||This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations. (March 2013)|
|Created by||Victoria Wood|
|Written by||Victoria Wood
|Directed by||Gavin Millar|
Sylvestra Le Touzel
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||1|
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Original airing||10 December 2006|
Housewife, 49 is a 2006 television film based on the wartime diaries of Nella Last. Written by and starring English actress and comedian Victoria Wood, it follows the experiences of an ordinary housewife and mother in the Northern English town of Barrow-in-Furness, Lancashire during the Second World War. It was first broadcast in the UK by ITV on 10 December 2006.
The Mass Observation project was a non-governmental scheme designed to document and examine the lives of ordinary people. Nella Last participated in the project and signed her weekly diaries "Housewife, 49", her age when she first began the correspondence. Her diaries to Mass Observation, often written in pencil, provide the narrative of the play as she documents her life. Edited versions of her diary have been published: Nella Last's War edited by Richard Broad and Suzy Fleming appeared first in 1981 and has been more recently re-published by Profile Books in 2007. Housewife, 49 is based on this book which covers the years 1939–45. Nella Last's Peace, which appeared in 2009, includes diary entries from her immediate post-war years. A third volume is planned for publication in 2010.
In some scenes, the staff of Mass Observation are seen reacting to, and sometimes visibly moved by, her letters. During the course of the programme, Last moves from being an introverted, isolated, and depressed individual in a difficult marriage, to become an outgoing character who, through her voluntary work during wartime, becomes a backbone of the local community. At the end of the programme it is explained that Nella continued to write to Mass Observation until her death in 1968. The original diary together with hundreds of other diaries and Mass Observation's other papers are available to the public at the Mass Observation Archive at the University of Sussex.
It also documents the lead character's changing relationships with those around her; standing up to her domineering husband (David Threlfall), developing a close but sometimes strained friendship with Mrs Waite (Stephanie Cole) the head of the Local Women's Voluntary Service, and her changing relationships with her eldest son Arthur (Ben Crompton), and her younger son Cliff (Christopher Harper) who is changed by his experiences of combat. It is also implied that Cliff, who in real life became a sculptor in Australia, was gay; although Nella does not realise this.
Housewife, 49 was released on DVD in the US on 11 March 2008.
- Housewife, 49 at the Internet Movie Database
- Newspaper interview with Victoria Wood, Manchester Evening News, 2006-11.
- Filming the railway sequences in Housewife, 49.