Love in a hot cli­mate

New BBC drama The Last Post cov­ers a pe­riod of mil­i­tary his­tory many view­ers won’t know much about: Ye­men in the Sixties. GE­OR­GIA HUMPHREYS speaks to the show’s stel­lar cast about the is­sues raised


GROW­ING up in dan­ger-filled Aden, Ye­men in the swing­ing Sixties with a fa­ther in the Royal Mil­i­tary Po­lice – that sounds like a pretty mem­o­rable child­hood, right?

So it’s no sur­prise that Peter Mof­fat de­cided to write new BBC1 drama The Last Post based on the ex­pe­ri­ences of his youth.

The six-part se­ries, which has a stel­lar cast in­clud­ing Call The Mid­wife’s Jes­sica Raine, cen­tres on a unit of of­fi­cers and their fam­i­lies based far away from home in the mid-Sixties, with the con­stant threat of hand grenades, mines and sniper at­tacks.

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

So what can view­ers ex­pect to see hap­pen as the in­sur­gency takes a real hold in Ye­men? The show’s stars tell us more...


“THE Last Post raises all the crit­i­cal is­sues of a re­ced­ing em­pire: what we leave behind, the ar­ro­gance, the mess, and the grey ar­eas,” Jes­sica, 35, con­tin­ues. “The fact that there are no easy answers – no good guys and bad guys – makes it a great drama.”

And while some may ar­gue a TV se­ries about love and war is a path well-trod­den, for The Crown’s Ben Miles, who plays Ma­jor Harry Markham, the fo­cus on mil­i­tary po­lice­men gives the show a whole other layer of drama.

“It’s a story about how you main­tain stan­dards of be­hav­iour within the army, which is a very press­ing thing,” the actor ex­plains.

“We re­cently heard about this po­ten­tial neo-Nazi move­ment in the Bri­tish army in the UK, and, you know, be­hav­iour in Iraq over the years, in­ter­ro­ga­tion of prisoners, all those cases that were brought against sol­diers... it’s very much that, this unit is trying to main­tain law and or­der within the army.”

Ben adds: “The fact that Peter was out there as a child gave the whole piece an au­then­tic­ity and an emo­tional en­gine that was re­ally pow­er­ful and at­trac­tive.”


AS THE ca­su­al­ties mount in Aden, one of the ques­tions at the centre of the show becomes more press­ing – is it right that the Bri­tish Army is there? These sort of themes, the cast mem­bers say, are rel­e­vant to­day. “It’s very dif­fi­cult, isn’t it, mak­ing these judg­ments as to whether we should go into a country and sort things out, and leave a country in an even big­ger mess, you know?”, sug­gests Amanda Drew, who plays Mary Markham. “So clearly, it has ma­jor res­o­nances with lots of places.” “There are lots of is­sues that come up in the show... the role of the army in Ye­men, the way the Bri­tish Army treats in­sur­gents and han­dles prisoners,” agrees 50-year-old Ben.

He con­tin­ues: “There are so many par­al­lels in this story to what’s going on glob­ally now, and par­tic­u­larly in the Mid­dle East.

“You sort of see this show and you read the scripts and you think, well, not much has changed in 50 years.”

Jessie Buck­ley, the 27-year-old star of War and Peace, plays Honor Martin, and con­curs about the script’s time­li­ness.

“When you look at what’s going on in Syria, Iraq and around the world, the sheer brav­ery that peo­ple have to have, day in and day out, and still hold on to their normal lives and find hope is in­cred­i­bly rel­e­vant,” she says.


ONE of the ma­jor themes of the drama is in­spired by Peter seeing his mother strug­gle be­tween be­ing what the army re­quired her to be and what she felt like be­ing. And Amanda’s char­ac­ter Mary faces sim­i­lar chal­lenges in her role as the of­fi­cer’s wife.

“I think she was very con­sci­en­tious in mak­ing sure that the home is this sanc­tu­ary and haven from what has to go on in the men’s world,” says 47-year-old Amanda, prob­a­bly most recog­nis­able for her role as May Wright in BBC soap EastEn­ders.

“Within the story she’s re­ally chal­lenged as to whether to fol­low that obe­di­ence and serv­ing her hus­band above her own thoughts and needs.”

What about the other wives in the show – do they face strug­gles too?

“She’s very lib­er­ated in the way

New­ly­weds Jessie Buck­ley as Honor and Jeremy Neu­mark Jones as Joe, strug­gle to find their place in the mil­i­tary life

Jes­sica Raine as Alison Laith­waite

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.