My Mother and Other Strangers: Compelling end to war-time drama

Programme Name: My Mother and Other Strangers - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Iconic - general release Captain Ronald Dreyfuss (AARON STATON), Rose Coyne (HATTIE MORAHAN), Michael Coyne (OWEN MCDONNELL) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Stefan Hill

Programme Name: My Mother and Other Strangers - TX: n/a - Episode: n/a (No. n/a) - Picture Shows: Iconic - general release Captain Ronald Dreyfuss (AARON STATON), Rose Coyne (HATTIE MORAHAN), Michael Coyne (OWEN MCDONNELL) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Stefan Hill

Love, war, romance, death...

These are pretty big subjects for a Sunday evening, but they have all reared their heads during this wonderful five-part drama which, sadly, reaches its conclusion this week.

Set in rural Northern Ireland during the Second World War, it has focused on the Coyne family and their interactions with the US servicemen stationed near their home village.

At the heart of the story is matriarch Rose, played by Hattie Morahan.

“I was really struck when I first read the script by the singularity in Barry’s writing,” says the actress. “I had never read anything that had such a strong flavour of place in a particular world and the way people spoke to one another.

“I was fascinated by these characters, her family and all the people in the village. It felt like we were seeing a little slither of a real life lived elsewhere. I found the story to be moving and beautiful and the more I learnt about whom was involved, I was just more and more excited to be a part of it.”

She claims that despite the period setting, the story appeals thanks to its universal themes: “On the surface it might resemble a period drama about life in the 1940s in this particular community, but the deeper themes which I feel are marriage, how to live a life and be a happy, good person.

“Everybody’s struggling to know what the right thing is to do and there’s a strong moral questioning within the family. Rose and her husband Michael are very principled, even if their principles differ. They live their lives with a sense of moral urgency and what happens when you heart goes a different way from your head.”

Over the course of the drama, viewers have seen Rose fall for the dashing Captain Dreyfuss, and when the final episode begins, she is wistfully awaiting his arrival early one morning by the Far Rock. She eventually returns home frozen, and while Sally worries about her, she goes about her business at school, whipping the children up into a frenzy with talk of a Christmas party.

And then Dreyfuss returns... But how will she react to seeing him again after three weeks apart?

“There’s been a gradual recognition of the thought that, underneath all the formality and the day-to-day business, this man could have been her soul mate,” explains Morahan of the attraction between the pair.

“They have a shared temperament and it knocks her for six which is devastating, because it’s not as if she doesn’t love her husband. She’s someone who would normally like to pride herself on being quite self-controlled and rational, but I don’t think she is at all.”

Later, as the children cut loose at the party, which is being held in a transformed aircraft hanger, Rose discovers the real reason for Dreyfuss’ disappearance, leaving her more torn than ever between home and heart.

How will she react? There’s only one way to find out...