After a fantastic one-off feature-length Our Girl in March 2013, I was overjoyed when the air date for a full five-part series was announced. As the series concludes, here is what I made of BBC One‘s army drama.
That first film style drama hit the screens in March 2013 following the fictional journey of a East London girl bored of her home life and career as she saw an advert for the British army and followed her nose until she joined up. After signing up, we followed Molly Dawes (Lacey Turner) to training camp watching her physically struggle and watching her on the receiving end of sexism in the army (at least in the programmes fictional army, I have no idea how honest a representation it was). And, of course, there were smatterings of love.
But it was over in 90 minutes.
Mercifully, Our Girl was picked up for a five part drama with less army and so much more life about it. Placed on a Sunday against ITV favourite Downton Abbey, Our Girl always won my internal rating battle but the reading behind that changed after a couple of weeks. At first, I preferred BBC over ITV because I could record the latter and skip over the breaks but, within a couple of weeks, I chose BBC because I became emotionally involved in the series.
I am a sucker for getting involved in television shows but I have not felt as connected to a show as I have with this is a while. A real testament to the writer Tony Grounds and his fantastic production team. I am also known for practicing the art of ‘shipping’ – I do love a good romance story.
Molly found herself in a romantic liaison with Smurf (Iwan Rheon) before being deployed to Afghanistan with an all-male platoon as their medic. In true drama fashion, she fell in love with her boss Captain Charles James (Ben Aldridge) (as did I) and things got a little complicated because Smurf fell in love with Molly. It was all so predictable but I was hooked. Every kiss. Every whispered nothing. Every line between Molly and James had me in a flap. I even found myself cursing Smurf’s advances on Molly. Watching James try to protect Molly from the Taliban connects after she became emotionally involved with a local girl named Bashira who followed her around the town. That, in itself, was a wonderful storyline. Horrible haunted by the sense of predictability in that you always knew what was going to come next but yet it followed the exact course you wanted it to. You just knew Bashira was going to wind up in trouble but yet you wanted that to happen because you knew Molly was going to be the one to rescue her.
A secondary theme of the show was exploring Molly’s background. Her family were set up as working class ordinary folk who weren’t shy of their feelings toward Molly and her decisions. At first, they seemed hostile to the idea but by the end were beaming with pride. A natural thought process, I should think. The depiction of Molly as a vulnerable young woman enhanced the fabric of the drama as she reached out beyond her call of duty and became emotionally invested in Afghanistan and distant from her home.
The writing of the entire script is the biggest display of talent I have had the pleasure of watching.
As for how it ended, James resigned his commission meaning he would be free to be with Molly and thus became just Charles. So, yay! Love conquers all. Or, you know, near-death. Molly got the Military Cross. Smurf and Molly agreed to go on as best friends and planned a trip to Las Vegas. But, sadly, that wasn’t to be as Smurf passed away after a brain haemorrhage on the pitch at West Ham United.
The music in Our Girl was something else to be admired. The title track ‘War Rages On’ by Alex Clare always provided the perfect introduction in to the programme. Musical tracks smattered about the episodes were perfectly matched to the scene and added to the emotion. Another skill of the programme.
Series two, please! Our Girl, I salute you.