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Sometimes Into the Arms of God

Episode 1 of 3

4 Extra Debut. As WWII rages, an injured soldier strives to save West Wycombe Park for the National Trust. Starring Tobias Menzies.

by Christopher William Hill

Once described as 'the man who saved England', James Lees-Milne's work for the National Trust in the 1930s and 40s was instrumental in securing innumerable architectural gems for the nation. His waspish and witty diaries, which have inspired these three linked plays, chart the decline and fall of the English country house.

It's 1942 and Lees-Milne is billeted with the National Trust at West Wycombe Park - a world away from Blitz-ridden London. Lees-Milne is a rising star of the Trust. Invalided out of the army, he's looking for his own battles to fight and is determined to save the house and preserve it for the nation. But times are hard and the Trust is reliant on a considerable endowment before they can acquire a property - an endowment which the incumbent inhabitants, Johnnie and Helen Dashwood, can ill-afford to pay. Helen is an imperious host, but is desperate for paying guests - so when Nancy Mitford comes to stay, she's welcomed with open arms. Lees-Milne is delighted for the distraction, but it's difficult for guests to throw themselves into the house party spirit in sub-zero conditions. Fortunately, Nancy is obsessed with the Antarctic explorers and Captain Scott, even nicknaming the upstairs lavatory 'The Beardmore' (after the glacier of the same name), much to Helen's chagrin. But it's a brittle peace, as cloistered together, all the guests attempt to block out the war for as long as possible.

Produced & directed by Marion Nancarrow

The three plays star Tobias Menzies (Rome; Game of Thrones ) as James Lees-Milne and Victoria Hamilton (Lark Rise to Candleford; Doctor Foster) as the novelist Nancy Mitford and chart four years during the war when Lees-Milne was at his most industrious, trying to save properties for the National Trust. In this first play, Samuel Barnett (The History Boys; Twenty Twelve) makes a guest appearance as Cecil Beaton.

45 minutes

Last on

Mon 18 Jun 2018 21:15

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Role Contributor
James Lees-Milne Tobias Menzies
Nancy Mitford Victoria Hamilton
Eddy Sackville-West David Seddon
Cecil Beaton Samuel Barnett
Helen Dashwood Joanna Brookes
Miss Paterson Joanna Brookes
Johnnie Dashwood Sean Murray
Haines Ben Crowe
Director Marion Nancarrow
Producer Marion Nancarrow
Writer Christopher William Hill