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30 March 2022, 17:25 | Updated: 20 June 2022, 11:22
Thought the voice guiding us through Netflix’s luxuriously contorted period drama sounded familiar? The ‘Sound of Music’ devotees among you would be right…
Throughout Seasons 1 and 2 of Bridgerton, Netflix’s beguiling period drama for the modern age, the sharp-tongued voice of an – almost – all-seeing narrator guides us through the goings-on of the Bridgerton family and their neighbours.
Lady Whistledown, essentially a Regency-era Gossip Girl who publishes anonymous social reports, chronicles the story, an adaptation of Julia Quinn’s best-selling romance novels, with her wicked narration of local scandals.
Her identity, which is kept secret until the series’ finale, is assumed to be one of the show’s on-screen characters (but there’ll be no spoilers here).
And behind the scenes, as those who grew up watching The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins may have cannily noticed, Whistledown’s well-articulated tones are none other than those of legendary soprano and actor, Julie Andrews.
Here’s all you need to know about Andrews’ role as Lady Whistledown.
Bridgerton’s narrator, Lady Whistledown, is voiced by the fabulous Julie Andrews.
At 85 years of age, Andrews is as silver-tongued as ever, her speaking voice a wickedly perfect fit for the ever-snooping Lady Whistledown, whose identity is revealed in the first season’s finale.
Speaking about her role in Season 1, Andrews told Parade that Whistedown is “a tartar, and a bit of a naughty woman”.
“I occasionally guide it, twist it, point it in some direction or another,” the Oscar winner added. “I can make or break anybody, it seems, if I wish.”
Andrews had her feature film debut in Mary Poppins in 1964, for which she won an Academy Award for best actress. A year later, she starred in The Sound of Music and captured the world’s interest forever.
“She was at the top of our list for Lady Whistledown,” showrunner Chris Van Dusen told OprahMag.com. “We offered her the part, sent her the scripts, not thinking anything would really come of it. But surprisingly she read the scripts and fell in love with them.”
Andrews, whose four-octave range and crystal-clear soprano voice were once the toast of Broadway and Hollywood, tragically lost her singing voice after an operation in the late 1990s.
After feeling that her throat was hoarse during a show, Andrews shortly after decided to have surgery for what she had been told by doctors were ‘nodules’. But the operation left her with permanent damage that took away her prized possession: her singing voice.
“I went into a depression. It felt like I’d lost my identity,” Andrews told AARP The Magazine in 2019.
Andrews filed a malpractice suit against the hospital, which was settled in September 2000. And 10 years later, the actor discovered the pain was not being caused by nodules, but a kind of muscular striation on her vocal cords.
Since then, Dame Julie has had several operations to try to reverse the damage, but has been told she will never return to full voice.
Fortunately, doctors did succeed in correcting her speaking voice, which is as resonant as ever. She also, rather wonderfully, told AARP that she is a very accomplished whistler (“a lot of singers are,” she said).