As the summer and the centenary of the outbreak of the Great War draw closer so too does the beginning of the Radio 4’s landmark new drama series Home Front.

    A specially commissioned original drama, Home Front will form the spine of Radio 4’s World War 1 offer over the next four years. Unprecedented in scale, there will be 500 episodes between now and 2018, each around 12 minutes long.

    Since the Radio 4 blog last followed Home Front, a first series - which will run from the fourth of August to the third of October has been written and recorded. Set in Folkestone it will follow a number of characters and families, for whom war will mean very different things.

    Here is an introduction to just a few of them.

    Kitty Wilson

    Kitty Wilson is a bright, confident Kent girl. Eighteen years old in August 1914, she’s part of a happy family, with a steady job as a domestic, and a loving, handsome boyfriend, Dieter, who works as a waiter in a posh hotel. Unfortunately Dieter is from Germany. As Folkestone’s harbour fills with Germans rushing home to enlist, and restrictions are placed on enemy aliens, Kitty realises their chances of a future together are disappearing.  

     

    Ami Metcalf plays Kitty Wilson

     

    Sam Wilson and Jimmy Macknade

    Kitty’s youngest brother Sam and his school friend Jimmy, both eight years old, are inseparable, much to the despair of their families. The Wilsons, provided for by dad Albert, a railway signal man, and mum, Florrie, a laundress, see themselves as the respectable working class. They see Jimmy’s family, the Macknades, penniless, hungry, terrorised by their feckless, jobless, hard-drinking dad, Bill, as the opposite. Bill and his wife Alice don’t think a lot of the Wilsons either. But Sam and Jimmy don’t care. There are more important things in life, like aniseed balls and lemon drops, and borrowing a St Bernard so they can enter a dog show. War is exciting; soldiers in uniform with guns are marching around. If only they were big and old enough to fight the Germans themselves.

     

    Alfie Lowles as Jimmy Macknade and Alexander Aze as Sam Wilson

     

    The Grahams

    Respectable and well-to-do, the Grahams are one of the leading families in Folkestone. Councillor Gabriel Graham is a man of status, serving on Folkestone Town Council. He enjoys red meat, red wine and red-blooded English pursuits such as cricket. His wife Sylvia comes from an impeccable aristocratic bloodline in Northumberland. Commanding and committed to public life, she has just as much authority and status among the ladies of Folkestone as Gabriel does among the gentlemen. They love all their children, even the unmarried and probably unmarriageable Isabel but reserve particular pride for their only son Freddie. Isabel, pious, intelligent and ladylike, serves a valuable role in community as Sunday School teacher in the parish church, though she sometimes yearns for something more. A cheerful, vigorous product of the ‘muscular Christian’ English public school system, Freddie is a cavalry officer in the Hussars, soon to leave for France. While Freddie will be tested at the front, the rest of his family face the challenges of leading a community in uncertain times, as Folkestone’s tourist trade is shaken by the war and the town becomes a home for thousands of Belgian refugees.  

    The Grahams: Michael Bertenshaw as Gabriel, Keely Beresford as Isabel, Freddie Fox as Freddie and Deborah Findlay as Sylvia.

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    • Comment number 1. Posted by Charlie

      on 29 May 2014 14:03

      With over 100 years of hindsight and retrospective opportunities the BBC and others are currently embarked on a grand self congratulatory historical opportunity have totally failed to apply any reasoned competence to the realities of, or intelligent comprehension of the causes and implications of WW1.

      The BBC and Breakfast is treating World War 1 only as an epic opportunity to commission and engage in the promotion of lavish historical fictional dramatizations, pseudo educational promotional activities and road shows all of which are condoning war and presenting indiscriminate killing and causing death as a reasonable way of conducting international relationships.

      The BBC and others have and are doing a great dis-service to and displaying contemptuous treatment of the realities of war and its participants .
      Dismissing those individuals and organisations who warned of the coming conflict or who went on to conscientiously object to its massive inhumanity, as being of no interest, one cannot help but draw the conclusion that, the BBC and its staff are deliberately equating all talk of WW1 with so called, ‘glorious sacrifice’ and adherence to insane duty, in deferential obedience to the ruling classes who made vast fortunes out of government largesse in an orgy of industrial slaughter.

      Why aren’t Stephanie McGovern or Naga Munchetty who claim business and finance responsibilities, researching the business interests that profited from the war, even if they did not actively promote it? Who were the landowning and farming interests that stood to and made £ billions from the war, did they not endorse, encourage and direct it?

      Why are presenters, Bill Turnbull, Sian Williams, Susanna Reid, Charlie Stayt, Louise Minchin their editors, reporters and commentators not recoiling at the horror of war, displaying a cowardice in direct opposition to that required of their chosen subjects. That they conspire to refuse to present pictorial footage of the realities of torn, disembowelled, dismembered or burnt and beheaded bodies, only to provide promotional material for the continued acceptance of war as reasonable behaviour.

      Why aren’t commentators contemplating biblical commandments that clearly state “Thou shalt not KILL”, the passages from Exodus stating: “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him:” or this, that: “Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger:”
      Did not Jesus say that one should: “Love thy neighbour as thyself”?
      Is BBC policy now one of contempt for Christian religious beliefs? or are we supposed to put up with a daily broadcast of hypocrisy from you?
      Why aren’t female staff (who should be ashamed of themselves), even Women’s Hour, interested in the likes of the International Congress of Women, International Socialist Women’s Conferences, The Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom, all of whom foretold, warned against and campaigned against the War. Is the condoning and placid acceptance of men’s or any war a true reflection of women’s liberation in the 21st Century?

      Where is any of the BBC’s reputed interest in fair, honest and balanced broadcasting?

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