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.
star takes leading role in a new period drama.
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.”