The Promise (2011)

Claire Foy is playing Erin Matthews (series regular)

The PromiseTV Premiere: UK: February 6, 2011 on Channel 4 / US: TBA
DVD Release: UK: February 28, 2011 / US: TBA
Created by: Peter Kosminsky
Starring:

Claire Foy, Christian Cooke, Itay Tiran, Katharina Schüttler, Haaz Sleiman


Genre: Drama / Period Drama
Runtime: 90 minutes per episode
Rating: UK: 15 / US: unknown



Plot Outline

The Promise is a fictional four part drama that tells the story of Erin, an 18-year-old Londoner who, while spending a summer in Israel, finds herself face to face with the brutal realities of the conflict in the Middle East.

The drama will intercut between two timeframes and stories: that of Erin in the present-day, and that of her grandfather who, in the 1940s was part of the peace-keeping force in Palestine and witnessed first hand the violent events during the last years of the British Mandate.

The story begins when Erin’s best friend, Eliza, the daughter of wealthy Israeli-Jewish parents, is called back to Israel for her National Service and invites Erin along to spend the summer with her and her family. En route, Erin starts to read a diary that she has found that was written by her grandfather in the forties. Moved by his account and the realisation that he wasn’t much older than her when he wrote the diary, Erin retraces his steps in modern day Israel, seeing for herself the hard facts of life for both Jewish and Palestinian communities. But as Len’s story unfolds, Erin finds herself on a journey which takes her deep into the Occupied Territories, the unresolved disputes of the Mandate period – and right to the heart of the current conflict in that troubled land.

Claire's Role

Claire Foy plays Erin, an 18-year-old Londoner who, while spending a summer in Israel, finds herself face to face with the brutal realities of the conflict in the Middle East.

Episodes featuring Claire Foy

Episode 1 (1.01 - Aired on February 6, 2011)
Directed by Peter Kosminsky
Written by Peter Kosminsky
Additional Episode Cast

Ali Suliman, Perdita Weeks, Ben Miles, Smadi Wolfman, Holly Aird, Hiam Abbass, Lukas Gregorowicz, Luke Allen-Gale, Iain McKee, Paul Anderson


Synopsis

Just as 18-year-old Londoner Erin sets off to spend summer in Israel with her best friend, Eliza, she unearths an old diary belonging to her seriously ill grandfather, Len. Intrigued by the life of this old man she barely knows, she takes the diary with her, and is stunned to learn of his part in the post-WWII British peace-keeping force in what was then Palestine. Left to her own devices when Eliza begins National Service in the Israeli army, Erin witnesses the complexities of life – for both Jews and Arabs – in this troubled land. And as Len’s story comes to life from the pages of the diary, Erin discovers the disturbing truths about his time in Palestine and the atrocities he witnessed in the 1940s. Retracing Len’s steps in modern-day Israel, Erin sets out on a heart-breaking journey in an effort to understand and fulfil a promise made by her grandfather over 60 years ago.

Episode 2 (1.02 - Aired on February 13, 2011)
Directed by Peter Kosminsky
Written by Peter Kosminsky
Additional Episode Cast

Ali Suliman, Perdita Weeks, Ben Miles, Smadi Wolfman, Holly Aird, Hiam Abbass, Lukas Gregorowicz, Luke Allen-Gale, Iain McKee, Paul Anderson


Synopsis

The episode begins in 1940s Palestine, where Len meets Abu-Hassan Mohammed, an Arab charwallah working for the British Army. Len is appalled to see how Mohammed is treated by some of the soldiers as he attempts to serve tea, so he intervenes to discipline them. A friendship grows between the two men after the incident. In modern Israel, Erin is experiencing the aftermath of the attack on a café by a Palestinian suicide bomber. She decides to leave Israel at the earliest opportunity, but first she reads the end of Len’s diary and is shocked by what she discovers. Despite the trauma of the café bombing, Erin resolves to stay in Israel while she delves deeper into her grandfather’s story.

Episode 3 (1.03 - Aired on February 20, 2011)
Directed by Peter Kosminsky
Written by Peter Kosminsky
Additional Episode Cast

Ali Suliman, Perdita Weeks, Ben Miles, Smadi Wolfman, Holly Aird, Hiam Abbass, Lukas Gregorowicz, Luke Allen-Gale, Iain McKee, Paul Anderson


Synopsis

Len is lying in hospital, being treated for his injuries after his unit has been under attack in Haifa. When he recovers, he goes to see Mohammed and spends some time teaching his son Hassan geometry. Len also visits his Jewish lover Clara before rejoining his unit. The soldiers prepare for a highly sensitive military operation against the Irgun, but their secret plans are betrayed, with appalling consequences for Len and his men. Reading these dramatic events, Erin is even more determined to resolve the mystery surrounding the fate of Len and his charwallah friend Mohammed. In search of Mohammed’s family, she travels alone to the West Bank. But once there she arouses suspicion and is arrested by Israeli soldiers.

