Last Night’s TV – Land Girls: Childhood’s End

by Lynn Connolly

Land Girls

I’m not entirely sure why this show has been given a teatime slot, appearing as it did on BBC1 at 5:15pm. Is it aimed at enlightening kids about the homefront wartime effort? Is it aimed at the multitude of us women who’re trying to create something edible for hoards of hungry family members?

I really don’t know the answer to that, but I do think Land Girls would’ve been better placed on, say, a Sunday night.

However, that aside, the first of this new series last night – further episodes are to run every night this week – was unfortunately rather predictable. There were lots of clichés in the character formation and in what they all had to say, but there again, as I’ve mentioned in my reviews before, clichés become so because they happen so often. So, I guess we’ll have to take on faith that the class divides and all the clichés that go with them did in fact apply to wartime, given that almost everything with the words Land and Girls in the title run along the same lines.

And in fact, like many versions of other dramas featuring Land Girls, the storylines are strikingly similar, and only the faces change.

There’s always the upper-class girl who has no clue what hard work is, and there’s always a flirty, flighty sort who’ll do pretty much anything for a pair of stockings. Likewise there’s always a studious, bookish girl, a naïve girl and a girl who falls prey to those wicked GI’s who were overpaid, oversexed and over here.

That said, I love any drama that’s to do with the war and I’m especially fond of anything about Land Girls as my mother was one. It’s always quite difficult to imagine one’s parents before they became your parents, so dramas like this give the offspring of a Land Girl and a soldier – me – the chance to perhaps go back in time and see what my respectable mum and dad might’ve got up to during the war.

And the very believable cast did a sterling job of portraying the girls; Summer Strallen as the snobby Nancy was a treat to watch, as was Becci Gemmell who played Joyce. An especially touching scene was when Nancy and Joyce couldn’t stop giggling in the what-if aftermath of having been shot at by an enemy plane. Not something one might think was a laughing matter but it’s also quite easy to see how fear followed by immense relief might invoke such a scene.

The character of Bea, played by Jo Woodcock stood out as an especially rounded character while Nathaniel Parker and Sophie Ward carried off the roles of Lord and Lady Hoxley with panache. And it’s always a treat to see Mark Benton, no matter what he’s doing.

There were interesting moral subtexts too, such as how the black GIs were treated mostly contemptuously by their white superior officers and how Annie was protecting her little sister Bea from horrors at home.

But did Land Girls appeal to the demographic who would’ve, in the past, tuned in to Neighbours at that time? Time and viewer ratings figures will tell, but I’ll certainly be watching again, whereas I haven’t watched Neighbours since the ‘90s, so Aunty Beeb has a new viewer for that timeslot in me at any rate. Let us know what you thought of Land Girls.

Lynn is an editor and writer here at Unreality TV and is trained psychotherapist and the author of two books. She's addicted to soaps, period drama and reality TV shows such as X Factor, I'm A Celeb and Big Brother.