After the death of his mother, Jennifer, in November 2017, the writer Jeremy Raison found letters, diaries, divorce transcripts and an unpublished manuscript.
This sparked an unexpected journey unravelling some of the mystery of his late mother's troubled childhood. The youngest of four children, Jennifer was kept away from school until she was a teenager, and educated by a nurse who would gradually take the place of her mother.
Set between the late 1920s and early 1940s, Cuckoo explores the story of Jennifer and her mother Theo. Married at nineteen to a wealthy politician, Harold Eastleigh, Theo was said to be suffering from anxiety after the birth of her fourth child. After a period in hospital, Theo returned to the family home accompanied by one of the nurses, Miss Land. In the years to follow Miss Land would become a permanent feature in the family home, eventually leading to Theo and her husband divorcing. Miss Land become the second Mrs Eastleigh and young Jennifer's stepmother.
Did Theo suffer from post-natal depression before it was widely acknowledged as a condition? Was Harold simply unable to cope with an illness he knew little about, or was he under pressure to keep his family trouble out of the public eye? Brought up in this unsettling environment what effect would it have on young Jennifer?
Although some names and details have been changed this drama is based on a true story.
Omnibus director: David Ian Neville
First broadcast in five parts on BBC Radio 4 in 2019.
Writer Jeremy Raison explores the mystery of his late mother's childhood.