World War II – like any war – brought out both the worst and the best that humanity had to offer: Such names as George Patton, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Anne Frank and Jimmy Doolittle are but a few of the brightest that decorated the canvas of that tumultuous time and that have gone on to inspire countless souls over the decades since. Another name that is often justifiably cited when speaking about heroes from the “last good war” is that of Winston Churchill. The cigar-chomping, no-nonsense Prime Minister of Great Britain helped shepherd his countrymen through dark times indeed and he did so with many-a deft turn of phrase and an indomitable will that could not be broken. The man was the stuff legends are made of and he obviously didn’t go it alone – he commanded a respect and fierce loyalty among his fellow Brits and that admiration filtered out to the rest of the free world where he was likewise canonized as an immortal. Of course, Winnie (as Churchill was often referred to) had some help along the way. One of those people indispensable to the Prime minister and the good folks of Britain during that world crisis was a woman named Joan Bright who worked in Churchill’s Top-Secret bunker during the war and, rumor has it, went on to inspire no less of an iconic character than 007’s very own Miss Moneypenny. What a life and one that, according to our Victory Garden compatriots over at the high-flyin’, is set to receive a long-overdue bout of recognition courtesy of an upcoming television drama series.
She will play Joan Bright, the woman who ran Winston Churchill’s secret Whitehall bunker, the lead character in a new TV drama series called The War Rooms.
The show will bring the words of the real-life Joan’s memoir (named The Inner Circle: A View Of War At The Top) to the screen. It looks like multiple seasons are planned, with each one set to be looking at 12-18 month periods of the second world war. The show will concentrate on the stories of Joan and the women she knew and worked with, as well as how they helped shape the country’s victory. Powerful stuff.
It sounds like Bright had quite a life, and we could be in for quite a ride while watching her story. In addition to her experiences at Whitehall, she was also reportedly a former girlfriend of James Bond author Ian Fleming and became one of the inspirations behind Miss Moneypenny.
The War Rooms is set to tell the story of Joan Bright and other women that worked in secret in Churchill’s secret bunker during the darkest days of the Second World War. The series will be an ongoing television drama that will feature no-less of an acting stalwart than Jenna Coleman (as Joan Bright) who is white hot off of her stellar work in the BBC/Netflix miniseries The Serpent.
Created by mastermind David Chidllow, The War Rooms has the distinction of being produced by newly minted Oscar nominee (for The Father) David Parfitt alongside Jamie Carmichael for their production houses Trademark Films and Atlantic Nomad, respectively.
The War Rooms is set to be produced by David Parfitt, who was also a producer of The Father, which won two awards at the 2021 Oscars.
“Joan Bright was never going to live a conventional life – a young woman who lived her war days under the Official Secrets Act, undercover and underground in the war rooms,” Jenna has said. “This story is so compelling not only because of her unique and liberal mind, wryness of spirit and curiosity to live, but because of the opportunity to examine this endlessly fascinating period of time through an intimate and human lens.
“The beauty and fragility of human connection when living through a time when no one knows what tomorrow will bring,” she added. I’m so excited to unearth these hidden lives and at a time where it feels so shockingly relevant right now.”
In a press release announcing her involvement with the new project, Jenna Coleman said that “Joan Bright was never going to live a conventional life – a young woman who lived her war days under the official secrets act, undercover and underground in the war rooms. This story is so compelling not only because of her unique and liberal mind, wryness of spirit and curiosity to live, but because of the opportunity to examine this endlessly fascinating period of time through an intimate human lens. The closeness and proximity of days and nights lived within this small space, the carriers of truth amidst the oblivion of propaganda above. The beauty and fragility of human connection when living through a time when no one knows what tomorrow will bring.”
Every season of The War Rooms is set to focus on twelve to eighteen months of World War II. Casting is still underway (quick, grab my gabardines and my hand-painted 1940s neckties; I’ll make an actor yet!) with production start dates and ultimate television airings still being ironed out. Keep your Ration Cards handy, Ladies and Gents.