Written and created by Tony Grounds and made by BBC Studios, Our Girl returns to BBC One starring Michelle Keegan (Our Girl, Tina and Bobby) as Corporal Georgie Lane.
In an ambitious 12-part series commission, Our Girl series three will comprise of three separate tours. This first tour of four episodes finds Georgie on a relief mission in Nepal following a devastating series of earthquakes. Additionally tasked with mentoring the young and rebellious new 2-Section recruit Private Maisie Richards (Shalom Brune-Franklin – Barracuda, Crossing The Border), Georgie will have to tackle an unpredictable natural landscape and an increasingly dangerous human threat to the area, alongside the reappearance of Elvis (Luke Pasqualino – The Musketeers, Snatch).
Filming took place in Kathmandu and Cape Town and the further two tours will transmit in due course with more details to follow.
Executive produced by Caroline Skinner and Tony Grounds for BBC Studios, this tour of Our Girl is written by Tony Grounds (episodes 1,2,4) and Amy Roberts/Loren Mclaughlan (episode three), produced by Tim Whitby (Shameless, The Best Of Men) and directed by Tim Fywell (River, Happy Valley) and Jon Wright (Ordinary Lies, The Good Karma Hospital). Christopher Aird is executive producer for the BBC.
Corporal Georgie Lane
Gutsy, passionate and unstoppable, Georgie is an army medic from Stockport who relishes the adrenaline that comes with the adventures of her work. Having completed a number of tours, she’s proven she has strength, courage and, above all, a big heart. Georgie’s decision to join the army has since led her to the front line in Afghanistan, where she met her first true love and heartbreak, Elvis. After another failed romance, Georgie has spent every waking moment devoting herself to her work – despite the fact that thoughts of what could have been are never far from her mind.
Elvis is a cheeky Londoner who has grown into a remarkable leader, joining the SAS selection after a number of tours with the army. Fearless, self-confident and cool under pressure, Elvis has worked across both covert and overt operations fighting for counter terrorism and drug operations in the Middle and Far East, Afghanistan, and, most recently, Syria. Having already broken Georgie’s heart, he’s determined to make amends.
A charismatic leader and brilliant officer, Captain James is an army man to the core and well respected by the men who fight alongside him. The consummate professional, he had no problem keeping his private and his personal life separate – until he met army medic and now wife, Molly Dawes, while on tour in Afghanistan. However behind closed doors, Captain James battles many demons.
Private Maisie Richards
Brash and fearless, Maisie has always been front and centre of any group within which she finds herself. A free spirit, she often pokes fun at Georgie’s traditional ideas of love and romance. Maisie is from a typical working class background and has worked hard to become a skilled driver, but is eager to prove herself as a capable and fearless fighter. However, as confidence risks turning to recklessness, she soon finds herself pushed to her limits.
We left Georgie in Somalia at the end of season two. What’s happened since and has anything changed?
This season we pick up with Georgie at home with her friends and family, and she gets a call from Captain James asking her to come out to Nepal for a NGO relief mission. She’s still independent, not with Elvis, putting her career first and loving being in the Army.
What about Jamie?
Unfortunately there’s no news of Jamie! He’s probably settled down, got married and still a doctor!
Have you had to go to Bootcamp for this series?
Yes we did Bootcamp just like last year and we did it in Sandhurst and South Africa. We work alongside people who are in the Army and it’s about getting us in the mind-set of being back in the Army, running drills, how to hold a weapon, discipline, all about your kit and a lot of medical skills. I’ve learnt so much. I know how to use a tourniquet, a bandage, I know how to stitch, how to do CPR and a lot of technical bits too.
What’s the shooting schedule been like for a commission of 12 episodes?
I have been filming since end of April and we had Bootcamp the week before that. We filmed in Nepal for two weeks, then to South Africa until end of July. Then we flew to Malaysia for the next mission so it’s a long shooting schedule!
What’s been your favourite scene to shoot in the new series?
My favourite scene so far has been a bust up with Georgie and Elvis; we have a row where there’s a lot of frustration and a lot of jealousy but the love is still there. It was a great scene to film.
There’s a new member of 2-Section, Maisie. What can you tell us about her?
Maisie is very strong natured and it’s very challenging for Georgie as she’s her mentor. She has to look after her and keep her in check but Maisie is a bit of a rebel. At the end of the last episode they do come together as a team and it’s a bit of girl power. They are a strong force to be reckoned with.
The finale of this series is big. What was it like to film?
Filming the last episode was epic.
How would you describe Georgie in three words?
Strong, independent and a romantic.
Do you think you and Georgie would be friends in real life?
I do think we’d be friends in real life, I think she’s a girl’s girl. She’s not afraid to speak her mind and I love her attitude. She looks after number one but also looks after everyone else.
What have been the challenges from this block? Have you had any injuries from any of the stunts this mission?
It’s been a lot more physically demanding than the first one, definitely. There are a lot more stunts involved, more Army-based scenes and a lot more running which I’m not very good at! I’ve had to learn how to run like I’m in the Army – nightmare!
When we join Georgie in episode one, how does she feel about Elvis?
