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The Hissing of Summer Lawns

Women's Institute Episode 1 of 3

Three-part documentary about the Women's Institute as it finds its way into the 21st century, revealing the lives of a formidable group of women who are holding communities together across Britain.

The Women's Institute movement started in Britain in 1915. One of its latest additions is a group in Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight, launched in 2006 and headed up by Amy. At 38 she is 20 years younger than the average WI member and is horrified by the stereotypical grey-haired image. She is determined to modernise the WI by 'pushing the boundaries' and adding a bit of 'stardust and glamour'.

Amy and her best friend Bunny (56) have corralled everyone they know into joining their new WI, which has quickly become the biggest group in the country. Amy's ladies meet in the Royal Solent Yacht Club and have invited a top divorce lawyer to talk at one of their monthly meetings, much to the disgust of some husbands. But Amy hasn't quite bargained for what it takes to implement change in an established organisation with 90 years of tradition.

This film follows her group’s determined attempts to establish a new generation of WI, from a very polite protest against excess packaging outside the local supermarket to an extravagant champagne-fuelled fundraiser, and offers a rare glimpse into a world of well-heeled women of a certain age.

1 hour

Last on

Tue 26 Jul 2011 23:00


Role Contributor
NarratorMichael Pennington
DirectorShona Thompson
ProducerShona Thompson
Executive ProducerKatie Bailiff
Executive ProducerRuth Pitt
Executive ProducerRichard Klein