© Edinburgh University Press. Referencing Diana Athill's memoir, Alive, Alive Oh! And Other Things That Matter (2015), this article organises an analysis of the BBC television dramas A Cream Cracker under the Settee (1988) and She's Been Away (1989) through the frame of Robert Butler's concept of the life review (1975) which, he argues, is a process through which unresolved conflicts and past experiences return to reflective consciousness, thus enabling resolution and recalibration of relationships and past events in the elderly. Viewed in the light of Butler's ideas, Athill and the 75-year-old female protagonist of each narrative suggest rarely depicted levels of agency and ongoing identity formation in the elderly. Although very different in tone, aesthetic appeal, narrative structure and class location, each drama similarly explores the inner lives of elderly women and reveals personal truths hitherto unacknowledged by them which also offer a reflection on wider society. In each case, the elderly protagonist can be seen as a subject in process with an identity formation that does not end in late life, while the life review also works to lift the veil between the dominant culture that largely wants to deny processes of ageing, and therefore death, and the lived experience of those undergoing the process.
Wilson, S. (2017). The life review and the (alternative) politics of ageing. Journal of British Cinema and Television, 14(2), 196-212. https://doi.org/10.3366/jbctv.2017.0363