Interview: ‘Our Girl’ writer Tony Grounds chats about BBC One’s army drama

Written by Tony Grounds, army drama Our Girl stars EastEnders actress Lacey Turner as East London girl Molly Dawes, now a soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps.

The new five-part season follows last year’s one-off single drama and is currently airing at 9pm on Sunday nights on BBC One.

> Order Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.

Here Tony chats about Molly’s romance, the cast’s camaraderie and what he hopes audiences will get from the show…

 

What was your ambition for the series?

“I wanted to write a drama about what it was like being a foot soldier in Afghanistan and looking at the issues from their point of view. There’s a big chain of command in the army so I thought it would be really interesting to write about the war from the perspective of a new recruit, such as a Private like Molly, especially when prior to her army training she wouldn’t have even known where it is, let alone how to spell it!

“With last year’s single, Molly was going through her basic training so there was a quite a linear path for us to follow. However the series, and Molly’s deployment to Afghanistan as a medic, opens up much more potential to explore the issues of what happens to soldiers out there.”

 

Our Girl Ben Aldridge

 

What changes will we see in Molly across the season?

“We saw Molly go through quite a dramatic change in the single but this time we’ll see how the deployment really makes her grow up. She’s never been abroad before so doesn’t know what to expect.

“We experience her discovering Afghanistan and, no matter what preconceptions we might have from the news reports, suddenly we’re seeing it through Molly’s eyes and she sees it as the most beautiful country imaginable. But like anyone who’s been involved in a war, the experience changes Molly forever.

“Her comrades in Two Section become as important as family to her and not least because they’re the only ones who can understand what her new life is like. There’s something written indelibly across her soul which says Afghanistan and her comrades.”

 

Is there romance on the horizon for Molly?

“Molly falls madly in love with Captain James who heads up Two Section. She’s besotted with this whole new world which is represented by him and certainly never thought that someone like him would ever look at her. Molly sees that James is a whole different level to the boyfriends she’s had before, including the likes of someone such as Smurf who has also fallen in love with her.

“But of course it’s a massive taboo for all of them because you’re not allowed to have a relationship with anybody in your platoon and especially not your Officer. It’s something you’d be drummed out of the army for so they’re all aware that it could lead to serious trouble.”

 

Our Girl Series 1

 

There’s a strong camaraderie among the platoon in the script. Did this translate among the cast in real life?

“They honestly became like a real section. They were thrown together for six months, not having met before, and, as with the army, what happens in that six months could change their lives.

“They went through a short but intense period of training to get their heads into army life, and had to retain that focus throughout the shoot. They had to get on, bond and work together so that they became like a real platoon. We tried to utilise their youthful energy and it definitely worked to our advantage.”

 

What do you hope viewers will take away from the new season?

“You just want them to understand what it must be like going out there as a young person, to feel what Molly must feel like to be suddenly thrown into this bewildering new world. It’s more than just joining the army.

“You want the audience to sympathise with the soldiers but also love Afghanistan as well with a bit of hope and a way forward. But it’s a love story too so you put them through the ringer!”

 

> Order Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.

Watch the trailer…

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