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A light at the end

June: Voice Of A Silent Twin logo

June: Voice Of A Silent Twin review

Production company – BBC

Rating – 5 Brains

There are a lot of superstitions and beliefs surrounding twins. Stories of almost telepathic links between siblings are common and their alleged mirroring behaviour has caused suspicion and fascination through history.

June: Voice Of A Silent Twin has a different perspective on things. It shows what happens when siblings become so isolated, even from their own families, that the line between what is acceptable behaviour becomes blurred, with devastating consequences.

So what’s it about?

June Gibbons and her sister Jennifer rose to notoriety in the 1970s after a short lived spate of arson attacks on derelict buildings in their home town of Haverfordwest. Their full story wasn’t uncovered until after that though.

This remarkable story really starts when the twins were in school. The twins both had problems with their speech, and because nobody could understand them, they were bullied. So they stopped talking, except to each other. While they refused to talk, they did write. They wrote constantly.

As they became teenagers, they watched the world from their bedroom window. Both terrified of entering the world, and still desperate to do so. It is this duality that ruled their lives. The twins couldn’t stand each other, and frequently threatened each other’s lives, yet they couldn’t bear to be apart.

By the time they were 18 though, they were going out. Albeit going out drinking, smoking and sniffing glue. With no guidance or the experience of growing up in social circles, they were just cast adrift, influenced by whoever they had latched on to. And then the arson started.

Is it any good?

This is a heartbreaking story. From the first episode, you can sense the inexorable spiral downwards. Their feelings of being outcasts create a vicious circle that seems impossible to escape. Indeed, you could argue that June didn’t really escape until two major life events occurred.

As the twins grow up, their naivety brings such a sense of sadness to the listener. They really had no idea what they were getting themselves into, and as the behaviour escalated, so did the punishment (disproportionately, you could argue). As their final sentence is passed, June’s recollection of how they felt will surely bring a tear to your eye, particularly if you are in the UK, and know exactly what she is talking about.

Along with June, the story is told with interviews of medical professionals and councillors who worked with the twins during their childhood. There are archive clips of the parents as well, that give some slight insight into what family life was like. Educational psychologist Tim Thomas worked with the twins from when they moved to Haverfordwest, right through their childhood. He was one of the few, if not the only adult who really cared for them.

Final thoughts

If you take this story at face value, or only have a passing knowledge of it, then it is nothing more than a curiosity. Just a weird tale of two odd girls who lived odd lives and ended up locked away. There is so much more to it though, and I don’t think it would have the impact if it wasn’t told by June herself.

There is so much to unpack here. It truly is one of those “what if” stories. There is no doubt that June and her sister could have had successful careers. Yes, the system did fail them, as it has for so many. Their relationship to each other was so unique and harmful though, you can’t help but wonder if they ever really did stand a chance.

I’m glad that June has found some semblance of normality now. Hopefully this podcast will help her regain some of the life she lost all those years ago.

You can get June: Voice Of A Silent Twin here:


For more podcast reviews, I recommend GreatPods.

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