ITV today confirmed the commission of a second series of World War II drama Home Fires from producers ITV Studios.
Screening presently on Sunday evenings and winning its slot comfortably with a consolidated average rating of 6.2 million viewers to date and a 24% share of the audience, Home Fires follows a group of inspirational women at the heart of a rural Cheshire community who steadfastly bring the village together during our nation’s darkest hour.
Four episodes of the current first series have aired with two remaining episodes transmitting this Sunday 7 June and the following Sunday 14 June. Impressively, Home Fires is the best performing Sunday evening drama for ITV in 2014 and so far in 2015 after Downton Abbey.
With forthright and fiery Frances Barden played by Samantha Bond leading the fight and Francesca Annis as authoritative Joyce Cameron, the thorn in her side, the women under the auspices of the Great Paxford Women’s Institute discover inner resources that change their lives forever.
Through their own strength and resourcefulness, the eclectic band of local women – Frances’s sister Sarah, (Ruth Gemmill), downtrodden neighbour Pat Simms (Claire Rushbrook), pharmacist Erica (Frances Grey), local farmer Steph (Clare Calbraith) bookkeeper Alison (Fenella Woolgar), school teacher Teresa (Leanne Best) and butcher’s wife Miriam (Claire Price) – discover ways of improving the lives of their fellow villagers and offer a support network at a time of impending danger and crisis.
As the conflict takes hold and the separation from their husbands, fathers, sons and brothers becomes more intensely painful and acute, the women rely heavily upon one another and the friendships forged through village life.
Homes Fires creator and writer Simon Block (Lewis, The Shooting of Thomas Hurndall, Casualty 1909, Attachments) has devised the second series (6 x 60’) with Executive Producers Francis Hopkinson (Wallander, Lucan, Jekyll & Hyde) and Catherine Oldfield (Collison, Fingersmith, Foyle’s War). Simon, who will also serve as Executive Producer, will write episodes for the new series and Glen Laker (Vera, Holby City) will join him in scripting some of the drama.
Inspired by the book ‘Jambusters’ by Julie Summers, the drama will begin filming in Cheshire during the summer of 2015.
Home Fires has been recommissioned for ITV by Director of Drama Steve November and Controller of Drama Victoria Fea who have been delighted with the audience’s reaction to the series.
“We’ve been really pleased with how viewers have taken Home Fires to their heart,” said Steve. “Through Simon’s wonderfully observed scripts, and the characters he’s created, we’ve come to know real women who kept the home fires burning throughout the Second World War. Their war effort is an intriguing aspect of our national social history and we’re delighted the women will be reunited for a second series,” added Steve.
Executive Producer Francis Hopkinson commented: “We’re thrilled the incredible ensemble cast of Home Fires will be returning for a second series. The new series will play out under the Battle of Britain and the frighteningly real prospect of German invasion and defeat. It was a very challenging and dark period in our country’s history. Whilst the men were away fighting, the women left behind had to face their own fears.”
In this coming Sunday’s episode (TX: 7 June) Erica (Frances Grey) is unexpectedly forced to reveal what she has done to protect Pat (Claire Rushbrook), and Frances (Samantha Bond) takes in an evacuee from Liverpool, whilst Miriam (Claire Price) throws herself into writing letters to friendless soldiers. Some devastating news for Teresa (Leanne Best) challenges her friendship with Alison (Fenella Woolgar), and after Spencer’s (Mike Noble) secret is revealed, Claire (Daisy Badger) must decide whether to stand by him.
As the situation in Europe escalates and war draws ever closer to home, during the final episode of the first series (TX: 14 June) the women of the village have their own battles to fight. Frances (Samantha Bond) is determined to help Pat (Claire Rushbrook) before it’s too late, whilst Alison (Fenella Woolgar) searches for a way out of her own desperate situation. Miriam (Claire Price) hides an important piece of news from Bryn (Daniel Ryan).