The last time Our Girl was on screens, it broke viewers’ hearts. After two series of will-they/won’t-they build-up, Georgie and her Special Forces ex-fiancé Elvis reignited their romance, only for him to be blasted from the roof of a building and die in her arms.
The outcry was immediate as devastated fans mourned the loss of one of their favourite characters – but as Our Girl returns to screens, they’ll be greeted by a resolute Georgie (played by Michelle Keegan) still grieving but marching ahead with her army career.
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This latest series takes her – along with 2-Section – to Nigeria, a landscape fraught with danger and the lurking threat of Boko Haram.
We caught up with Michelle Keegan to hear all about Elvis’s exit, Georgie’s recovery – and how she coped with jungle creepy crawlies.
So, the end of last series was pretty rough…
It was so unexpected and that’s what I love about the last episode in the last series – we knew it was going to happen from day one and the audience didn’t and I love the fact it was a shock for everyone.
Where do we find Georgie as the new series begins?
She had to go on leave to grieve and she was in Preston for six months – she didn’t want to go on tour again for a while. I think she buries her head in the sand a lot of the time and pretends everything’s fine but deep down she’s totally heartbroken.
Is she putting love and romance on the back-burner for now?
Yes, it’s what she’s always done – especially when it comes to Elvis. When he didn’t turn up on their wedding day she went straight back into work, when he turned up she pretended she didn’t want to know him and continued to do her job, and that’s her focus – she doesn’t want to sit at home doing nothing, she wants to be with 2-Section and do good as well and she loves her job.
When a series has been so based on a will-they/won’t-they relationship, how do you move past that?
Obviously it’s about being in the army and and it’s about how to move forward and I think because it is about Georgie’s life and grief, people can relate to it. It’s how she gets on with it. And especially with the different countries we went to, it’s about what’s going on in today’s society as well, it’s not just about the love storyline – it’s about all the different countries and what’s going on in the world.
Would you have liked Elvis to survive?
Yeah, I love romantic storylines and I’m like the audience – I would have loved them to live happily ever after and a part of me thinks that they should have. I would have loved to see them both leave the army together and have a normal life but their characters, that would just never have happened because obviously they had the relationship with each other but they also had a relationship with the army and a lot of people who are in the army find it difficult to leave.
You filmed in South Africa and Malaysia – were there any locations you were apprehensive about going to?
I always felt really safe, we all did, and even when we were filming in shanty towns and places we’ve never been before, everyone was so lovely – the people that live there were really excited we were filming there and they always wanted to be on camera and were really inquisitive.
And the weather?
It was manageable actually. [South Africa] was freezing in the morning – we used to wear coats and long johns, loads of layers, but then it got to 10 o’clock when the sun came up and you were literally stripping off. It was one extreme to the other. And then Malaysia, that was sometimes unbearable. That was like a really humid heat so you were just sweating the whole time and it’s weird because you just adapt. I used to send my mum pictures with sweat dripping off my nose.
What about nasty creepy crawlies?
I look back now and think ‘I can’t believe I did that’. We had to wear leech socks because there were so many leeches and all the crew, because they wore shorts, were getting bitten by leeches all the time. We were staying at a jungle and we had to live there for ten days – we had to go to work on a boat, that’s how in the middle of the jungle it was. I remember I ate an Oreo in bed. Big mistake. I didn’t even drop any crumbs, but I came back home the next day and got into bed and you know when something isn’t right? I turned the light on, moved the quilt and there were tiny little brown ants everywhere all over the bed. But you just wipe them off and get back into bed – it was just the norm. South Africa was fine, I could deal with that, but it was more Malaysia and the jungle. That was horrendous.
What do you look forward to when filming is over?
You know what I missed – just normality. That’s the only thing because I was living in hotels, I was sick of noodles because that’s all I was eating. I just wanted to have a normal Sunday afternoon with my family, with Mark [Wright, her husband], with the dogs and just chill – I just wanted to chill because I had no downtime either and that’s why the past few months have been out in LA with Mark because I feel like I was working so much last year on my own. Now is the time to have a few months just doing what I do – going to the gym, being with my dogs.
Did Mark come to see you?
He came out to South Africa but he couldn’t come to Malaysia because that’s when he got the job in LA – he’s contracted and he couldn’t have any leave unfortunately. Everyone always says ‘I don’t know how you do it’ but we kept in contact every day. We spoke on FaceTime every day and luckily with South Africa there’s no time difference so it was perfect.
You were filming for a long time…
Having done such a long shoot, have you thought about whether you’ll make more Our Girl if the series gets recommissioned?
I don’t think that’s the norm to film for that amount of time so it depends, really. I love working on the show so I don’t know.
Do you have any interest in working in LA?
Don’t get me wrong, I have an American agent out there and I had a few meetings while I was out there but nothing yet. We’ll see. I do like it out there – I couldn’t live out there though, just because I’m such a home bird. I love going back up to Manchester and when Mark’s home we like to chill around Essex in our home. I think it’s too far away but good to go for a few weeks and get a bit of sunshine.
Our Girl begins on Tuesday 5th June at 9pm on BBC1