Professor Rosalind Crone returns as historical consultant for the third series of Lady Killers with Lucy Worsley, appearing throughout the series providing her expertise. The 10-part series broadcasts from 10 January on BBC Radio Four and on BBC Sounds.
Ros was historical consultant for the first two series, working with Lucy, and Lady Killers was one of the top ten most popular BBC podcasts in both 2022 and 2023. The third series is a co-production between the OU and the BBC, opening up new opportunities.
The true-crime series is unique, in using historical cases of female killing to reflect on the lives of women in the past and the present. An all-female team, which includes a historian and a contemporary expert, investigate the ordinary lives and extraordinary crimes of women of the 19th and 20th centuries, from a feminist perspective. Ros explains that “this is a series about women - their lives and problems - and we wanted to hear what they had to say about the circumstances they found themselves in. Each episode includes their words, extracted from the surviving historical evidence.”
“Series 3 is really fresh. We cover all new themes, there is no overlap with the previous two series.”
Ros has created content for BBC Connect around two of the cases, which “stand out from the point of view of an historian: a case from Australia, the killing of an Aboriginal child who had been put into care, the circumstances of which allows us to recover the testimonies of First Nations women; and a case of infanticide from Northern Ireland, where we had very few sources to work with but were able to piece together a compelling story which draws attention, once again, to the devastating choices made by women with unwanted pregnancies at a time of financial hardship and social stigma surrounding illegitimacy.”
The new series features prominently in BBC History Magazine’s January 2024 edition, with a startling front cover and Ros summarising six cases within its pages, including Alice Mitchell’s attack on her childhood sweetheart which challenged contemporary attitudes toward female same-sex relationships; the terrible “black cloud” suffered by Mary Ann Brough, wet nurse to the Prince of Wales; and Mary Surratt, the first woman to be executed by the US Federal government – for her part in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.
Ros notes that the third series being an OU/BBC co-production provides “an opportunity to invite listeners behind the scenes, to see how we put the series together and, crucially, to gain insights into how historians work.” The interactive content on OU Connect enables you to watch exclusive conversations between the presenters, hear the letters of Lady Killers brought to life, gain insights into how historians track down evidence, and find out more about the recovery of women's voices.
Recipient of an ‘Innovation in Teaching Prize’ from the Royal Historical Society in 2022, Ros has also created a free course Exploring the history of prisoner education, with a short accompanying video series. The course is recommended for the professional development of anyone working in prisons or criminal justice, as well as for prisoners who want to try higher-level learning and to reflect on their educational experiences.