Vanessa Redgrave was born in London in 1937 into a family of actors. Both of her grandparents and her parents were actors – Sir Michael Redgrave and Rachel Kempson – as well as her siblings Corin and Lynn Redgrave.

After studying at the Central School of Speech and Drama and The Actors Studio in New York, she worked in theatre, mostly with the Royal Shakespeare Company, including some plays with her father. Some of Vanessa’s best known roles include Anne Boleyn in A Man for All Seasons; Guenevere opposite Richard Harris in Camelot; Isadora, Mary Queen of Scots, Julia (winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actress), The Bostonians, Howards End, Prick Up Your Ears, Mission Impossible, Mrs Dalloway, Atonement and The Butler.

Over her career she has been an outspoken critic on a number of social issues including the Palestinian cause, the “war on terrorism” by the US and Britain, the war in Iraq, Guantanamo Bay prison and the exclusionary policy of the British government against refugees.

Redgrave was proclaimed by Arthur Miller and Tennessee Williams as “the greatest living actress of our times”, and has won the Oscar, Emmy, Tony, BAFTA, Olivier, Cannes, Golden Globe, Screen Actors Guild awards and a Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice International Film Festival. Overall, in her career to date, she has won 42 awards from 97 nominations.

Declining a damehood in 1999, she continues to work including as the narrator in Call the Midwife.

“I’ve still got to do something to help, however tiny it is. I always think of the old Hebrew saying, which is translated roughly into, ‘He who saves one life saves the world,’ because it’s pretty ghastly to think of all the people we’re not saving.”