Lacey Turner stars in Tony Grounds’ new single drama Our Girl, directed by David Drury for BBC One.
Our Girl is the story of Molly Dawes (Turner), the eldest of five kids with little future, a difficult father and a mother who always wanted more for her. Born and raised in the London Borough of Newham, it tells her story from nobody to a soldier in the Royal Army Medical Corps, to her final arrival in Afghanistan.
Lacey Turner says: “I am so excited to be a part of Our Girl. It is a beautifully written drama of one girl's journey through life. Molly is such an interesting character who shows such strength and determination. She's a girl who you cannot help but love."
Writer Tony Grounds on Our Girl
My grandfather fought in the Battle of the Somme. My brother’s son has enlisted for the US Army. No conscript is merely a soldier - they are someone’s child or sibling, parent or spouse.
That was very much at the forefront of my mind when visiting an army base with an ex-forces friend. There, we were told of this young girl who, during her basic training was angry as a feral cat; throughout her initial weeks they had little hope of her passing out, let alone becoming an asset to the army, and yet she went on the become one of the finest combat medics to have served in Afghanistan… brilliant in a crisis; calm, logical, professional and a genuine life saver. Tourniqueting the injured, calling in the Chinooks to air lift casualties, she was always exemplary. She had found the ‘thing’ she was brilliant at.
I had always wanted to write about the young and disenfranchised finding the ‘thing’ they are brilliant at. Too often those perceived as troubled youth are discouraged from ‘achieving’ because they’ve only ever known ‘failure’. I wanted to write a story of hope. I believe that there is something that everyone can excel at.
That doesn’t mean I think the armed forces are right for everyone. Mo Farrah had a teacher who inspired him to run, someone told Beckham he could kick a ball and once upon a long time ago a friend encouraged me to write. But the story of the young recruit who went on to be a combat medic wouldn’t leave me alone. It kept nagging away at me. Every time I started writing something else I started to hear her voice, “Don’t forget about me.”
As is often the way, fate then intervened. John Yorke, then an executive from the BBC drama department, asked me if I had any ideas for Lacey Turner. I pitched the combat medic story and suddenly Our Girl was conceived. Three years on from that auspicious meeting, we have now finished the film. Ken Horn was bought in to produce and David Drury to direct. How lucky was I?
All basic training now takes place at ATC Pirbright and through skilled and careful negotiations with the Ministry of Defense we were given permission to film there. The soldiers from the camp could not have been more accommodating. They helped us get the detail exact, taught us how to wear the uniform, how to salute, how to march – in short, how to be soldiers. Our girls were placed with real recruits undergoing real training, there was no hiding place; they had to rise to the challenge and this they did.
It’s not just the detail we needed to get right; mine was a story of one girl’s journey from a somewhat out of control miscreant, working in an East Ham nail bar, to someone who is an asset to her country. A journey to be proud of. Lacey Turner is an actress of remarkable emotional intelligence. She understood our girl and was able to breath an astonishing life into the complex character of Molly Dawes.