Recommended second chance
Nicola Stephenson plays Louise Mancetta, a former Army nurse in a six-part drama featuring three wives of soldiers working in Afghanista and one mother. Nicola tells TV Choice more about the series, which also co-stars Misfits’ Antonia Thomas, The Syndicate’s Clare Higgins and Claire Skinner from Outnumbered…
Louise is quite a toughie — was that a challenge?
I naturally bring a lot of my girliness to a part and she is quite feminine and sexy, but she’s also tough. She’s seen stuff as a soldier, and what’s interesting about her within the drama is she knows she’s the only wife who is aware what it’s like out there in combat.
One of the main problems the wives have is when their husbands come back they don’t talk about what they’ve done, and all those things, because they don’t want them to know the horrible stuff they’ve seen. So they just don’t tell them anything and instead go off and confide in each other. But Louise and her husband Joe [Warren Brown] have a closer relationship because of that bond. However, they have their own problems and it’s hard in different ways for them.
How are we introduced to Louise?
The very first scene in the show is Louise doing this striptease floorshow on Skype for Joe. So he’s in a tent in Helmand, and she’s in her sexy underwear in the bedroom — and their kids are knocking on the door going, ‘Mum!’ She’s like, "S*** did I lock the door?!"' So you see her from the word go, spinning all the plates. She’s got to keep on top of the kids, the housework, and she’s supporting a wife whose husband’s been killed. All the time, she’s keeping her own husband happy — even though he’s a thousand miles away. Making sure his mind’s on his family back home!
Does he wander?
Louise knows she hasn’t married a saint. I think she’s fully aware of what he is capable of…
The writer of the show, Sue Teddern, has described your character as the girl everyone wants to be friends with. Is that accurate?
I guess so. The wives are all ranked as to their husbands’ jobs, so she’s sort of somewhere in the middle. Louise is outspoken and down to earth. She likes a drink. When Claire [Claire Skinner] arrives, Louise is the first person who’s friendly towards her.
Have you met real Army wives?
Yes. The one I spoke to told me there’s this sort of hierarchy and class difference between the different wives. It affects their lives quite a lot. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it is, because on her street there are only officers living there, so she just doesn’t socialise with the other ranks’ wives. They have different social events, so they do kind of get segregated.
Do you think it’s stifling to live like that?
I think that sort of divide is the least of their hardships that they have to face on a day-to-day basis. Being away from your husband and him being in constant danger and worrying that he won’t come back is the main thing that they’ve got on their minds.