Encyclopedia Sabrina (Norma Ann Sykes)

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Sabrina University

Academic Interest in Sabrina

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Sabrina University

Above: Dr Sabrina relaxes between lectures.

We all know Norma Sykes, D.Litt (Hon, Leeds University 1959) as an academic girl. Her famous appearance as the school swot in Blue Murder at St Trinians clearly established her credentials in Advanced Mathematics.

But she herself has been the focus of considerable academic interest even beyond this simple site. As the eye of the media storm in the 1950s, she has fascinated academics worldwide, and sparked considerable investigation into and commentary about her significant role in the genesis of the 20th century Western world's history, culture and society.

Here are some of these academic findings...

Author: Holmes, Su

Source: Media History , Volume 17, Number 1, February 2011 , pp. 33-48(16)

Abstract: Drawing on archival sources from the BBC Written Archive Centre, including press coverage, memos and scripts, this article seeks to contribute to historical work on celebrity by exploring the discourses surrounding television fame through the prism of ' Sabrina '—a young woman made famous by BBC television in the mid-1950s as the 'bosomy blonde who didn't talk'. It is particularly productive to excavate this case study of Sabrina right now, when popular media discourse is saturated with debate about the apparently declining currency of modern fame—a debate which often positions female celebrities centre stage. Indeed, in 1955 one BBC official asked a question which might seem decidedly familiar to celebrity audiences today: '[Sabrina] is a wonder of our time which makes us absolutely terrified of the power of television. Whoever heard of anyone being a screaming success for doing nothing?' In returning to the case study of Sabrina, this article examines a so far neglected persona in the institutional, cultural and ideological contexts which shaped early (British) television fame.

Read Dr Holmes' whole article on Sabrina and fame in the 50s .

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