Radio

ALL SHOOK UP

  • Fact to Fiction on BBC Radio 4. 

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The FIFA Women’s World Cup begins and Sepp Blatter resigns and accusations of corruption in the world governing body rumble on.

The England players and their coach are in Canada, psyching up for the opening festivities and the media circus: waving and smiling for the photo-shoot and fielding questions about the shortness of their shorts. How do they feel about being guinea-pigs for artificial playing surfaces and who should take over from Blatter?

This surreal comedy was written over a couple of days in response to the week’s news, and produced by Mary Ward-Lowery. It stars Endy McKay, Helen Longworth, Alex Tregear, David Acton and Andrew Dunn.

 

 

ROWENA THE WONDERFUL

  • Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4
  • Finalist in  ‘Best  Drama’  at the  2014 BBC Radio and Music Awards

 

Real-life magician’s assistant, Rowena is eleven years old. She was born with a rare chromosome disorder which means she can’t speak. But she can understand the language of looks and the power of stories, of music and the love of her family

This drama documentary ,  directed by Mary Ward-Lowery, and starring Dominique Moore as Rowena,  was broadcast on Friday 26 July 2013.

Rowena The Wonderful will be broadcast at a Lights Down, Listen event at the Arnolfini in Bristol as part of the BBC’s Character Invasion day on Saturday 29 March 2014.

You can listen to it here.

TOLKIEN IN LOVE

  • Feature on BBC Radio 4

Tolkien in Love is about The Lord of the Rings author J.R.R. Tolkien, and particularly his dramatic early love life in Birmingham.

It’s a little known and touching story of young love torn apart, set in and around South Birmingham, where Tolkien lived as a young man (and where I live today).  The programme, which I presented, was created and produced by Sara Conkey.

 

You can listen to the programme here.

 

 

 

 

JAYA AND THE STAR

  • Radio drama, Louder Than Words, India.

Movie addict, Jaya, a clever schoolgirl  wants nothing other than to be a superstar….that is until the day a Bollywood beauty steps down from the cinema screen to greet her….and refuses to go away.    This radio drama was produced by Shilpa Nainani for Louder Than Words, a ground breaking women’s radio station in Delhi, India. The station aims to explore issues of Indian female identity and particularly, ‘urban Indian women and everything surrounding them.’ You can listen to one of their earlier podcasts here.

 

 

BLUE-EYED BOY

  • Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4
  • Shortlisted for the Innovation Award in the 2012 BBC Audio Drama Awards

This documentary-drama tells the true story of my father, Lawrence Cross, the evacuee who never went home. Told through improvised interviews and re-created actuality, the play is constructed as a documentary, as if it were happening now.

Directed by Mary Ward-Lowery and staring Lindsey Coulson as Violet and Jane Godber as Lilian, with John Godber as Dick.

You can listen to it here.

You can read a blog article written for  BBC Writersroom about the process of creating Blue-Eyed Boy here

 

ONE DAY

  •  Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4

On Shakespeare’s birthday in 1932 two young women set off from Birmingham to see the opening of the new theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon. One dreams of meeting the Prince of Wales, the other would be happier going to the local pictures. Meanwhile the architect and the producer are worrying about the building and the play.

Directed by Peter Wild with Catherine Skinner as Annie and Gillian Goodman as Joan, and Rachel Atkins as Elisabeth Scott.

Pick of the Day in The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Telegraph.

 

THE TYPIST WHO FLEW TO AUSTRALIA

  • Afternoon Play on BBC Radio 4

‘In her first radio drama, Helen Cross reconstructs the inner life of The Typist Who Flew to Australia (2.15pm, Radio 4). Such trips happen umpteen times a week now, but this one was in May 1930. Amy Johnson spent 19 days solo, piloting a small biplane from Croydon to Darwin – the first woman to complete the flight. It brought the Hull fish merchant’s daughter a £10,000 prize and worldwide fame. Having broken further aviation records, she enlisted as a wartime transport pilot. At the age of 41, she drowned after parachuting from a mysterious incident over the Thames estuary.’  Pick of the Day The Guardian

 

Amy Johnson became a national heroine when she flew unaccompanied to Australia in 1928. But what dark forces drove her to make such a treacherous journey claim her place in the history books?

You can listen to it here.

