Veronica Cecil - Actress, Author, Playright.

Author, broadcaster, playwright, actress… 


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.
..absolutely enthralling.”

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…” 

“Daily Mail”



In Afganistan with Nawab the driver on an excursion to make a programme about a soap opera, a la Archers for Radio Three.









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 


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Veronica Cecil


I have lived a life on the edge of the great chasms of the twentieth century. A child of partition – growing up on North West Frontier, bordering on Afghanistan, as the Great Game played out in my girlhood home and the Nazi threat loomed; a white child in South Africa as it descended down the monstrous road of Apartheid; a young woman caught up in a deadly civil war in the Congo, a cat’s paw of the superpower Cold War conflict.

I write memoir with a difference – the backdrop is the conflict and upheaval you read about in the history books. I give you the mood, the intrigue and the lies adults told each other about a world changing in front of them. I show what it was really like and paint the past in vivid colours.

I am widowed with four children and nine grandchildren.

I have performed, taught drama, broadcast on the radio, and written for most of my adult life. I am widely travelled and give talks on my adventures.

I started my career as an actress – in repertory companies including Newcastle and Richmond in the UK.

When my children were small I got regular commissions to write half hour satirical television plays for children. I scripted a film and wrote two stage plays and published a short story in New Stories 3, an anthology published for the UK Arts Council in 1978 by Hutchinson.

I also wrote plays for BBC Radio 4

After taking a degree in English and Drama, I taught drama to young adults.

This was followed by a career as a freelance reporter making features and packages for BBC Radio 4 –  mainly for Woman’s Hour – as well as Radio 3 and the BBC World Service. I also wrote and broadcast documentaries and wrote and read short stories for Radio 4.

In 1990 I went out to South Africa and did a number of pieces mainly about the women in South Africa.

Having been born in British India I got a commission to go back to where I grew up and wrote and broadcast a series of six ‘Letters from Abroad’ about what the country was like during the days of the Raj and the current situation in what is now Pakistan.

I have also written articles among others for the Guardian and the Oldie – about playing a cameo role in the Profumo scandal when  British Intelligence listened in on the MP’s sexual exploits through our nursery wall.

In 2011 I wrote a book entitled ‘Drums on the Night Air’ published by Constable and Robinson, a memoir about going out to the Congo with my husband, getting caught up in a war and having to give birth to a baby while fleeing with my one year old son.

I have written a book entitled ‘Blood for our Blood’ about the murder of my mother’s cousin, a brilliant young surgeon, in Peshawar, British India 1932. The case appeared to have been abandoned for political reasons. In 1995 I went out to Pakistan and discovered the true reason for the murder.

After leaving India in 1947, my family went to Southern Africa.

I am currently writing a book about racism and colonialism entitled ‘Confessions of an Imperial Childhood

More about me

Past achievements
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