‘Our Girl’ Season 1 Episode 1 review

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Following on from last year’s one-off TV movie, Our Girl is back on BBC One for a new five-part season with EastEnders star Lacey Turner returning as troubled teen-turned-soldier Molly Dawes.

Episode 1 deals with Molly, now an Army medic, being drafted out on her first tour of Afghanistan, and how she copes with the struggles of missing home, her own self-doubt in her new role, and being thrown together with strangers who she is forced to trust in the middle of a war zone.

There’s a lot to like here and that is mainly from Turner’s lovely performance as the maturing Molly. A gifted, emotive actress, Turner excels best when her character is put in situations she is unprepared for, which happens a lot in this opening episode. This is particularly evident in the shooting sequence where Molly breaks down under enemy fire and the early scene in the hospital, where Molly freezes seeing an injured soldier in a traumatic physical state.

I was concerned that Turner, who had recently returned to EastEnders prior to shooting Our Girl, was going to bring a little too much ‘Stacey Slater’ to the role, but Turner shows how seasoned she has become as an actress, adjusting well with the brash, blokey humour of her new surroundings. This is also strongly evident in the scenes ‘in the field’ or when facing off with her colleague, Smurf (Iwan Rheon).

Rheon’s performance is also strong here, with the Game of Thrones actor creating a character vastly different to the socially introverted Simon of Misfits or the outwardly comic Ash in ITV1’s Vicious. Played with a clear defensiveness towards the Taliban, he runs the risk of being prejudiced but Rheon provides enough humility to still make him likeable.

Our Girl Series 1

He and Ben Aldridge (Toast, Lark Rise To Candleford) offer a stark contrast to Molly, who still remains trusting, hopeful and less by the book than her more established colleagues, which only further establishes her ‘fish out of water’ status.

Director Anthony Philipson (My Mad Fat Diary, Youngers) does a brilliant job here too, highlighting the differences between Molly’s home life and Army life with sharp changes in aesthetic and tone.

The South Africa shooting location, doubling for Afghanistan, is used to great effect, allowing for beauty in amongst the chaos and using the sprawling scenery and aerial camerawork to further highlight the characters isolation. This smooth pace then makes us sit up and take notice during the episode’s more active sequences, which are jarringly edited, claustrophobically filmed and full of noise.

Our Girl Series 1

With a relatable script, earnest performances and a topical setting, this first episode sets the mantle for what’s to come this season, while still retaining the flavour and message of last year’s introduction; a character-led piece examining all that happens to us when we leave what we know to make ourselves better people, and struggle with that decision.


Aired at 9pm on Sunday 21 September 2014 on BBC One.

> Order Season 1 on DVD on Amazon.

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