Danger and glamour!
Jessica Raine goes back to the 1960s to play a military wife in the Middle EastÉ
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Sunday, 9.00pm BBC1 Drama
n the mid-1960s, the British Army were struggling to keep order in the Yemeni port of Aden, one of the last remaining colonies in the diminishing British Empire.
The constant danger facing the army in the region at the time is now recalled in a powerful BBC1 drama centred on a Royal Military Police unit in Aden in 1965.
The series sees the soldiers under threat from local insurgents, while their personal lives are explored through the eyes of the officers’ wives, including Alison Laithwaite, the glamorous but unhappy wife of Lieutenant Ed Laithwaite.
Alison, played by Jessica Raine, causes ructions with her party lifestyle – and the fact she’s having a secret affair with one of the other officers.
‘She’s witty, but dissatisfied, and on a path of self-destruction,’ explains former
Call the Midwife star Jessica.
‘Alison’s very liberated and to be locked away on an army base is hell for her. She gamely tries to survive by drinking and dancing.’
While forward-thinking Ed (Stephen Campbell Moore) frequently clashes with his commanding officer, Major Harry Markham (Ben Miles), Alison’s behaviour is casting a further shadow over his career. Can the couple stay together?
‘Alison has a reputation, but Ed never judges her and his support is touching and surprising,’ says Jessica. ‘Together they are a subversive couple who test and question the fabric of army life.’ Much to Jessica’s pleasure, the drama was shot in South Africa.
‘Filming in Cape Town while it was winter in England was a real treat,’ she smiles. ‘The heat, especially in the desert, was a challenge, but the landscape is phenomenal.’
Party girl… Alison’s lifestyle threatens to harm Ed’s career
Clashes… Unit commander Harry Markham