Directed by Peter Leslie Wild, with Cathryn Bradshaw as Amy Johnson.

 

THE RESTLESS HOME

  •  Afternoon Reading BBC Radio 4

The Restless Home is an eerie monologue narrated by a glamorous magician’s assistant  who, in her Forties heyday, toured the country performing to packed houses.  Now with the help of technologically savvy grandson, she’s found freedom and a new platform for her performances: delivering secret podcasts to an appreciative global audience, from the depths of her roll-in wardrobe.

Directed by Kirsteen Cameron, with Eileen McCallum as the magician’s assistant.

 

 

24 comments

  1. Maria

    I would love to listen “Tolkien in Love” somehow, but how? I was so happy there is something like it and I missed it!

  2. richard proctor

    hi helen,
    i enjoyed your timely ‘open letter to bees’. here in the village in transylvania i often work with my friend and neighbour vasile the beekeeper as his assistant. alas the bees don’t appreciate i’m a friend and stings are common, but then if someone was breaking into my house and stealing my food i’m sure i’d react in the same way.

    best wishes to you and your family for a good summer,
    r.

  3. richard proctor

    hi helen, romania calling once again, but not a post, just a message.

    some former students of mine run a site called watery times, and they have posted a few of my stories. if you fancy reading one, below is a link to the shortest -don’t worry, just under two sides of a 4- but which is very representative of my style and the things i write about. it’s geographically elusive, no names are given and speaks much about the natural world. i hope you like it.

    best wishes helen, and here’s the link:
    http://www.waterytimes.com/index.php?no=6&location=N006C06&txt=N006C06T02#.Uicm2n8bhdg
    r.

  4. Ellen Barrett

    Hi Helen,
    I missed Rowena the Wonderful on Radio 4 and I can’t get it on listen again. Do you know where I can hear it?
    Thanks
    Ellen

  5. Richard Proctor

    have just listend to ‘rowena the wonderful’. excellent work helen, and beautifully produced. i’ve heard a few of your radio plays and enjoyed them all, particularly ‘blue eyed boy’. we were on the same theatre studies a level course years ago. remember that? best wishes, r.

    • HelenCross

      Hi Richard, good to hear from you, and thanks so much for listening. Mary Ward Lowery, who also directed and produced Blue Eyed Boy, is a terrific producer and I”m lucky to work with her. Much of the credit for both these dramas should go to her. Yes, A Level drama! I remember that as one of the happiest times of my life. ARe things going well for you now? Are you still involved in theatre or drama? Hope so. Or in something more stable and more lucrative! Best wishe

  6. Rosalind Brearley

    Dear Helen.I ejoyed Blue Eyed Boy so much for the second time and was intrigued to read your recent comments on your father’s life as a result of his change in circumstances. I had tears in m y eyes listening again. Such a believable portrayal of a young boy with his jokes and laughter and of the dreadful decision his mother had to make.” It’s for the best.” I could almost feel that little boy’s presence across the air waves, so trusting and full of optimism.Desperately moving. I wonder if your father kept in touch with his mother for the rest of her life and did he have some sort of relationship with his siblings. It must have been so difficult.How much more convincing your play was without seeing the characters involved. So often on television programmes searching for long lost relatives the circumstances seem somewhat contrived but this was truly heartbreaking, and wonderful that we heard Lawrence’s voice and thoughts towards the end.With best wishes .Rosalind Brearley.

    • HelenCross

      Hi Rosalind, many thanks for taking the time to get touch. Once my father had found his mother in the 1970’s, and when he was in his thirties, they did stay in touch. A small wiry woman, she came to stay with us in the village of Newbald in East Yorkshire. She seemed enormously proud that her lost son had succeed well in life, was working as a teacher, and had his own house and family. She brought lovely presents for me and my sister. the musical doll you can hear tinkling at the start of the programme was a present she brought for me on that visit. I was amazed by it, certainly one of the most lavish presents I’d ever been given. She had lots of grandchildren but seemed to adore us newly found grandchildren just the same. Despite having little money she was a generous woman, witty and with a quick mind. She died a few years later, but before she passed away I went to visit her in London with my father . I was shocked by the tiny basement flat she lived in alone. It was just one room, and a small strip of garden. Her life had been very hard. My father did have a relationship with his siblings, and they were all delighted to reconnect with him. They helped him understand what had happened to him, and why, though their life experiences were by then all very different. He still sees his brother Stanley and is hugely fond of him. I think that all in all, it’s a story with a happyish ending. Best wishes Helen

  7. Jackie Pike

    What a wonderful story. Lawrence’s real mother made a difficult selfless decision in giving him up to the crosses and I am sure that although it seems almost heartless in this day and age, at the time must have seemed as being for the best. Did your father manage to have a good relationship with the rest of his natural family when he found them again or was the gulf too wide to overcome?

