Episode Six Out Now!
Listen now on all good podcast platforms.
The eight-part first series of The Letter from Helvetica Podcast releases weekly and follows the adventures of Abigail Wesley, a talented young botanist who is spending a year on the ever-so-slightly-made-up island of Burbango in the island nation of Vanuatu in the South Pacific, and her Uncle John, an acerbic retired Lieutenant Colonel who lives in the not-quite-real village of Helvetica in Cornwall.
Written by and starring Andrew Mackintosh as John and co-starring Natalie Roles as Abby, the first six episodes are now available to listen to. Both Andrew and Natalie played major roles in ITV’s long-running police series, “The Bill.”
We’re really excited that Letter from Helvetica has charted in Apple Podcasts Top 100 TV/Film Podcasts after only two episodes! HUGE thanks to everyone who has tuned in so far and left us a nice review/rating, it really helps!
If you enjoy what you hear, we would be most grateful if you could help spread the word!
Letter from Helvetica is produced by Oliver Crocker, creator and presenter of The Bill Podcast.
Illustration by Florence Mackintosh
Andrew Mackintosh is an actor, writer and musician, best known for playing D.S. Alastair Grieg in ITV’s long-running series The Bill. He is one half of musical duo, Joe Dooley and Andrew Mackintosh – find out about them here – and also writes for a number of online publications. He is also a partner in IT Support Company, IT Planning, for whom he makes websites – like this very one you’re on right now.
Natalie Roles is Mum to her 16-year old son and 7-year old Portuguese Water Dog. From stage to screen to her wardrobe – where recording voice work has become her perfect commute to work. Her new role as Abigail Wesley is far from Sunhill’s Ice Queen, DS Debbie McAllister and we hope you will enjoy the adventures in Burbango with her. For more adventures with Natalie, follow here.
Oliver spent the first decade of his career working in TV Production and Film Marketing. His television credits include three series as a Researcher on ITV’s “This Morning”, followed by four years producing trailers, TV spots, social content and DVD special features for dozens of feature film releases, including “The Hatton Garden Job”, “The Limehouse Golem” and the 2016 “Dad’s Army” remake.
Oliver is also the author of two “Witness Statements” books, which celebrate the early years of “The Bill”, plus the “All Memories Great and Small” guide to the original BBC series.
Letter from Helvetica
What’s it all about then?
Letter from Helvetica is a novel that Andrew wrote in his spare time over a four-year period. In a blinding flash of unadulterated genius – albeit one that took about ten years to gestate – he realised that it would make a splendid, dramatised podcast. With great good fortune, he managed to trick persuade fellow The Bill alumnus Natalie into playing the role of Abigail, and fool entice Oliver into producing it.
The year is 2010, and Abigail has been sent by her employer to research, among other things, Kava-Kava root on the ever so slightly made-up island of Burbango, a tiny speck of dormant volcano nestling among the 83 islands that make up the South Pacific nation of Vanuatu. Having tasked her with spending a whole year away from her home, her kindly boss has agreed for her to be accompanied by her husband and three young children.
John Stotter, a retired Lieutenant Colonel, lives in a rambling old house in the tiny village of Helvetica that skulks in the far Western reaches of Cornwall. Uncle to Abigail, the two enjoy a relationship that is considerably closer than that she has ever had with her father. Sharing a similar outlook on life and a similar sense of humour, they resolve to write to each other regularly during her sojourn in the Southern Hemisphere.
Letter from Helvetica is the collected chronicles, tales, musings and canards that constitute their correspondence, introducing us along the way to a veritable mishmash, jumble and salmagundi of diverse characters.
It takes a wry look at the nature of village life and turns on its head some of our preconceptions regarding what is ‘civilised’ and what is ‘primitive’. And it takes a sideways glance at the sometimes peculiar and complex relationships with clothing that different cultures develop, even when clothing offers no discernible benefit.
Abigail’s year away is not yet six months old when it is suddenly interrupted by Mother Nature at her most brutal, leaving many unanswered questions:
How will John’s unexpected friendship with a singularly talentless yet enormously wealthy Hollywood movie star turn out? Will Papa Pierre ever get his widescreen replaced? Will Sadie ever forgive John for the incident in the urinal? Will Abigail ever return to Burbango and, more importantly, will she ever wear a basket blong titi again?
How Can I Listen?
How Can I Read?
The fact is that you can’t! Not yet, anyway. Our plan is to publish Letter from Helvetica in book form later on this year. So watch this space!
How Can I Support?
If you would like to binge-listen to the entire first series of Letter from Helvetica, you can unlock all eight episodes NOW, along with exclusive behind the scenes content, on www.patreon.com/letterfromhelvetica
If you’d like to support us generally, or help us in our development of Series 2, which we are aiming to release this Autumn, then we would be grateful for donations via www.ko-fi.com/letterfromhelvetica
You can contribute to Global Giving’s Vanuatu Cyclone Relief Fund at https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/vanuatu-cyclone-relief-fund/
What People Are Saying
Mackintosh’s writing is dense, nicely observed and peopled with a diverse collection of characters. And thanks to the skill of both readers, over time it’s impossible not to get drawn in.
Drift away in your imagination, soaking up the wonderful diction in this amusing podcast. The voices draw you in and hook you from the outset and bring the characters to life. Listen to the synopsis prologue to get useful context to the tale. It’s simply wonderful!
Absolutely brilliant!! Laughed from start to finish!! One of the funniest and most brilliantly written stories I’ve had the pleasure of listening to!
Helvetica and Burbango
Letter from Helvetica is set in the fictional villages of Helvetica in Cornwall, and Burbango in Vanuatu.
Helvetica – a widely used sans-serif typeface developed in 1957 by Swiss typeface designer Max Miedinger with Eduard Hoffmann at the Haas Type Foundry. Originally called ‘Neue Haas Grotesk’, the typeface’s name was changed by Haas’ German parent company to ‘Helvetica’ (meaning Swiss in Latin) in order to make it more marketable. The word’s origins come from a derivative of the Swiss goddess, Helvetia. She is the national personification of the Swiss Confederation (Confoederatio Helvetica), much like the America’s Statue of Liberty. Helvetia’s figure is used on Swiss government documents and currency. “CH” is often used as an abbreviation for “Switzerland”.
Helvetica – a village in the far west of Cornwall, England. Its name is thought to be derived from an offshoot of the Gallic Helvetian tribe that originated in what is now Switzerland. The tribe’s attempted migration to Southern France in 58 BC was halted by the oncoming forces of the Roman commander and subsequent emperor, Julius Caesar. A small number of Helvetians managed to flee across the English Channel and settled close to Lands’ End overlooking the Penberth valley, giving their name to the settlement that flourished there.
Picture courtesy of www.meetmebythesea.co.uk
Picture courtesy of www.meetmebythesea.co.uk
Burbango – a small island in the Shefa province in the lsland nation of Vanuatu. It is largely made up of a dormant volcano, with coral beaches to the south and east and a rocky coast to the north and west. There is one village which shares the island’s name and which has a population in the region of 400, although exact figures are hard to ascertain. It is a source of Kava root and, historically, was also a source of forced labour for the cane fields of Queensland, Australia in the nefarious practice known as “Blackbirding”.