August 20, 2020
Welcome everyone and welcome BACK!
As you can see, I was blessed with an interview with Shelley Blond the original voice of Lara Croft this week, for which I’m eternally grateful. This week’s guest certainly bought out my inner fanboy! Shelley Blond is an actor and voice actor whose work includes west end stage productions and many a household name tv show, including Cold Feet, Peep Show, and feature films such as Snow White: the Sequel. She’s been a voice you’ve likely heard on Heart FM, ITV, Disney and Nat Geo, among many others, but perhaps the role most archaeologists and historians know her best for, is that of the original voice of Lara Croft...Tomb Raider.
The original tomb raider game was a hit on a scale hard to relate to our younger listeners out there. The first game of its kind, nobody, including the creators knew how people would react to a 3D third person exploration action adventure game. We take this genre for granted now, a quarter century later, but this was something never seen before, and it was a gamble.
Tomb Raider sits at the threshold of where video games stopped being juvenile entertainment and began being conceived of as ‘cinematic’. The interaction, the musical score, and the performances made this game something modern audiences now take for granted – they made it an immersive experience.
The 1st Tomb Raider game sold a million copies in its first quarter and went on to sell seven million worldwide, receiving critical acclaim and setting the standard for modern gaming as we know it. It went on to become one of the most influential games of all time and served as a template for the many action adventure exploration games to follow, driving 3D graphics technology as it did so. The series holds six official Guinness world records and Lara herself has become a world-wide icon.
The character of Lara Croft has sometimes found herself at the centre of controversy – one of the first female protagonists in gaming, she was largely embraced by an -at that time – majority male gaming audience. However, Lara also sat at a sometimes uncomfortable point between sex icon and strong independent feminist protagonist, and it’s a conversation, since the reboot of the franchise, that fans and pundits are still having.
At the genesis of this maelstrom of mainstream media attention was a young actress who had no notion of what she was getting herself into, or that she’d become forever linked to a cultural icon who rivals the likes of Indiana Jones and James Bond. I had the opportunity to speak with Shelley about her experiences as and with Lara Croft, so please welcome to the show, actor Shelley Blond.
As always, thank you for listening, and if you enjoyed that be sure to check out Shelley’s work on the mini documentary the History and Geography in Tomb Raider, you can find that over on YouTube here:
The Tomb Raider Suite, mentioned in this episode by Shelley, was composed by Nathan McCree, and performed by the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra (conducted by Robert Ziegler). You can find more information, and limited edition cd's here (no affiliation):
Last, but certainly not least, Shelley Blond can be found on twitter
@BlondShelley and is represented by @yaketyyakvoices
And be sure to check in next month for more explorations of historical, archaeological and environmental culture. I’ve been Dr Paul Harrison. Thanks for listening.