Set in Northern Ireland during World War Two, BBC One’s My Mother And Other Strangers is created and written by Barry Devlin (Darling Buds of May, Ballykissangel).
The five-part drama series follows the fortunes of a rural family, the Coynes, after a huge USAAF airfield with 4,000 service men and women – complete with a handsome and charming liaison officer, Captain Dreyfuss – lands smack-dab in the middle of their parish in 1943.
Rose is played by Hattie Morahan, Michael by Owen McDonnell, Captain Dreyfuss by Aaron Staton, Emma by Eileen O’Higgins and Ned by Des McAleer.
Episode 1: ‘Golden Gloves’
Sunday 13 November 2016, 9pm
English born and bred Rose Coyne met her husband Michael, in England and followed him home to the rural community of Moybeg, Northern Ireland where they now live with their three children, Emma, Francis and Kate.
Rose closes up the school for the local potato-picking holidays and heads to the store run by Michael, where Ned Hanlon, his sons and some other locals wait to buy their meagre wartime rations. Ned is a tough old man and a staunch republican, and there is no love lost between him and Rose. His son Davey lets slip that Michael has an illegal supply of corned beef, of which Rose knows nothing.
Ten year-old Francis and his best friend Seamie take delight in watching the B17s land and take off from the American Air Base which has been built slap-dab in the middle of their parish. Seamie tries to drag Francis to the air base dump with the promise of untold treasures, leaving Francis torn, as he has been forbidden by his mother to go.
On her usual walk to her favourite spot by the lough, a chance meeting with a mysterious American has a huge impact on Rose. He’s Captain Dreyfuss, recently assigned to the airbase in the role of ensuring the local and the airmen coexist peacefully, and he asks for Rose’s help.
Meanwhile, Rose and Michael’s 16 year-old daughter Emma has a chance encounter of her own with a handsome young airman, Lieutenant Barnhill. Defying her father, Emma goes to the cinema with Barnhill – but it’s not just Michael who’s furious when he sees them return. Fed up with the Americans stealing their girls, the Hanlons and some of the locals attack Barnhill as retribution.
As a result of the attack, Dreyfuss brings news that the pub has been placed out of bounds to the airmen. He also brings news that Barnhill is leaving for combat and gives Rose a letter from Barnhill to Emma. As she struggles with her own growing, forbidden attraction to Dreyfuss, what will Rose decide to do with the letter?
Episode 2: ‘Stolen Waters’
Sunday 20 November 2016, 9pm
On a late October morning Francis and Seamie persuade the Hanlons to let them join a fishing trip, unaware that the men are poaching eels.
But on the way back to shore at the end of the day, a chase unfolds between the Hanlons and the Bailiffs, who find the evidence they need to take the men to court.
Dreyfuss gives Rose a book called Stolen Waters, to help with their quest to understand the local community. When she tells Michael about the book, his reaction makes Rose suspect he’s aware of her attraction to Dreyfuss – but instead, he asks for Rose’s help in persuading the air base to lift the ban on the pub. Using the guise of community liaison duties, Rose makes the request to Dreyfuss, but later that day, when she tries to transfer her longing for Dreyfuss to her husband, Michael’s too busy to be there for her.
In court, Davey gives an unconvincing display stating that Prince and his men are lying under oath. All looks lost until Rose makes a stand, and, empowered by her reading of Stolen Waters, addresses the court to a rapturous scene.
However, Michael, is angry and mortified: he can’t understand why his wife would embarrass him by helping men she doesn’t even like – unknowingly pushing her closer to Dreyfuss.
Episode 3: ‘The Price’
Sunday 27 November 2016, 9pm
The Marsden’s Big Variety Playhouse descends upon Moybeg for Halloween, but the following day the joy is broken by news that a local child, Maisie Quinn, has been taken ill with scarlet fever.
Dr Black informs Rose that Maisie is to be quarantined. When Rose questions whether Dr Black will monitor poor Maisie’s condition, he concedes that he will do what he can but he has patients who also depend on him and pay their fees.
As Maisie deteriorates, Rose turns to Captain Dreyfuss for help with medical support from the base. Dreyfuss, supportive of the idea, sends Lieutenant Tillie Ziegler – who swiftly arranges for Maisie to be transferred to hospital. As the ambulance drives off, Rose is greeted by a cigarette smuggler who asks for Michael. Rose curtly sends him away and takes the Coyne’s Pub and Store firmly off the profiteers map, much to Michael’s exasperation.
During a frosty dinner time Rose tries to shame Michael into telling the children about his blackmarket actions, but Michael stands firm and pulls Rose aside to enlighten her that he’s actually trying to keep them afloat before leaving to attend his empty bar. Rose, battling her attraction to Dreyfuss and anger at Michael, asks Dreyfuss into their house for tea. The conversation soon turns from Maisie to Rose’s domestic troubles and her emotions come to the surface. But events take a further turn for the worse when Kate also falls sick with the disease, leaving Rose to question with Michael if they’re paying the price for his recent actions.
Episode 4: ‘Vera’
Sunday 4 December 2016, 9pm
Rose’s sister Vera arrives in Moybeg for her annual visit, much to the delight of Emma, Francis and Kate.
Michael looks on wearily as Vera fills Emma’s head with talk of boys, and offers, with a wink, to help in the pub later on. The next day, as Rose and Vera walk through the parish, Captain Dreyfuss pulls up in his jeep to ask for Rose’s help with a project – a Christmas party for the children on the base. Vera is blown away by this handsome Captain. That evening Vera sashays into the bar looking spectacular.
Davey, Ned and the American pilots are mesmerised and request a song but as the atmosphere gets a little too raucous Michael asks Vera to go home. The following morning, Rose tends to a hungover Vera and learns that her sister is attracted to Dreyfuss. Vera takes the opportunity to flirt with Dreyfuss and invites him to lunch – much to Vera’s delight.
Dreyfuss accepts but asks if he can bring another office. Rose, having a rare drink, opens up to Vera about her longing for Dreyfuss, despite being happily married. She asks Vera to spare Dreyfuss so that she can hold on to her dream. As Rose nervously sets the table Vera opens the door to Captain Dreyfuss and Lieutenant Tillie Zeigler.
Vera is shocked by the beautiful nurse but recovers well. Rose on the other hand is completely gobsmacked. Vera and Tillie discuss Michael at lunch and Dreyfuss realises he’s made a mistake inviting Tillie.
Episode 5: ‘God Rest You Merry…’
Sunday 11 December 2016, 9pm
Early morning, by the Far Rock, Rose is preoccupied by Dreyfuss’ absence. She returns home frozen, and Sally worries that the mistress is not quite herself. Rose packs the children off to school with the promise of a surprise.
Rose and Mr Corey break the news to the children about the Christmas party at the aerodrome. They are wild with excitement, but the party creates waves amongst the community as Ned Hanlon wants to know why they’re not invited.
Rose finally hears the familiar sound of Dreyfuss’ jeep, and braces herself. But on seeing him for the first time in three weeks, her heartache takes over and she rejects him coldly. She has had to deal with Nurse Zeigler, why would she make time for him now?
Meanwhile Michael receives some bad news: his cousin, Vincent, wants Michael to buy back the licence to the pub which is currently held in Vincent’s name. Michael finds the courage to tell Rose about the pub. She holds him and tries to ease his worries, but she is troubled by the idea of him being betrayed by someone he trusts.
The children are cut loose at the Christmas party, where the air hanger has been turned into a magical wonderland. Amid the excitement, Rose discovers the real reason for Dreyfuss’ disappearance, leaving her more torn than ever.
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