Call The Mid­wife

Call The Mid­wife ac­tress Jes­sica Raine talks about her lead­ing role in the ac­claimed Bri­tish pe­riod drama The Last Post. The se­ries is play­ing ex­clu­sively on TVNZ On­De­mand. James Ramp­ton re­ports.

The TV Guide - - CONTENTS -

star takes lead­ing role in a new pe­riod drama.

T

he Last Post is sound­ing for the Bri­tish Em­pire in The

Last Post. This ab­sorb­ing six-part Bri­tish drama, which zooms in on the fi­nal days of Bri­tish rule in 1960s Aden (in Ye­men), is based on the child­hood mem­o­ries of the Bafta-win­ning writer Peter Mof­fat (The Vil­lage, Ein­stein And Ed­ding­ton, Hawk­ing).

Mof­fat’s fa­ther worked in Aden as an of­fi­cer in the Royal Mil­i­tary Po­lice, while his mother was torn be­tween be­ing what the army ex­pected her to be and what she wanted to be. The Last Post, which stars Jes­sica Raine (Call The Mid­wife), Jessie Buck­ley (War And Peace), Amanda Drew (Broad­church), Stephen Camp­bell Moore (His­tory

Boys), and Ben Miles (The Crown), cen­tres on army life in the sear­ing heat, glam­our and se­vere dan­ger of the Bri­tish colony dur­ing the swing­ing 60s. The Royal Mil­i­tary Po­lice of­fi­cers and their fam­i­lies con­front the daily threat of an ac­tive in­sur­gency against their heav­ily for­ti­fied com­pound. They must face the con­tin­ual peril posed by hand grenades, mines and sniper at­tacks. At the same time, the 60s are be­gin­ning to swing. It is an era of dawn­ing sex­ual lib­er­a­tion, red lip­stick, polka dot biki­nis, and new mu­sic. Ali­son (Raine), the wife of Lieu­tenant Ed Laith­waite (Camp­bell Moore), is stirred by the promise of th­ese chang­ing times. But this in­de­pen­dent-minded woman feels hemmed in by the re­pres­sive regime within the mil­i­tary com­pound. Raine, 35, who took the lead as Jen­nifer Lee in the first three sea­sons of Call The Mid­wife, starts by de­scrib­ing her char­ac­ter in The Last Post.

“Ali­son is witty, but she hums with dis­sat­is­fac­tion, and she’s on a path of self-de­struc­tion lit­tered with downed gin and ton­ics. I imag­ine her

“Ed never ever judges her and his ut­ter sup­port of her is one of the most touch­ing and sur­pris­ing things about their re­la­tion­ship.” – Jes­sica Raine (pic­tured with Stephen Camp­bell Moore) on her char­ac­ter’s mar­riage.

stalk­ing around her apart­ment, climb­ing the walls with bore­dom.

“She’s des­per­ate to have fun, but there’s not much of the type of fun she wants in the strict mil­i­tary en­vi­ron­ment.”

The ac­tress says that Ali­son is ad­vanced for her time, but that causes its own prob­lems.

“She’s very lib­er­ated in the way she thinks and acts.

“Every­thing about her is for­ward look­ing and she needs con­stant entertainment and stim­u­la­tion. To be quite lit­er­ally locked away in a com­pound on an army base is a very real hell for her. But she gamely tries to sur­vive it by throw­ing her­self into drink­ing and danc­ing at ev­ery op­por­tu­nity.”

But, Raine adds, de­spite Ali­son’s bad be­hav­iour, there is still clearly a strong bond be­tween her and her hus­band.

“They have grown ac­cus­tomed to the dis­con­nect be­tween them, and, of course, Ali­son clearly has a rep­u­ta­tion among Ed’s col­leagues.

“But Ed never ever judges her and his ut­ter sup­port of her is one of the most touch­ing and sur­pris­ing things about their re­la­tion­ship.

“I love how they are both rule-break­ers, ques­tion­ing and test­ing the fab­ric of army life.

“To­gether they are a very sub­ver­sive couple – I think per­fectly suited – and I am hope­ful for them.”

The ac­tress is look­ing for­ward to in­tro­duc­ing the viewers of The Last

Post to a world that may well be un­fa­mil­iar to them.

“Dur­ing my re­search, I stum­bled upon an in­ter­net fo­rum for peo­ple who were chil­dren in Aden in the 60s. Their words and im­ages of­fered a snapshot of fam­i­lies liv­ing an idyl­lic life, oc­ca­sion­ally shat­tered by the odd grenade be­ing lobbed over the wall, de­lib­er­ately tar­get­ing chil­dren and fam­i­lies.

“It was hard to get my head around liv­ing in that sit­u­a­tion. There is some­thing funny and dis­turb­ing about try­ing to main­tain Bri­tish val­ues un­der those con­di­tions, whilst blithely un­aware that they’re not wel­comed there.”

Raine un­der­scores just how top­i­cal The Last Post is.

“What drew me to this piece is the cen­tral ques­tion: what the hell is Great Bri­tain do­ing in Aden? The

Last Post raises all the crit­i­cal is­sues of a re­ced­ing em­pire: what we leave be­hind, the ar­ro­gance, the mess, and the grey ar­eas.

“The fact that there are no easy an­swers, no good guys and bad guys, make it a great drama. And, yes, a very timely one too.”

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