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DVD Review

DVD cover

Home Fires


Starring: Gerard Parkes, Sheila Moore and Kim Yaroshevskaya
Distributor: ITV Studios Global Entertainment
RRP: £19.99
Certificate: 12
Release Date: 15 June 2015

The commencement of World War Two would see great social and personal changes sweep across the nation. Women liberated from the kitchen to build bombers and tanks would never return to their subservient station. Across the land the war left no home or relationship untouched...

Home Fires (2015. 6 eps. 273 min) was the surprising hit period drama from ITV. The show was created by Simon Block as an adaptation of the book Jambusters, written by Julie Summers.

What make the show different to many other period shows is that it is fundamentally told from the womens point of view. The show revolves around the Great Paxton Women’s Institute, a microcosm of pre-war social stratification. Francesca Annis plays the lordly Joyce Cameron who runs the institute as her own personal posh club. In this, she clashes with the more down to earth Francis (Samantha Bond) and their personal feud mirrors the on-going social changes.

The story opens in 1939, where war is on the horizon and an air of apprehension is gripping a small Cheshire village. Although the Women’s Institute runs like a thread through the story, the show is much deeper than this. The multi-threaded tale follows a number of the women, from all walks of life and personal circumstances.

We have a doctor who, recently diagnosed with lung cancer, is not fit for service and tangentially takes out his fears and frustrations on his wife. In another home a young man want to go to war, but his father, who had served in the First World War tries to stop him making the same mistakes he did. In other parts of the village women suffer under the controlling influence of their husbands. All over, relationships are being lost and formed, all against the backdrop of war.

Overall this was an engaging slow burner drama, universally well-acted, although the clipped accents may sound a little strange to a modern ear, they combined with the sets and costumes to create a full picture of the era.

The episodes are presented across two DVDs and, apart for the option for subtitles, the set contains no extras.


Charles Packer

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