ROMEO ECHO DELTA is a new sound project by Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard produced especially for AND festival. It is inspired by a long line of hoax alien invasions and fake UFO scares, most famously, Orson Welles’ radio play of H.G Well’s science fiction novel War of the Worlds broadcast for Halloween in 1938, as well as the BBC’s groundbreaking Broadcasting the Barricades by Father Ronald Knox, 12 years earlier.


The work was broadcast by BBC Radio Merseyside on 31 October 2011, accompanied by an ominous red light in the night sky above Birkenhead. Dense with speculation, confusion and repetition, the transmission began with the arrival of a studio guest, X Factor finalist Maria Lawson. Her interview is interrupted with the breaking news of the unexplained RED light. Local eyewitnesses, hastily found experts and idle speculation finally gives way as everything breaks down.

Plugging into an age-old fascination with the red planet and the possibility of earth invasion from another world, Forsyth & Pollard aim to unpick the nature of contemporary reporting, where breaking news stories are frequently caught in a suspended limbo before any real facts emerge. ROMEO ECHO DELTA occupies this same space – this contemporary phenomenon.

There are two versions of this work because Version A was rejected by the BBC editorial policy board, who deemed it too realistic and likely to induce panic in their listeners. Following edits and re-recording, Version B was produced and aired, with BBC presenter Lee Bennion replaced by actor Matthew Crompton.


Click play to listen to an excerpt from ROMEO ECHO DELTA (Version B)

Commissioned by Abandon Normal Devices as part of AND’s 2011 programme

Script by Ben Moor

Lee Bennion as himself (Version A)
Matthew Crompton at Lee (Version B)
Maria Lawson as herself
Saira Choudhry as Sadia Medhi
Roger Phillips as himself
Dr. Ciarán O’Keeffe as himself
Pauline Daniels as Christie Greig
Kenny Thompson as Karim Munir
Carla Morris as JoJo
Francesca Dolan as Courtney
Derek Hicks as Policeman
Malcolm Freeman as Andy
Dan Armour as Damon
Charlie Dickinson as Darren

Recorded at LJMU by David Ellis and Colin Robinson

Project manager Vivienne Gaskin
Project manager (North West) Kerenza McClarnon

With thanks to Mick Ord at BBC Radio Merseyside, LJMU and Mersey Tunnels

Graphic design by Chris Bigg


AND festival is presented by Cornerhouse (Manchester), FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) (Liverpool) and folly (Lancaster), and is an innovative new festival of arts and cultural debate for the Northwest.

AND is a 2012 inspired festival, funded by Legacy Trust UK and part of WE PLAY, the Northwest cultural legacy programme for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Legacy Trust UK is an independent charity set up to create a lasting cultural legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games across the UK.