We join Georgie and Elvis in episode one in Syria where they left things on an even keel. They are work colleagues but there is still love there. Georgie still believes they can’t be together but Elvis still tries his luck a couple of times. Obviously Elvis is a ladies’ man but she does find out a few things she doesn’t like. She tries to be professional but deep down I think she’s genuinely hurt.
Have you picked up any bruises from filming?
I’ve been covered in bruises!
Finally, have you bought any comfort items with you from home for the long shoot?
I wanted to feel at home so I’ve brought Yorkshire Tea Bags in my suitcase, as well as my slippers!
Where do we find Elvis at the beginning of this tour?
We find Elvis on a plane to Syria; he’s assembled his team together, all his SF boys. He’s drafted Maisie into drive them and asked Georgie to tag along as his medic as he needs someone he trusts. We know Elvis is back on the scene, but we don’t know if he’s invited Georgie along as a medic or because he’s interested in her. But all will come to light!
Did you have to do any preparation to get back into the character of Elvis?
I watched some of series two to get the feeling back for it. A lot of it was remembering how to use weapons, how to stand and hold the weapon correctly, recapping all these bits at Bootcamp and getting together with our military advisors Nigel and Roger. We needed to make sure everything looked as it should and to look like it was believable that I would be in the SF.
It’s more physicality to get back into character. At Bootcamp we did a bit of paintballing which was fun, and we did a couple of activities too. In one activity the aim was to kill Nigel, our military advisor, before he killed us. We had to do it really stealthily; it had to be silent and just done with hand signals.
What are Elvis’ feelings towards Georgie in this series?
They are as they always have been. Incredibly head over heels in love with her and he wants to reconcile. She obviously still has her guard up and that frustrates Elvis, to know that there’s little he can say or do to win her back, but that doesn’t stop him from trying! I do respect him for that. Elvis and Georgie are still very much up and down with their feelings and what their future has in store for them as a couple. It’s all very much unknown and I think audiences will be surprised…
What’s it like working with Michelle?
Working with Michelle is amazing – she’s hilarious. How could anyone not get on with Michelle! She knows everyone’s name on set and a complete pro. She’s beautiful and lovely inside and out, and Michelle has really taken the show to new levels. She’s happy to be back working on it again, has an emotional connection to the show and all she wants to do is do the show justice and make everyone proud.
What have the stunts been like this year, have you learnt any new skills?
No injuries but I got my finger caught in the magazine of a gun which holds the bullet which hurt! I also had to learn to fast rope this year! Elvis’s stunt double jumped out of helicopters last year but this year they let me do that, which was great.
Can you tell us about new character Maisie?
Elvis is in one of those situations which goes from bad to worse. Maisie and Elvis have their own history, and when Georgie finds out, he knows he has his work cut out and it’s another hurdle to jump over. What would the love story between Georgie and Elvis be if there wasn’t a bit of a spanner in the works? Maisie is that spanner.
Episode four is very dramatic for your character – what can you tell us about that?
You will be on the edge of your seat…
How would you describe Our Girl to a viewer that hasn’t seen the series before?
I think it has something for everyone, whether you are 14 or 84, you’d enjoy it. It doesn’t target just one audience or for a certain age group. It’s got romance, action, some comedy and it shows relationships and the idea of what military life is like.
Where do we find Captain James at the start of this series?
At the beginning of this series we find him in Nepal, its unknown territory. He’s dealing with a post-earthquake disaster zone which he isn’t very comfortable with. He likes an enemy he can see being in the field of war. He’s a bit afraid basically. He’s not quite sure of his footing this time, which was interesting to play, and it progresses from there.
Is there any difference between Captain James from series two to the Captain James of series 3?
I think he started to become a little war weary in series two and that’s progressed even more. We go back to Afghanistan in this series and I think he starts to question the British involvement in the country. He’s done five tours there – was it worth it? He’s starting to question what he does and the ethics of it. We see him losing it a little bit.
How’s it going with Molly?
He mentions her once or twice in this series but we’ll get more insight in a later tour.
Can you tell us about where you’ve been shooting and how long?
We started off in Nepal for two weeks, it was a beautiful country. Waking up to the Himalayas every day was sensational. Then we came back to South Africa; we love filming there, it’s beautiful and with a great crew.
What about Bootcamp?
We had another boot camp led by Colonel Nigel Partington who always trains us. This one was less hectic, I think because we’ve done a few of them now so it’s less scary. But it did end with a massive training exercise where I was in charge the whole day with millions of casualties, wounded soldiers and blood. For preparation, I always return to a BBC documentary called Our War, and I have a couple of books that I dip back into and watch war films to get myself back into that headspace.
Have there been any challenges for you on this block at all?
It’s been very physically demanding, there’s a lot of action but it’s just fun. Every day is a fun day on this set.
Have you had a favourite scene to film?
There’s a scene set in Kabul where 2-Section is attacking a target building and we storm it. That was fun scene as it was very high octane and we filmed it like the Bourne films, very shaky and handheld.
