I began my career writing plays for radio and went on to conceive and broadcast documentaries as well as ‘packages’ for Radio 3, Radio 4 and the World Service. I travelled extensively and had the privilege of going out to South Africa when Nelson Mandela was released. I made ‘packages’ for ‘Woman’s Hour’ about the women living in the squatter camps and the huge changes currently taking place. I was able to interview my erstwhile heroine, Helen Joseph, a lynch pin in the freedom struggle. I also interviewed Nomalizo Leah Tutu, wife of Archbishop Desmond Tutu, at their home in Soweto – She confessed to being tempted to throw stones at passing tourists in buses who gawped at her as if she were in a zoo.
In 1995 I was commissioned to write a series of six pieces comparing my memories of my childhood in British India with what was going on in Pakistan. I travelled all over the North West Frontier Province and even went up into the Tribal Territories – the no-man’s land between Pakistan and Afghanistan. I also went up into Afghanistan to make a ‘package’ for Radio 3.
Praise for “Letters From Abroad”, written and read by Veronica Cecil, BBC Radio 4:
“A real treat … neatly elides memories into verbal snapshots of today.
Gillian Reynolds “Daily Telegraph”
“Blending her personal memories with the wider picture,
Miss Cecil effortlessly packs more into her quarter hour than many an hour long documentary…”
I would pitch things and say ‘I’ve got a nice idea.’ If I was going abroad I’d pitch not only to ‘Woman’s Hour’ but to programmes like the arts programme ‘Kaleidoscope’ or even ‘Farming Today.’ That’s how I got the commission to go to Pakistan and pick up material not only for my six ‘Letters from Abroad’ but also for my book ‘Blood for our Blood’. I love sounds and I not only love the autonomy because you have to do everything yourself, but the thrill of meeting interesting and often famous people. I find the whole process of making radio programmes