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Wednesday 29 Oct 2014

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Land Girls: Becci Gemmell is Joyce

Becci Gemmell in Land Girls

Becci Gemmell (Home Time) plays straightforward and patriotic land girl Joyce, who tries her best to serve her country and do her bit to help win the war.

Hailing from Coventry, Joyce worked as a hairdresser. On a visit to see her husband John in Birmingham, whilst he was on three days leave, she missed the German bombing raid that flattened most of Coventry.

Her parents were killed, and her house and possessions were destroyed. Haunted by the loss of her parents, she is upset when John is then posted abroad.

She joins the WLA as a distraction to stop her worrying about her husband. And her loss motivates her faith in the war effort – she's got to have something to make the death of her parents bearable and create some meaning from the chaos.

On the surface, Joyce is sunny and optimistic, but – like the war rhetoric she spouts – it's all a way of coping with the inner pain. She's genuinely the most caring of the girls as she knows the true meaning of loss.

Becci went to the British Library to read diaries of the land girls to find out more about them and what they did during the war, and was surprised to discover that thousands of women were conscripted and had no choice.

"I thought it was a kind of 'well done British women for getting up and helping', and I didn't realise that it was an army. I thought it was called the land army because of the size and the nature of it, not that it was actually an army which, when you look at all the uniforms, it makes sense."

She also met a former land girl: "She worked in Leicestershire where I'm from. I thought she would give me lots of inside knowledge but, because the drama is so well written, the reality of it is actually very similar. She says the mundanity of doing the same thing every day meant that whenever anything slightly different happened it became very exciting, as happens for Joyce in one episode.

"Even something as simple as moving some eggs was very interesting for the girls because it was different."

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