Christine Orr

From Scotland On Air
Jump to: navigation, search
Christine Grant Millar Orr
Born (1899-08-04)4 August 1899
38 Great King Street, Edinburgh
Died 18 May 1963(1963-05-18) (aged 63)
Nationality Scottish
Education St George's School, Edinburgh
Alma mater
  • Somerville College, Oxford University
  • BBC Children's Hour organiser, 1936–1940
  • BBC Talks Assistant, 1940–
Predecessor Cecile Walton
Spouse(s) Robert Hynde Forsyth Stark
  • Robert Low Orr
  • Euphemia Millar

Christine Orr (4 August 1899–18 May 1963) was a novelist and dramatist and organiser of the BBC's Scottish Children's Hour from 1936 to 1940.

Early life

Born in Edinburgh, the only daughter of Sheriff Robert Low Orr, an advocate, she was educated at St George's School, Edinburgh, and Somerville College, Oxford.

Orr was a director of drama classes in Edinburgh University Settlement, Kirk o' Field College, Craigmillar College, and Cameron House, Edinburgh.

In her early writings she received the counsel of John Buchan, and wrote several novels which enjoyed much popularity before the Second World War.[1] One of her early writings appeared in the first issue of Hugh MacDiarmid's Scottish Chapbook in August 1922, the publication which started the Scottish literary renaissance.

From 1929, she was editor of Greatheart, the Church of Scotland's magazine for children.

BBC career

Christine Orr had already a been a contributor to Scottish programmes when she succeeded Cecile Walton as organiser of the BBC's Scottish Children's Hour on 29 December 1936.[2] In the opinion of broadcaster Howard Lockhart, she was "one of the best-loved and most delightful people ever to be on the BBC staff".[3]

Orr refused to take less than £500 per annum (she had been earning £600 as a freelance journalist) even though this was almost double the usual rate for the role.[4] It made her one of only three women who arrived at the BBC before the Second World War to earn more than £500.[5]

Orr became Scottish talks assistant/producer in 1940.[6] She edited a weekly programme called The Scotswoman, which ran from 14 January 1947, with regular features including household management, health, women's news topics, and notes on dress, beauty care, crafts, and repairs in the house.[7]


She married journalist Robert Stark (1905–1980) in Edinburgh in 1944. Stark was a drama critic and served in the army during the Second World War, involved with Forces broadcasting from Hamburg, editing plays, etc.

Together they formed the 'Unicorn Players' and established the Princes Theatre in Edinburgh. By 1955, Christine Orr was arranging four performances a day — a children's show in the morning, ballet in the afternoon, a historical play in the evening, and a thriller at midnight. They also staged the 'Masque of Edinburgh' before the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh during the Coronation visit of 1953.

Later career

The Christine Orr Players performed as part of the 1948 Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

She founded a leading Edinburgh amateur drama group, 'The Makars'.[8]

BBC archive

No audio related to "Christine Orr" appears in the BBC's internal catalogue.


  1. 'Obituary: Christine Orr', Glasgow Herald, 20 May 1963, 7.
  2. 'Miss Christine Orr's BBC appointment', Glasgow Herald, 2 December 1936, 7.
  3. Howard Lockhart, On My Wavelength (Aberdeen: Impulse Books, 1973), 24–5.
  4. Christine Orr to Melville Dinwiddie, 7 October 1936; Christine Orr to Pym, 13 November 1936; BBC WAC L1/328/1.
  5. The others were Hilda Matheson and Mary Adams.
  6. Kate Murphy, 'Behind the Wireless: A History of Early Women at the BBC (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016), 130.
  7. '[ Scottish Broadcasting News', Falkirk Herald, 15 January 1947, 4.
  8. 'Obituary: Christine Orr', The Stage, 23 May 1963, 17.
Media offices
Preceded by
Cecile Walton
Scottish Children's Hour organiser
Succeeded by