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Summary

An epic 12-part drama about the events leading up to, and following, the execution of King Charles I

England, 1647. Oliver Cromwell's New Model Army has routed the Royalists, and the king, having fled to Scotland, has been ransomed, sent back across the border and imprisoned. It seems the war is over, but there is trouble ahead. Parliament wants to disband the army and install its own militia—an act that looks, to Cromwell's loyal soldiers, like outright betrayal.

As dissent grows within the ranks, agitators such as Francis White and John Reynolds, and leading Leveller John Lilburne, step up to speak for the common man. What began with a dispute over army demobilisation soon becomes far more, and a radical faction arises demanding freedom, equality and power to the people. But for Cromwell and his commander in chief, Thomas Fairfax, this is a challenge to Parliament's authority and smacks of revolution. Facing a schism within the army, Cromwell is torn—but when the king escapes from custody, he and his troops have a new threat to deal with....

Meanwhile, the women at home have troubles of their own. Clever, independent Penelope White is subject to the whims of her intransigent father, who wants her to marry a man of his choosing. And Lilburne's wife, Elizabeth, must risk her life each time she smuggles forbidden political papers into his cell in the Tower of London. As their men prepare to fight once more, what does the future hold for them?

Set between the pivotal years of 1647 and 1649, this classic civil war drama stars Bernard Hepton as Cromwell, Nigel Anthony as Fairfax, Graham Blockey as Francis White, Christian Rodska as Lilburne, William Eedle as Charles I, Deborah Makepeace as Penelope and Maureen O'Brien as Elizabeth.

Cast and credits

Written by Don Taylor

God's Revolution

Lord General Fairfax - Nigel Anthony

John Church—Eric Allan

Francis White—Graham Blockey

Charles I/Lieut. Colonel Jackson/Cornet Denne—William Eedle

Oliver Cromwell—Bernard Hepton

Stephen White—David March

John Reynolds—Kim Wall

John Lilburne—Christian Rodska

James Thompson—Simon Cuff

Miles Sindercombe/Col. Rainsborough/Sir William Waller/Morrison—John Baddeley

Corporal Perkins/Silent soldier/Simeon/Joseph/Winstanley/Brother Gerard—Steve Hodson

Colonel James/Lockyer/Major General Skippon/Huntingdon—Peter Craze

Edmund White/Major Gooday/Col. Scroop—Cornelius Garrett

Penelope White—Deborah Makepeace

Elizabeth Lilburne—Maureen O'Brien

William Thompson/Captain Musket—Anthony Jackson

Commissary Ireton—Bill Wallis

Edward Sexby/Col. Whalley—John Hartoch

Lady Anne Fairfax—Lin Sagovsky

Cornet Joyce/Everard—Jonathan Nibbs

Betty—Zelah Clarke

Mrs Cromwell/Martha—June Barrie

John Lilburne—Christian Rodska

Beggar woman—June Tobin

John Wildman—Stephen Rashbrook

Robin—Elizabeth Lindsay

Isaac—Christopher Asante

Capt. Hatton—Alan Coveney

Pride—Norman Eshley

Mary Overton—Barbara Kellermann

Mrs Chidley—Ellen Dryden

Barry—Paul Sirr

Directed by Shaun MacLoughlin and Ronald Mason

Psalms arranged by Blaise Compton

First broadcast BBC Radio 4, 7th October-23rd December 1988

©2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd (P)2022 BBC Studios Distribution Ltd

Critic reviews

"Classy writing...wonderfully crisp, with a brilliant cast." (The Spectator)

What listeners say about Cromwell vs the Crown: God’s Revolution

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Absolutely riveting. A tour de force.

This has to be one of
the best radio plays of all time. The story is skilfully constructed, the direction and performances superb. I found it absolutely riveting! Don't miss it!!

7 people found this helpful

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Loved it on Radio4 Extra so I bought the audiobook

A great listen on Radio4 Extra, it's even better now that I can listen when I like.
It's an English Civil war drama that engages the listener in historical events, not just of the main characters such as Oliver Cromwell and King Charles, but many of the troops.
A recommendation for anyone interested in historical drama.

Chapters are named.

7 people found this helpful

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A World Turned Upside Down

This drama is set in a truly fascinating period of history but it can be followed without knowing too much about it. The writing, acting and production values are as one would expect from the BBC superb and the listener really feels they are in there amongst the characters. It sounds as fresh now as when it was made in 1988 even allowing for advances in production techniques since then. Along with the BBC's By the Sword Divided it is a superlative look at a time when the world indeed appeared upside down as the country violently split into Royalist and Parliamentary factions.

4 people found this helpful

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Captivating and human civil war story

Captivating and human journey through a complex period of English history. It’s hard to keep up with whose fighting whom at times, but gives great insight into the dirty underbelly of civil war.

3 people found this helpful

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Excellent Dramatisation

This is a noisy, action-packed and fast-paced drama set in the middle of the English civil war.

It’s a great recording, and sounds fantastic through multiple speakers.

I liked how the drama is split into 12 sections, like the radio broadcast, so it is easy to listen to as much or as little as you like with natural breaks.

It might be helpful to refresh yourself with the main protagonists and their roles, before listening - as everything happens very quickly in this production!

I found this a really enjoyable and entertaining listen, and I particularly liked how the drama focused on the soldiers more than big political players.

2 people found this helpful

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Dieu Et Mon Droit

Great story with great narration, but I did find the constant shouting; arguing, fighting far too loud, only for the story to go whisper quiet, it made it harder to follow. (Yes I do have up to date war buds). But all in all thoroughly enjoyable, and fully recommend.

2 people found this helpful

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PURITIAN REBELLION

I have. the highest respect. for the puritan Revolution Cromwell was a man who lived to see. the. birth of a. republic. which a lot of the powers that hate. the idea of ordinary folk have. the brains. and. the education. to rule. their. own lives liborne. was a. man who. was the real hero of this story pointing to the. way forward to a. city. on a hill even pointing to the early. colonists in rebellion to the. king in 1776 in America

2 people found this helpful

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Brilliant production

This is an outstanding listen and highly recommended. The period comes alive in sound.

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Dated

It’s an OK listen if you’re interested in the history. A bit too much overacting for my liking but the biggest issue is the volume which is all over the place.

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hard to listen to.

the recording was really bad. the sound levels were going up and down . spoilt the whole book.