t think of her as my niece. I said to her the other day,’ (this with a trace of melancholy) ‘Do you think of me as your aunt? I feel she’s like the sister I never had, my little sister. Although there is nothing about Jemma that’s little. I don’t mean size-wise. I mean in character.’
TWO DAYS before opening as Irina in the West End, Jemma Redgrave looks calm. She stands in the kitchen of her Kilburn flat, which she shares with her boyfriend, talking as she slices up a marzipan cake, makes tea and sets the table under a big window looking out on to a winter view. Her boyfriend is not in evidence: ‘He’s mending the bed,’ she says disarmingly. She’s dressed in black. Chekhov would approve, though he might be surprised by her jaunty shorts. Jemma is 25 but looks younger. Her manner is robust, her laugh delightfully hearty. She wears no make-up; her open face matches her forthright character. Like Lynn, she is a free and bold talker. She volunteers for example that her private life is ‘increasingly happy’.
Last August, at one o’clock in the morning, Vanessa phoned Jemma from France. Jemma was sure something terrible must have happened. ‘How are you?’ Vanessa said. For God’s sake, tell me the worst, Jemma thought. ‘Would you like to play Irina?’ Vanessa eventually asked.
Jemma stayed awake until four in the morning: ‘I drew a fear chart listing all the things I was frightened of and then arguing against them one by one. Could I act beside Lynn and Vanessa? Was I good enough? Would being part of the family be a problem?’
Jemma’s grandmother Rachel Kempson is still acting at 80; so is her father Corin. When asked about the Redgrave sense of humour, Jemma says that she and her father have a sort of private sign language.
When Jemma was five, Rachel took her to see Peter Brook’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Jemma adored the white set, the swing, the feather that was Titania’s transport. As a result, in spite of indifferent teaching at school, ‘I was never scared of Shakespeare.’
At 10 or 11, she knew that she wanted to be an actress. Most 10-year-olds don’t suffer from self-doubt but she was in a flap: ‘I remember eating nut brittles from the sweet shop near our mansion flat in Earl’s Court and crying out, I want to be an actress but maybe I won’t be any good.’
In spite of her outer composure, her unconscious is still crying out. She wakes in the middle of the night shouting and says that she has been having recurrent nightmares featuring severed limbs ‘the style is somewhere between Macbeth and David Lynch.’ She dreams that she has forgotten her lines.
But the fear of acting with her two aunts has proved baseless. She knows Vanessa well and is devoted to her she lived for a year in her house between school and drama school. Lynn she knows less well, although like Lynn feels she has acquired a sister (Jemma has three brothers).
Jemma realised, in a flash, that there is a practical way in which family counts, a closeness that makes acting with your family quite unlike acting with anyone else. Once, during rehearsal Vanessa put an arm round her, and she found herself crying. What she felt was, literally, familiarity.
Although part of the Redgrave clan, she remembers Michael Redgrave, her grandfather, as ‘a mystery’. She used to go and stay with him and Rachel in the country. But while she was growing up, he was already ill with Parkinson’s Disease. ‘Although I think he liked his grandchildren, he preferred them to be in another room. But he liked to hear our voices and I remember his voice. I loved it it was very deep, always on the break.’
Jemma’s voice is deep and unpredictable. She falters sometimes as she speaks, her long fair hair, which she has to curl every night for Irina, hangs down one shoulder.
In a very Chekhovian fashion, she addresses no one directly as she says: ‘More and more I identify with Irina. I feel her getting under my skin. I remember, when I was 16, feeling as she does that I suddenly understood the world. Of course that is to do with youthfulness. It’s a cliche that the older we get, the less certain everything seems. I absolutely identify with her longings especially the longing to work.’
Jemma was out of work for six months and does not know how she endured it. She bangs her fist on the table: ‘You’re not an actress when you’re not acting. You can paint on your own, you can write on your own but you can’t act. You can be a waitress. I’ve done all that clothes shops, hamburger joints. But acting is the way I express myself. And it’s much easier to organise and control your life when you are working. There is nothing worse than having too much time.’
