Swags – Military Wives drama coming to ITV

by Lisa McGarry

ITV has commissioned a new six part drama series about the battles fought on the home front by the wives and girlfriends of soldiers serving in war torn Afghanistan.

Entitled SWAGS – which to the initiated stands for “Service Wives And Girlfriends” – the series is produced by the ITV Studios drama team based in Manchester overseen by Creative Director Kieran Roberts who will also executive produce the drama. It will be produced by former Coronation Street producer Kim Crowther.

The drama focuses on four real and remarkable women – Debbie, Gemma, Louise and Claire – who live in Army quarters in the garrison town of Leysham. Life is far from easy for the women but the tone of the drama is upbeat with an ever present streetwise sense of humour. These women deal with fixing the boiler, filling the fridge and getting the kids off to school at the same time as coping with infidelity, insecurity, bereavement and bureaucracy.

Debbie is happy to see her husband, Howard, start a new life away from the Army just as her precious younger son Matt is heading to Helmand Province to serve alongside his big brother Tom. She has sleepless nights about her two boys, fearing the worst.

Gemma is Debbie’s daughter in law and married to Matt. Gemma enjoys playing house in her newly acquired living quarters. She is optimistic about their future, after a troubled upbringing of her own, and is determined to prove herself as a brilliant wife and good mother to toddler son Alfie.

Louise was an Army nurse so she knows the high-octane world from both sides. She met her husband Joe during a particularly gruelling six month tour of Afghanistan. She stayed in the Army after they married, but didn’t return to her duties after maternity leave. Louise may be married to a soldier but she tends to avoid the women who define themselves by their husband’s rank and reputation. Louise hates having to be both parents to their young children, Hannah and Grace but hopes it won’t always be like this.

Claire signed up for a dating website three years after her amicable divorce. She wasn’t looking for a man in uniform, but that’s what she got in Pete. He’s an Officer, so Claire must not only adjust to giving up her own career and relocating to be with him, but deal with the challenges of being a Captain’s wife and the demands of being a step-mother to Pete’s wayward 15 year old daughter Millie, too. Millie firmly resents Claire and her teenage son Sam 13 who’s moved in with them.

SWAGS (working title) is created by Sue Teddern (Birds Of A Feather, Happy Together, soloparentpals.com for Radio 4) who will write the series with Jan McVerry (Coronation Street, Clocking Off, The Street, The Forsyte Saga). The drama will begin filming in the Manchester area in May.

“SWAGS is an emotional and heart-wrenching drama about the women who fight their own battles on the home front while thousands of miles away their loved ones are risking their lives every day,” said Executive Producer Kieran Roberts.

“Seeing how these remarkable women cope with survival, triumph, love and loss will make compelling viewing,” he added.

SWAGS has been commissioned by ITV’s Drama Commissioning team Laura Mackie and Sally Haynes.

“SWAGS is about real women in an all too real world,” said Director of Drama Commissioning Laura Mackie. “We’ll have an insight into the lives behind the headlines. It’ll be an emotional story brilliantly written by Jan McVerry and Sue Teddern.”

Casting for SWAGS takes place in the next few months and details of the actors taking the lead roles will be released in due course.