In World War II, when husbands, fathers and brothers went off to war, it was the women left behind who were charged with supporting each other to keep the community going. In Home Fires, which is concluding its current run on ITV1 in the UK and set to premiere on PBS’ Masterpiece series beginning in September, the women of the Great Paxford Women’s Institute help to maintain the nation’s fabric during its darkest hour. Based on Julie Summers’ brilliantly inspirational book, “Jambusters: The Story of the Women’s Institute in the Second World War”, we are introduced to a group of women in rural Cheshire who are increasingly affected by the impact of the war being fought on mainland Europe.
Starring Francesca Annis and Samantha Bond, Home Fires tells the story of the women that while they may be far from the horrors of the front and the fighting, live under the shadow of the Second World War which looms like a dark cloud over their lives. As the story plays out, there are mini-wars on the homefront as tensions mount and individuals fight for control. It’s not until the women realize, through the work of the Women’s Institute, that by working together just how powerful they can be in keeping their world from falling apart around them.
While Home Fires is set in Cheshire, it is also filmed there. The series was shot in Bunbury village which knows the effect of World War II all too well. In 1940, the village was attacked by a German aircraft returning from a night raid on Liverpool. The plane dropped surplus bombs over the village, destroying shops to a point beyond repair. As with a number of series that film extensively on location throughout the UK, visitors to Cheshire can learn more about the history of the village while visiting the various locales featured in the series. Personally, I’d suggest starting your journey at the Nags Head pub but that’s just me.
“We chose to film in Cheshire because it’s very beautiful,” explains executive producer Catherine Oldfield. “We looked all over Britain. The architecture of Cheshire is very distinctive and we really wanted to create a sense of this working community.”
Homes Fires concludes Sunday, 7 June, at 9pm on ITV1 and premieres on PBS’ Masterpiece in September 2015.