Land Girls

Land Girls is a series commissioned by the BBC to mark the 70th anniversary of the start of WWII. While the men fought in the armed forces, women first volunteered, and then were conscripted, to work the land in rural England. This is the story of four women who, for diverse reasons, come to Pasture Farm.

Each girl has her own unique personal history. Nancy Morrell is solidly middle class. She is educated and well-dressed. In the first episode, she resents being drafted and is unaccustomed to the hard physical labor of tending crops.

Her character is sharply contrasted by the hard-working Joyce Fisher, whose husband is serving in the British air force. Although her family has been killed in a bombing raid, Joyce soldiers on in a spirited and upbeat way. Unlike the beautiful Nancy, Joyce is plain. It is gratifying to see her married to and in love with a handsome man--one who passionately loves her in return. Like her, he is serving his country, and his weekly letters are an inspiration for her.

The sisters Bea and Annie are equally engaging characters. Bea is a vivacious seventeen year old, rebelling against her sister's protective and sensible ways. Somewhat promiscuous, she is soon pregnant from a one-night stand with an American soldier. Meanwhile, we learn the truth about Annie's marriage and the sacrifice she has made to protect them from their father.

The farms owner, Frederick Finch, is a comic character and provides humor in an otherwise serious plot. He enlists a young hired hand in a series of misadventures to earn an illicit buck and skirt the wartime rations. Yet he is as kind as he is devious, offering his home to the pregnant Bea.

Other characters include Billy, the decent and guileless son of Finch. Esther Reeves is in charge of the land girls on the farm.

A foil to the working class girls and those they report to are Lord and Lady Hoxley, owners of the manor. This estate is adjacent to the farm, and the girls alternately work as maids there. The first season highlights their unhappy marriage while shedding light on the antiquated class system.

Like most productions of the BBC, Land Girls has fine actors, a well-written script, and is equal parts drama, humor, and romance. It tackles some larger issues, such as "segregation of the black and white American troops, the hunt for Nazi sympathizers and the use of prisoners of war as laborers." (Land Girls -TV Series, "Concept and Development," Wikipedia) But beyond its thematic content, the series is highly entertaining. 

Land Girls is beginning its third season this fall. Catch up by borrowing it from the library.

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