The end of episode three is big for Captain James…
Captain James experiences a massive betrayal from someone he thought he could trust. As a result, he almost loses the section and jeopardises everyone’s life. For the first time in any drama that I’ve seen on TV, it gives a look into life in Afghanistan and for the soldiers in their Army who fought alongside them. It’s been written very carefully and delicately and well handled. It’s hard-hitting drama.
Tell us about Maisie and how she affects the dynamic?
Maisie is a natural rebel. She doesn’t adhere to the protocol for the Army, or the chain of command. Her character is quite rebellious and heroic. It causes some problems for her as she’s trying to save the day. But actually she’s not too dissimilar to Georgie in that way. She’s fun, spunky and sassy.
Would you be friends with Captain James in real life?
Probably not, we’re not overly alike I don’t think! We might have an awkward chat…
What’s it been like joining the cast?
It’s been nuts. It’s always pretty daunting walking into something on its third season and I didn’t think I’d have it as easy as I did. It hasn’t really hit me yet, but everyone was so incredibly lovely and welcoming.
When did you audition?
I auditioned in late February and then March was the call backs. Then after that, we did a Bootcamp in April, I flew back to Australia to see my family before I flew off for the rest of the year and then we flew straight to Nepal. I didn’t have time to process it all! This shoot has taken up the whole year, I now have a very strange relationship with my phone!
Did you have to do any other preparation?
Bootcamp was very intense and we had to shoot out in Nepal before the elections. We had about four days to learn everything – the procedures, the terminology and to feel comfortable even holding a weapon. I got in so much trouble for calling it a gun and not calling it a weapon system!
How do you find working with the military advisers?
So good. I have a lot of banter with them, I probably annoy them as I always question them and ask things like, “does it matter that my beret is this way?!” – but it really does. It’s so regimented and because you’re coming from it from an acting point of view, you think that we’re just playing humans. But its serious and we have all these protocols to follow.
Tell us a bit about Maisie.
Maisie is one crazy lady. She’s rebellious, she loves to be the hero and bend the rules to save someone. She’s a helper. She does clash at first and we’ve been told this is like quite a few young kids in the Army. She’s outspoken, rebellious but good-natured.
What’s her relationship with Georgie?
Georgie doesn’t really like Maisie – she thinks she’s rude, she doesn’t care, she doesn’t have a lot of respect for authority. She does what she wants. Georgie always tries to put her in her place. But there are a few situations where they come to each other’s aid.
What about new character Rab?
He’s obsessed with Maisie and won’t leave her alone. He’s like a pest!
Would you be friends with Maisie in real life?
Probably. I feel like she was the girl in school was loud and lairy and the class clown, which definitely wasn’t me as I was much more shy, but I’d always have a giggle with those people.
What’s the experience been like?
Amazing. I’ve managed to go to so many different countries and it’s been a bit of a dream.
Interview with Writer and Executive Producer Tony Grounds
How does this third series of Our Girl differ from the first and second series?
This is an emergency disaster relief mission after a devastating series of earthquakes in Nepal. There are no obvious enemies. You will see 2-Section also get involved with the issue of child trafficking. There are thousands of children trafficked from places such as Nepal, some of them voluntarily as they think they are heading to a better life.
Will 2-Section be back, and what new characters should we look out for?
Yes and we have two new recruits! Females are now allowed into the Army – not just as medics but the infantry. We have a female coming in as a specialist driver called Maisie and there’s another member who comes in called Rab.
Twelve episodes is a big commission but it will be separated into three different tours. How did you tackle writing three different stories?
It isn’t one story throughout all 12 episodes. I divided up the stories into separate tours, so you’ll see Nepal also leads into Afghanistan. Looking ahead, the second tour is also four episodes and this is two episodes in Nigeria and two in the Belize/Guatemalan border so there is movement.
Why did you set this mission in Nepal and Afghanistan and did you get to visit Nepal?
I’m fascinated by Nepal as there’s always been historic British involvement as we have links through the Gurkhas. Everyone knows about the big earthquake and there are smaller ones all the time. The Army aren’t just there to fight anymore; 90 percent of their work is humanitarian work. We’d never told a disaster relief story. I imagine a lot of our audience is the same age as 2-Section and might not know anything about Nepal.
I went to a village affected by the earthquake and that was the village we ended up shooting in. We needed to audition a child to play one of the villagers named Tara, and one of the young local girls wanted to do it so it was a no-brainer really! We also filmed in South Africa, of which some doubled as Nepal, and the little girl didn’t have a passport as she had never been out of the village, let alone the country, so the locals were a bit sceptical of us. When we were in the hotel in South Africa, she kept going up and down in the lift as she’d never been in a lift before!
What does Michelle bring to the role as Georgie Lane?
I think she’s fantastic, she embodies Georgie Lane now. She brings a young modern girl to the Army who is committed to making the world a better place. I think it’s one in nine new army recruits are female so it’s going up all the time.
Viewers love the Elvis/Georgie storyline, do you enjoy writing that?
I love writing Elvis and Georgie. It’s a real burning love story where they can’t function without each other or function with each other. It’s a passionate love and its wonderful writing it for Michelle and Luke.