The Military Wives choir review ITV drama Homefront

The show has divided the opinion of critics - now we ask the people that have lived it what they think of the programme

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The Military Wives choir review ITV drama Homefront
Written By
Daniela Soave

When Homefront showed the repatriation of a fallen soldier, our TV Editor Alison Graham had reservations about  ITV1’s new army wives drama, now the Salisbury Plain Military Wives Choir are having their say...


THE SERGEANT MAJOR’S WIFE

Antonella Duncan, 41, is married to Keith, 34. They have a son Charlie, 4. Keith has served in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It was quite upsetting to watch the repatriation of the soldier’s body. We had been warned beforehand about the storyline, but we all shed a tear. We all felt that although the programme-makers were out to tell a story and entertain, they wanted to do it justice. It felt that it was being represented truthfully.

“Most of our time is spent taking the kids to school and getting on with everyday life, but for a drama you have to condense everything that happens in an army career into an hour. Even so, I thought it was well done. It was a good watch, but hard at the same time, because that fear is there in the background always.

“None of the characters came across as fake. There’s an interesting dynamic with one family, where the father has been in the army and now his sons are both serving. You can see how he and his wife understand military life, and how their children have absorbed their love of army life from moving around from posting to posting. That happens.

“You also saw how phone calls and Skype calls home are vital for morale. There’s an unwritten rule that, no matter what, you are always bright and cheerful. It doesn’t mean that the men think that everything is always all right at home, but you accept that you’re each protecting the other. My husband says he has the easier job, because when he’s on tour he can’t miss me the way I miss the lack of his presence at home. He doesn’t think he could do what I have to do.”


THE STAFF SERGEANT’S WIFE

Tracie Campbell, 39, is married to Don, 38. They each have children from previous marriages. Don is currently serving in Afghanistan and is due home in October.

“I did get upset during the repatriation scene, no matter how sensitively it was done. It rang home. Don has been away for seven months and that’s seven months I’ve been worrying about him. Everything runs through your head just as it played out onscreen. ‘Who’s at the door, what’s going to happen?’ You do have a sense of panic. But you can’t worry constantly. It’s part of their job and you have to get your head around that. But I found it quite emotional. It did put ‘what if’ into my head. You know the danger, but you hope it never happens to you.

“One thing I’m delighted about it that it will give people an idea of what wives and girlfriends and families go through. It shows what our lives are like when our men go away.

“I liked the strong sense of friendship among the women. Some people think that officers’ wives only talk to officers’ wives, but wives don’t really recognise husbands’ ranks. So I warmed to the Major’s fiancé, because she cuts across all that.

“I do think that the military wives should have a choir. Being in the choir has given us a real sense of community and solidarity and it’s amazing how people have taken us under their wings. We have sung in front of the Queen, we’ve performed at the House of Commons, and we’re releasing another album in November.”


THE COLONEL’S WIFE

Roz Amison, 43, is married to Darrell, 44. They have two children, Izzy, 15 and Charlie, 5. Among his many tours, Darrell has served in Northern Ireland, Kuwait, Bosnia, Iraq and Afghanistan. He becomes a Brigadier next July.

“The thing that struck home the most for me in Homefront was the support among the wives. I thought that was true to life. The thought of Darrell going away always fills me with dread, but on one occasion I had just found out I was pregnant with Charlie, and I was overwhelmed by the amount of support I had, from people I knew and those I didn’t.

“In the first episode, one of the soldiers is killed, and the reaction of the community was moving and authentic. My husband is alive and well, and there have been no awful knocks on the door, but those scenes had me hanging on the edge of my seat. It felt quite scary.

“When your husband is away you can’t be frightened 24 hours a day; you have to smile at your children and get on with life. But sometimes it gets too close for comfort, and those emotions were reflected in that episode.

“Claire Skinner’s character (Claire Marshbrook) is anxious about becoming a military wife and that rang true, as well. When I was a girlfriend and Darrell was serving in Germany, I was concerned about how I would adapt. But all wives are equal – we don’t wear our husband’s ranks – and that stereotype is dropping away.

“The housing looked accurate, apart from one very big no-no. Wallpaper! I have heard of people using blu tack to attach wallpaper, but most army walls are magnolia. Apparently it’s a very bad colour to film against, though, so that explains that inaccuracy.

“I’d love to see the wives start a choir. In 18 years as a military wife, it’s been the most rewarding thing I’ve done personally.”


Homefront is on tonight at 9:00pm on ITV1

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