In Three Sisters, Jemma says it is the failure to act, the crime of passivity that their production aims to bring out. ‘Why did no one prevent the duel? Everyone must have known the baron would be hurt.’ Sturua, she explains, wants audiences to remember that since Three Sisters was written we have seen the Second World War, Vietnam, Pol Pot he wants us to be ashamed.
Jemma pulls down a red notebook from the top of a cupboard in order to read out some of the things Sturua said on the first day of rehearsal. She pores over her tiny blue Biro script: ‘He said that the play is a cemetery of talent I can’t forget that. He said: Everything begins with our attitude ..Pain reveals complexity ..Why is this wonderful world perishing? What is happening to us? ..The tragedy is that I will still do what I should not be doing.’
Who is he talking about there? ‘Oh,’ says Jemma, surprised, ‘everyone.’
‘Three Sisters’ is at the Queen’s Theatre, London, from 12 December until 2 March 1991.
.@jemma_redgrave is nominated for the Ally of the year award at the #DIVAAwards18! Make sure you nominate: https://t.co/D4vn3xcXMF pic.twitter.com/EvnG8VkFg1
— DIVA Magazine (@DIVAmagazine) March 26, 2018
Daily Mail (London)
October 11, 1993, Monday
SEX AND FAME FOR THE QUIET ONE
BYLINE: Lester Middlehurst
IF THERE could ever be such a sub-species amid theatre’s most controversial family group, then Jemma Redgrave would be marked down as the Quiet One.
She has somehow managed to avoid all the lurid headlines which attach themselves to the rest of the dynasty like clingfilm.
While her father Corin and her aunt Vanessa suppressed their talent in favour of Marxist rantings, the Quiet One kept her political opinions to herself and established herself as one of Britain’s most gifted young actresses.
While cousin Natasha Richardson was making news by cavorting with her leading man Liam Neeson, during her marriage to impresario Robert Fox, the Quiet One married a barrister, an eminently non-showbusiness figure, and has become happily pregnant.
And while her other cousin, Joely, was being denounced far and wide for the graphic and lingering nature of her sex scenes in the televised version of Lady Chatterley’s Lover, the Quiet One was winning acclaim for her role as Anthony Hopkins’s daughter in the rather more bucolic Howards End.
But once a Redgrave, always a Redgrave. Next month, it would seem, the soubriquet of Quiet One will be lifted from Jemma’s shoulders for ever. She is about to star in what is perhaps the sexiest series ever to appear on British television.
In her first scene during BBC2’s adaptation of The Buddha Of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi’s subversive novel of a young Anglo-Indian man’s voyage through sex, drugs and politics in the Seventies, Jemma is seen doing the ironing naked.
From then on, there are very few areas of the Redgrave form which are not featured. The four-part series, is certainly one of the most sexually explicit I have ever seen.
EVEN Kureishi was worried when the BBC bid for the rights to the book, which won the Whitbread Prize for a first novel. He said at the time: ‘I don’t think they can re-create all the book’s sex on television because it is so explicit.’ Well, the BBC has remained so faithful to the original that the American networks have refused to buy the series.
Given that her scenes make cousin Joely’s romps with Sean Bean in Lady Chatterley appear rather prim, how does 28-year-old Jemma feel about the prospect of becoming the most talked-about Redgrave of them all?
‘Do you think it’s explicit?’ she asks, wide-eyed. ‘I suppose it will provoke a reaction. I hadn’t really thought about it. I just think that there have been explicit things on telly for a very long time, but each time it happens it seems to provoke a new reaction.
‘I suppose it sounds cliched, but when I had to do those scenes I so loved the part that I thought they went hand-in-hand with the character. You always have thoughts about exposing yourself to that extent and the reactions it may provoke, but when it came down to it I didn’t have any real qualms.’
Jemma stars as Eleanor, a neurotic young actress who takes hero Karim (Narveen Andrews) on a sexual voyage from adolescence to adulthood.
