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Highs and lows of land girl Joyce; Becci Gemmell on how her character's life crashes down around her after flying start.

Byline: STEVE HENDRY

LAND GIRLS

MON-FRI, BBC1, 2.25pm

The lives and loves of the land girls serving their country in the Women's Land Army returns - with Becci Gemmell back in the thick of the action.

When the period drama opens, she is at the helm of an RAF Tiger Moth training plane.

As land girl Joyce Fisher she is taken for a birthday spin by her pilot husband. And, while it was a thrill for the actress, she had to remain earth-bound.

" The plane was gorgeous," Becci says. "Unfortunately they wouldn't really let me fly in it, although I was taxied around, which was hilarious as I was wearing half a wig in the open top plane. It made such a racket and there were buttons and levers everywhere.

" This guy was manually trying to get the propeller going and it wouldn't start and there was such a terrible smell of gas. I thought we'd go up in flames."

It's a happy, flying start for Joyce but life soon crash lands back to earth. Having already lost her home and parents in the bombing of Coventry in the first series - which is why she ended up becoming a land girl - in the second series, she faces the loss of husband John who served in Bomber Command.

While Joyce epitomises the famed British war-time spirit of being straightforward, patriotic and ever willing to do her bit, her ability to take this latest blow in her stride, masked beneath an apparently sunny disposition, is tested to the full.

"It wasn't comfortable to film," Becci says. "I constantly had to question how she would react to a series of dilemmas.

"It's been brilliant though and makes for interesting drama.

"Having lost her family, she's now lost her husband, while Nancy, the friend she made in the last series, has also gone.

Then she comes face to face with a German airman who has crash landed, presenting her with another massive challenge.

"Joyce is so patriotic and hopeful but she's frail as well. She goes through the mill and, by the end of this series, she is a completely different girl to the one who started out in the first episode of series one."

Land Girls is set at run-down Pasture Farm and opulent Hoxley Manor.

e series catches up with Joyce and her pal Bea Holloway (Jo Woodcock) who is now a farmer's wife to Billy (Liam Boyle) and mother to William, the result of a one-night stand with an American GI. They are joined by the new, streetwise, Cockney land girl Connie Carter (Seline Hizli), who is delivered to the farm by a jeep full of GIs.

She is young, brash and sexy and causes mayhem from the moment she arrives "She is brilliant," Becci says, "and has so much energy."

Making the show has been an education for Becci about the role the land girls played in winning the Second World War.

She says: "I researched it in the British Library and read about how they lived and the fact is we'd have starved without them. It's shocking that they weren't recognised o cially until 2008, when there was this big apology because they really were an army with conscription and a uniform. e story is one that is still within living memory and focuses on camaraderie and people from all walks of life pulling together."

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DOWN TO EARTH... Becci plays Joyce, centre, with fellow land girls Connie, left and Bea
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jan 15, 2011
Words:583
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