N is for The Narrator (x2)


[reading from dictionary] Emotion: Agitation or disturbance of mind; vehement or excited mental state.” It is also a powerful and irrational master. And from what Magenta and Columbia eagerly viewed on their television monitor, there seemed little doubt that Janet was indeed… its slave.

OK as a heads up it isn’t an error we are both talking about Narrators today, but Michelle’s will be far less suspendery than mine. Mine will also be a tiny bit sweary

The Narrator from The Rocky Horror Picture Show is a hard character to write about if you’ve seen the live version. I am now on my fourth Rocky Horror Show and have never not loved my Narrators. All of the roles in the live shows are interactive as the cult of Rocky Horror draws in the audience with cries of ‘Slut’ and ‘Arsehole’ about Brad and Janet, thrown rice and even water pistol rain

The role of the Narrator in Rocky Horror is to allow and facilitate audience participation, roll with the punches and give as good as he gets. All while looking fabulous and keeping completely flexible. In essence the Narrator is never the same character twice, he is simply an actor, choosing a persona and running with it, and I have never seen one who isn’t fabulous.


H.G. Wells’ ‘The War of the Worlds’ is told from the point-of-view of an unnamed narrator. The Narrator is a journalist and an educated man, particularly in the field of science. Wells’ Narrator deals mainly in the facts of the invasion and recounts it all in past tense. Yes, we know the Narrator clearly survives the attack but his reigned in emotional account sets well for disaster-narration.

In the book, the Narrator not only recounts his own experiences with the martian invaders but also that of his brother – who seems much more heroic than the Narrator, whether this is apt or just that the Narrator is telling it in his brother’s words, it’s unclear but through it we learn how London fared. He also tells some of the account from an almost third person point of view, where he talks about the events on a broader scale, events and experiences that he wouldn’t have known or had himself. But then, the Narrator IS a journalist, he probably just collated it from people he met during or after.

Ignoring the two US-set films (when are we getting a proper UK-set film?), in Jeff Wayne’s Musical version of ‘The War of the Worlds’ he takes the Narrator role and merges him with the brother, labelling him ‘The Journalist’ and creating a character that we can engage fully with. Particularly on hearing the captivating voice of Richard Burton grabbing you with those so familiar opening lines…

No one would have believed, in the last years of the Nineteenth century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space.
No one could have dreamed we were being scrutinized, as someone with a microscope studies creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water.
Few man even considered the possibility of life on other planets, and yet, across the gulf of space minds immeasurably superior to ours regarded this Earth with envious eyes and, slowly and surely, they drew their plans against us.


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