Samantha Bond talks second series of Home Fires
After an extremely successful first series, the ladies of Great Paxford are back and the German army is looming. It’s the summer of 1940 and after the defeat at Dunkirk, Britain is preparing itself for an invasion.
The Chesire ladies, led by Frances Barden, have their own worries with loved ones lost at war and family secrets finding their way into the open. United, the women are strong and work together to maintain a feisty British spirit.
Samantha Bond takes on the dominant role of Frances. Having ousted Joyce as leader of the Great Paxford WI, the organisation is now thriving under her reign. At home everything seems to be perfect – Frances’ marriage to Peter a stable one of equals – but the second series may see Frances discover that her perfect life isn’t quite what she thought.
The first series of Home Fires attracted an average audience of 6.2 million viewers. How did the cast feel about that success?
We’d had such an absolutely glorious time making it and we just kept praying that sort of enthusiasm and love for these women would somehow translate into people’s living rooms. We were over the moon so many people liked Home Fires and thrilled to get a second series. I think what appealed to everyone is an entire village of vibrant and different women all with their own stories. In series one you had to get to know all of us. And there’s a lot of us. Now that you do know us, series two really does hit the ground running.
How would you say the series has evolved and developed?
Knowing who everyone is becomes a very important shorthand. For example, the moment you see Pat (Claire Rushbrook), you know exactly her story so far. I think the nation took Pat to their hearts. What our writer Simon Block has done so cleverly is take a situation and twist it in such an unexpected way. When we did the script read-through for episodes one to three in this second series there were so many gasps. And laughter. Then we got to the end of episode three and half the table was in tears. A lot of it is an emotional rollercoaster for many of the women.
It’s June 1940 when we return to Great Paxford. How have things changed?
The fear of invasion is now very real. There is no panic. But the English Channel is just 21 miles across. That’s nothing for a fleet of German boats. The aeroplanes fly over the village on a regular basis. You feel the terror felt by the community and it really pulls at the heart.
The other big thing that has made the war very immediate for the village is the arrival of Czech soldiers, based nearby having fought their way across Europe, which really brings the war home. It’s there on your doorstep. People need looking acer, feeding and comfort.
Does the WI still feature in this series?
It does but it’s less prominent in series two. In series one the WI was a means to get to know everyone. It showed you friendships and support networks, all of which are still there.
What would you say about the issues Home Fires has to say to an audience?
It’s a great advert for community and helping each other. I think that’s its big appeal. I truly do. It’s that sense of community and looking out for one another that we’ve very much lost nowadays, particularly in the bigger cities and towns. I do think there is a huge longing for that.
What has it been like reuniting with the cast?
It was absolutely glorious. I’m afraid we are appallingly happy and we relish each other’s company on set and off. I can’t remember ever having been in a company so happy and so funny and so full of love. All immensely supportive of one another. I adore them. And our men. All brilliantly written by a man. Simon Block has done a fantastic job.”
How would you sum up Frances’s journey in this series?
She goes through a mangle, really. The whole series, for her, is an emotional rollercoaster. At the beginning of episode one she could never have imagined the emotions that would be called on.
Home Fires starts tonight on ITV at 9pm.