As something akin to summer starts to arrive in the UK, TV generally starts to go downhill. The strong dramas, such as Downton, Mr Selfridge and Broadchurch tend to air during the autumn and winter months, when the curtains are drawn and all anyone really wants to do is to settle in front of the TV.
How refreshing then, to learn that a fantastic new six-part drama, Home Fires, is coming to ITV on Sunday, May 3rd. Sunday’s are great for watching a serial drama, because escaping to another world for an hour or so is a fabulously relaxing end to the week before Monday beats down our door again. Home Fires looks like it will be the perfect Sunday night entertainment.
Inspired by Julie Summers’ non-fiction book, Jambusters, Home Fires follows a group of women within a small, rural Cheshire community as World War II arrives. As most people did at the time, these women assume the war won’t really affect their lives but the conflict soon takes hold, separating the women from their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers. Ultimately, the women find themselves under increasing pressure in a “rapidly fragmenting world.”
“By banding together as the Great Paxford Women’s Institute, they help maintain the nation’s fabric in its darkest hour, and discover inner resources that will change their lives forever.”
A fantastic ensemble cast is led by Francesca Annis and Samantha Bond, both of whom are always a joy to see on our screens and they are joined by a whole host of outstanding actresses including Ruth Gemmell (Utopia), Claire Rushbrook (Collision) and Frances Grey (The Widower). Other cast include Mark Bonnar (Line of Duty), Ed Stoppard (Cilla), Rachel Hurd-Wood (Return of Sherlock Holmes) and Claire Price (Doctors).
The trailer for Home Fires promises a heartfelt, emotional drama and I am really looking forward to it arriving on our screens. Some of the main characters are as follows:
Frances Barden (Samantha Bond)
Described as “the heart and soul of the village’s WI,” Frances is not allowed a seat on the committee because of her totalitarian streak. “A great woman to have in your corner, but a terrible opponent, as she can’t stop until her view has either browbeaten all others into submission, or cleared the room.”
Sarah Collingborne (Ruth Gemmell)
Younger sister of Frances, Sarah is married to the village vicar. She is described as “gentle, insightful and a fantastic listener.” Basically, the complete opposite of her sister. Her husband Adam is ten years older, and has already seen action as a chaplain during WWI. He came back a broken man and Sarah then met him and nursed him back to health. She struggles with the role of “vicar’s wife” as she doesn’t have a strong faith in God.
Pat Simms (Claire Rushbrook)
“Through her friendship with the other women in Great Paxford, and the new WI, Pat is encouraged to push the boundaries of what she’s able to achieve, and becomes much more self-assured – a confidence that sadly doesn’t extend to her home life.” Pat’s husband, Bob, is very opinionated and believes she should stay at home to look after him and doesn’t approve of her involvement in the WI. Pat is very loyal, and doesn’t want anyone to find out about the psychological abuse she suffers at home.
Joyce Cameron (Francesca Annis)
Joyce is married to the local magistrate, and is the ex-WI president. Joyce likes to be in charge if everything because she likes to be in control and she truly believes she knows best. She is on every committee or board going and is delighted that the war offers her the scope to extend her influence. She believes firmly in the “stability of social hierarchy”; some might say she is a first class snob.
Will the war change her opinions in order to be at the forefront of this new women-led world?
Episode one will introduce the characters as we see Joyce Cameron resigning as leader of the Great Paxford WI and taking most of the membership with her. As war threatens, Frances Barden and her supporters come together to resurrect the institute and recruit new members.
The WI, British country village life, a stellar cast featuring amazing actresses… You just know this is going to be one to watch! Join us for tea and crumpets (with jam of course) on Sunday, May 3rd as Home Fires airs at 9pm, ITV1.
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