She says she discussed the scenes with her husband before taking on the role and he gave his blessing. ‘If he had objected we would have had to talk it through, but he read the scripts, thought they were terrific and said I had to do it.
‘He hasn’t seen it yet and I doubt very much that we’ll watch it together. He can watch it if he wants to when it’s on television, but I shall probably go out and get quietly drunk. I’ll video it and watch it later with the curtains closed.’
Jemma has already seen the series at a private screening with other cast and crew members. She says she is proud of it. ‘I thought that if I was able to sit and watch it with other people then I would be happy for it to go out on television.
‘The hardest part was walking out of the darkened room when the screening was over, but I didn’t feel embarrassed. I thought the director, Roger Michell, had done it very well.
‘I met Roger twice before I accepted the part and I trusted him. You do feel terribly vulnerable when you take on something like this, but Roger made us feel quite safe.
THERE was no salaciousness of any sort. Narveen and I had two weeks of rehearsals before we started the first block of filming, and another two weeks before the second block, so we were able to talk about the scenes and establish a friendship.
‘It wasn’t like turning up on the set for the first day and not knowing who you were going to be working with.
‘If I’d thought at the time about the millions of people who might be watching I would have stayed under the covers and never come out. I would have been frozen to the spot, so I didn’t allow that thought to even enter my mind.
‘I know actresses who say they could never do nude scenes, but I don’t have a hang-up about it. I don’t think it’s because I’m an exhibitionist, it’s just that I don’t lose sleep over what people might think about my body. I’m not a supermodel, but I’m not unhappy with my body either.
‘Doing sex scenes is not the easiest thing in the world, but it’s part of the job. It’s acting. And whatever confidence it takes to get up and do any performance, or create any role, is the same confidence it takes to do those scenes. If you view them as another piece of acting it’s not so hard.
‘I don’t mind people switching on to be titillated, as long as they switch on. They can decide afterwards whether they thought it was a good piece of telly or not.
BUT IT worries me if they think it’s filth, because I don’t think there is anything filthy about it. I don’t worry about people watching for the wrong reasons. I don’t know that there is such a thing as an audience you don’t want.
‘What you want is for the maximum amount of people to switch on and then have the debate after they’ve watched it. There will be people who will say this sort of thing shouldn’t be on television, and that’s their prerogative.
‘But I expect it will carry all sorts of warnings beforehand. There are three other channels to watch.
‘I know people are going to dwell on the series’ sexual content but there is a lot more to it than just the sex. It is representative of the times we are living in. It is being screened when we are still living in a very worrying time of increasing racist and fascist attacks.
‘That’s why I think a series like this has its place on television alongside all the period dramas and other programmes.’ Perhaps it is a sign of the theatrical bohemianism she has inherited from her fellow Redgraves that enables Jemma to view her most controversial role with almost child-like confidence.
It will be interesting to see how the Quiet One reacts to the furore which is about to engulf her.
September 28, 2004
DAY & NIGHT; JEMMA IS STAGE STUCK
BYLINE: KATHRYN SPENCER, JULIE CARPENTER & KATE BOHDANOWICZ
ANY pairing of the Redgrave acting dynasty is guaranteed to pull in the punters, so its good news that Jemma Redgrave has a burning ambition to appear on stage with her father, eminent thesp Corin.
Corin, only brother of Vanessa and Lynn, can’t fit it into his packed schedule. “I’d love to do pretty well everything with him but he’s so booked up, ” says flamehaired Jemma, 38, who starred with Vanessa and Lynn in 1990 in Chekhov’s The Three Sisters and played the 19th-century physician Dr Bramwell. “He’s playing King Lear at the moment but I couldn’t go on stage and see his character get his eyes gouged out.”
There could, she says, be a fourth generation of actors on the way in the shape of her sons Gabriel, 10, and Alfie, four, by husband, QC Tim Owen. “Gabriel wants to be a comedy actor and Alfie is the most dramatic person I know.”