    Kind regards

    Jackie Pike

    • HelenCross

      Hi Jackie. Thanks for your message. I’m pleased that you felt Lawrence’s mother made a selfless decision – I think you’re right, and I was always trying in the writing to balance how hard this situation was for everyone. Violet had five children, no husband and no money in a bombed out post war world. Lilian was desperate for a baby. No one was to blame for what happened. I think everyone was trying to do the right thing. As I mentioned earlier in a reply to Rosalind, yes my father did overall manage to have a good relationship with his mother and brothers (his father remained unknown all his life). They were all pleased to find Lawrence again, and touchingly they always thought he’d find them eventually. Interestingly he also always had a good relationship with Mr Cross – who he would collect and bring to our house every Sunday all his adult life (Mrs Cross died in her sixties but Mr Cross lived on until his eighties, always missing his adored wife) My father was always grateful for Mr Cross’s gentle kindness during his childhood. His relationship with Mrs Cross was more tricky – she wasn’t his mother, and he always wanted his mother. Thanks again for listening. Best wishes

  8. Andy Williams

    Really pleased to have heard your play Blue-eyed boy on Radio 4. I thought it was eloquent and beautifully written, but what a heart-breaking tale; I cried!

  9. Kate Pannett

    I heard Blue-Eyed Boy this afternoon. Thought it was excellent. The players seemed lifted from real life, they were so natural in their delivery and the weave of drama/interview really worked well. The little boy was superb too. And such a complex, sad story. Thanks very much for such a quality piece of drama.

  10. Vreni

    Dear Helen
    I listened this afternoon on Radio 4 to your play Blue-Eyed Boy. I found it a subtle, nuanced and moving account of your father’s wartime, life-changing experiences. So much of the drama on radio and TV is heavy-handed and drearily obvious. I found this a refreshing change and will look out for future plays from you.
    Thank you and best wishes,
    Vreni

    • HelenCross

      Hi Vreni, Many thanks for taking the time to get in touch. I’m delighted you liked the play. We tried to use improvisation and a layering of voices and historic periods to create a fluid and unusual style. I’m so pleased you enjoyed it. Best wishes Helen.

  11. Dorothy

    I wondered what your father did for a living – sounds nosey – but I couldn’t judge whether it had been better for him to stay in Hull unless I knew what his life was like and what he had achieved by staying.(If you see what I mean) I understand the negative side from the play e.g. your name of Cross being his adopted name etc. and the break from his working class culture. Just wish you had said what he had done.
    Best wishes, Dorothy

    • HelenCross

      Hi Dorothy, Thanks for getting in touch and for listening to the play. My father trained as a teacher after attending Hull University and by the end of his career was Dean of a University himself. He stayed in East Yorkshire all his life. It was a very different path from one he might have taken if he’d stayed in London with his mother and brothers. I take your point about wanting to know this information – perhaps we should have mentioned it. We had so much we wanted to squeeze in but ended up having to leave lots out. Best wishes, and thanks again for taking the time to send me your thoughts. Best wishes Helen.

  12. Paula

    Dear Helen,
    I have just heard the radio 4 broadcast of your ‘Tolkein in Love’. I enjoyed it a great deal. I have a friend in India who is enormously fond of Tolkein and would like to send a link so he can also hear the broadcast. I have checked on the BBC website and found it is not available. Will it become so, soon?

    Kind regards, and thank you for the pleasure it gave,
    Paula

  13. Shilpa Nainani

    Dear Helen, I got your reference from Womenswriting. I am from India and looking for playwrights who can write Radio drama on the Modern indian women’s issues and essence. Would this interest you? Please let me know how we can take this forward:) As I remain positive:)

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