Episode 4 (1.04 - Aired on February 27, 2011)
Directed by Peter Kosminsky
Written by Peter Kosminsky
Additional Episode Cast

Ali Suliman, Perdita Weeks, Ben Miles, Smadi Wolfman, Holly Aird, Hiam Abbass, Lukas Gregorowicz, Luke Allen-Gale, Iain McKee, Paul Anderson


Synopsis

Erin refuses to abandon her quest to find Mohammed’s family, even though it takes her on a hazardous journey into Gaza. Len’s diary records how, in 1947, Jews take to the streets celebrating the British decision to withdraw from Palestine. A crucial vote at the UN means their own state is finally within their grasp. In Haifa the mass exodus of Arabs has started and Len fears for the safety of Mohammed, his son Hassan, and their family. He exhorts them to abandon their home and leave the city by boat. Mohammed reluctantly agrees and Len takes them to the port but in the chaos at the dock gates, something unexpected happens. In an effort to make things right, Len makes a promise to Mohammed: a promise that will ultimately determine the fate of both their lives.

External Links

Trivia

Filming Locations: On Location in Israel

• Peter Kosminsky first had the idea for this project in 1999 upon receiving a letter from a former soldier suggesting to do a film about British soldiers in Palestine. He presented the idea to the BBC in 2002 which led to extensive research and detailed interviews with 82 veterans. BBC agreed to sell the project which was called Palestine at this stage and Peter Kosminsky got together with Daybreak Pictures and Channel 4 to bring it to the screen. Production was delayed due to lack of funds in 2009 but went finally in production in 2010 under the title Homeland
• Claire’s character Erin was influenced by Peter Kosminsky’s teenage daughter who has epilepsy. “I liked the idea of showing an eighteen-year old girl who is trying to live a normal life, despite the fact she occasionally had epileptic fits; and how other people cope with that as well”
• In the United States a screening of the series was presented at the Jewish Community Center in Manhattan, New York in November and December 2011
• Was nominated for a BAFTA Television Award as Drama Serial
• Claire Foy was nominated for a TV Choice Award as Best Actress

Quotes from Claire

I remember the very first audition very clearly. I got sent 25 scenes, and was asked to prepare all of them, which is what Peter does, God love him. It was so much work. I remember reading a scene, and I had no idea what it was about. But then when I got the finished script, I couldn’t stop reading it. It was just the most amazing story. Peter is just so talented, it’s unbelievable. Anyone who watches it will be blown away by the story. He somehow makes a political piece that’s so emotionally driven by the characters. There’s no agenda in it. It’s just amazing, it’s my favourite job ever, and I think it always will be.

Erin’s not very nice at all. [Laughs] She’s quite unforgiving and a bit bolshy, a bit sarky, and a bit of a cow, really. But I think it works because she’s a real person. And I felt very strongly that when I was 18 I was a lot like Erin. I was quite mouthy, and sticking up for things I didn’t really believe in because I didn’t know anything about the world. She’s a difficult character to love, but she’s real.

I had to have a few fits on film, so I had to be quite technically specific about them, because some of the people watching will be epileptic, and there’s a duty to get it right. We had some people from the Epilepsy Foundation come in and talk to us and give is some information about it. And there are things you can watch on YouTube about it as well. I watched some fits, but it felt a bit weird to be watching them. It seems like such a personal thing. And I watched quite a few documentaries with people talking about what it felt like to have epilepsy, and how it affects your life. I think she’s so aggressive all the time because she doesn’t want people to think that she’s got a disorder or needs help. She doesn’t want to be patronised at all.

Israel’s a beautiful country, it’s warm, it’s got lovely food, Tel Aviv’s an amazing city, it’s a really nice place to film. It’s a very metropolitan place, with a relatively European feel to it. Politically, it’s not my favourite place in the world. I’d never been anywhere before that was in conflict, and I very much felt that it was in conflict. For a country that’s so aware of its politics it was brilliant they gave us permission, because we couldn’t have done it anywhere else.

This page was last modified on: February 19, 2012