The Night Watch (2011)

Claire Foy is playing Helen Giniver

The Night WatchFilming Dates: November and December 2010
TV Premiere: UK: July 12, 2011 on BBC2 / US: TBA
DVD Release: UK: TBA / US: TBA
Director: Richard Laxton
Screenwriter: Paula Milne

Anna Maxwell Martin, Claire Foy, Harry Treadaway and Jodie Whittaker

Based Upon: novel by Sarah Waters
Genre: Drama | Romance | War
Runtime: 90 minutes
Rating: UK: unknown / US: unknown

Plot Outline

Set against the turbulent backdrop of London in the 1940s, this adaptation of Sarah Waters’ best-selling novel, The Night Watch, follows four young Londoners inextricably linked by their wartime experiences. In a time when the barriers of sexual morality and social convention have been broken down, Kay, Helen, Viv and Duncan enjoy a freedom never experienced before.

Moving back in time through the 1940s into the maelstrom of the Blitz, the lives, loves and losses of these four central characters are unravelled. For them, the post war victory is bittersweet, for it returns them to the margins of society from which they hoped they had been liberated. In order to build their future they must each make peace with their past.

Claire's Role

Claire Foy plays Helen, a naive but emotionally needy woman who uses the war to both hide and exploit her sexuality.

Helen is a vulnerable easily tempted working-class girl with low self-esteem. Despite being idolised by Kay (Anna Maxwell Martin), she leaves her for the more glitzy Julia (Anna Wilson-Jones), a sophisticated writer. The two of them will be in a troubled relationship. After the war Helen works at a dating agency with Viv (Jodie Whittaker).

External Links


Filming Locations: Bath, UK

• It was filmed during one of the coldest winters in living memory – often filming in temperatures in the region of minus five to -10 degrees, sometimes lower. Much of the bombsite debris that we laid down on the ground (most of which, incidentally, was made of fibreglass and rubber) was actually freezing to the ground, making it difficult for the props team to move it around in between takes.

• Some of the interior sets used were taken from the Lark Rise To Candleford set

Quotes from Claire

There were times when I couldn’t think, let alone act. You have no idea how hard it is pretending to be warm when you aren’t.

Helen is a lost soul who doesn’t really see herself as a lesbian. She doesn’t like living a lie and she can’t justify being with a woman in her mind if other people think it’s a bad thing to do. So when she falls passionately in love with a woman, that’s a shock for her.

It’s quite difficult to play someone who’s so emotionally erratic. She’ll say the first thing that comes into her head. You know when you’re in a relationship and you’re feeling a bit jealous, the adult part of your brain tells you not to ask where the other person was. Well, Helen just goes: “Where were you, what have you being doing? Please tell me, please? And tell me you love me, tell me you love me.”

And it was painful to read and especially when you read the book and you hear her in a monologue and she doesn’t want to do it but she can’t help herself. It’s because she’s so insecure. She has no confidence whereas Kay and Julia are such strong people and Helen holds onto them in order to live her life. It was difficult to play but I did like playing this character who was so desperate as it was quite easy to be the person who said everything first. I loved playing her in fact.

Helen makes a lot of bad decisions. She wants to do the right thing all the time. She’s concerned about what people think and what the right thing to do is — but she doesn’t know what that is. She wants love, but doesn’t know what to do when she gets it — that’s why her relationship with Kay goes so wrong.

Quotes from Others

Oh my goodness! I have all my saucy scenes with Claire Foy – it’s like Little Dorrit and Esther Summerson getting off with each other!
Co-Star Anna Maxwell Martin

Quotes from Reviews

Kay’s story was the headliner but the supporting strands, played out by top-drawer performances from Jodie Whittaker, Claire Foy and Harry Treadaway, knitted together into a moving picture of British society at a moment of major upheaval.

This page was last modified on: February 19, 2012