It’s been a whole two weeks since the final episode of ‘Our Girl’ aired, so this is more of an appreciation than a review BUT this may, inadvertently, contain SPOILERS.
I was lucky enough to spot and watch the original two part drama (Pilot), starring Lacey Turney, last year and I couldn’t praise it enough back then.
So when I heard that Series 1 was being filmed early this year, I got that tingly feeling. The feeling that nearly makes you wish the Summer away, so that you can get straight to the good Winter telly. I couldn’t have begun to anticipate just how good it was going to be.
The writing is of course the foundation to any successful drama and by golly did Tony Grounds get it right. Having had the basis of the storyline Tony Grounds also spoke to service personnel in order to flesh out the bones authentically. Add that to the fantastic acting skills of Lacey Turner (Medic Molly Dawes), Arinze Kene (Cpl Kinders), Ben Aldridge (Capt James) and Iwan Rheon (Smurf) to name but a few and you have a drama that is so close to the truth that it triggered my PTSD.
I was that ‘fresh out the box’ (Female) troop, on her first tour of duty, in a war zone. I put female in brackets because the sex of the service personnel doesn’t define them but it does make some situations exceptional. I was one of only 3 women to 800 men when I arrived in Bosnia, you can’t help but feel a little intimidated. That you need to prove to them that you can look after yourself but able to keep the back of the rest of your platoon. Watching Dawes arrive in Afghan, was almost like watching myself arrive in Bos, in a weird out of body experience kind of way.
When Dawes went on R&R, she experienced what so many of us have. Not being able to articulate what we have seen and done. Not being able to explain our reactions to a car back firing or why we subconsciously avoid walking on the grass….’stay on the hard’. This is one of the reasons that Smurf becomes so infatuated with Molly, its not only a hero worship for saving his life akin to Lois Lane and Superman but also that no one else, not even the rest of their platoon, can understand what happened in that life or death moment.
Its not that we think our civvy friends and family won’t understand, but sometimes we don’t always fully understand what has happened ourselves.
We have been functioning 24/7 in survival mode. I found being in camp almost Big Brother-esque. Minimal contact with the outside world, someone else controls your mealtimes, activities etc. When you step outside the gates some of the ‘audience’ not only want to vote you off but want to kill you. The only place you go by yourself is to the bathroom. Service personnel are high functioning machines, thats the only way you have a chance of surviving, whilst you do the job you came to do.
And then after all that adrenaline, comes the heart wrenching return to the UK and what that means. Fellow troops killed, friends and Oppo’s injured, no longer able to do the job that has been their life. The effect that has on everyone that they’ve ever met them. A ripple effect that leaves no one untouched. “I gave the Army my two boys and they just give me back a flag” Smurf’s Mum
Ultimately ‘Our Girl’ showed and reminded us of the immense courage our troops have, who constantly return to these war-zones time after time to do the same the job. It might be a different country, it might be a different enemy but war is war.
We don’t do enough, I feel, to recognise and thank our troops. It’s almost as if we are too embarrassed to bring it up but I can’t figure out why. If the ‘Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red” installation at the Tower of London has showed us anything, its that the British public need to something to prompt them. “This is not about war or barbarity …. it’s about loss and commemoration” Tom Piper, Creator of Memorial.
|Tower Of London. Photo via Historical Royal Palaces & fastcocreate.com|
Fantastic writing, acting and production, of the same calibre and subject as ‘Our Girl’ , brings it all to the forefront of our minds. Makes the 2 dimensional obituaries of the fallen into 3 dimensional people with lives, families and friends and I think that it is the very least we can do. To help people speak about their experiences, and share their loved ones story.
I hope that the BBC does commission a 2nd series of ‘Our Girl’, not just for it’s drama but to remind us of the sacrifice all service personnel past, present and future make on behalf of our freedom.
Very Important NB: I wasn’t able to name all of the actors involved in ‘Our Girl’ but they couldn’t have gotten any of the banter more spot on and for that they deserve recognition too, so please check them out via IMDB – Our Girl