Wish Me Luck is a British television drama about the exploits of British women undercover agents during the Second World War.
The series was made by London Weekend Television for the ITV network between 17 January 1988 and 25 February 1990 and created by Lavinia Warner and Jill Hyem, who had previously produced and written the BBC women prisoner of war series Tenko. The series was filmed on location in England and France.
Wish Me Luck is similar to Tenko and the 1970s BBC drama Secret Army, in that it deals with strong female characters coping under extreme conditions in wartime. The organisation for which the series’ women agents worked, the Outfit, was based on the real-life Special Operations Executive. Season 1 and 2 were based on the exploits of SOE agent Nancy Wake and much of the dialogue was copied from her autobiography The White Mouse.
The series also addressed social issues and divisions under wartime conditions. A great deal of attention was also paid to creating the social context of the operatives, the drama of their work, against the backdrop of an intensely detailed local “colour” in both wartime Britain and France.
“Wish Me Luck (as You Wave Me Goodbye)” is a song made popular during the Second World War by Gracie Fields.
Outline (Series 01)
The first series of eight episodes follows the experiences of wife and mother Liz and factory girl Mathilde from their initial recruitment and training in England, through to the terrifying reality of their day-to-day lives as agents in Occupied France. Under their new code names, Celeste and Aimee, Liz and Matty are faced with the ever-present threat of discovery by the occupying German forces – who are led by the new Abwehr chief Colonel Krieger – as well as the danger of betrayal by French collaborators.
Outline (Series 02)
The second series sees Liz Grainger (Kate Buffery, Trial & Retribution), now an experienced operative, working in the London home office under the direction of Colonel James “Cad” Cadogan (Julian Glover, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade). Desperately needed recruits join the team, but they bring troubles of their own. Vivien (Lynn Farleigh, Pride and Prejudice) carries a secret that may compromise her judgment, while Emily (Jane Snowden, All Passion Spent) is a skilled radio operator but dangerously raw at the spy game. How will they fare in France, where even the smallest mistake can prove fatal?
Outline (Series 03)
The third and final series opens in 1990, opens in May 1944 and sees the brave agents of the ‘Outfit’ inextricably involved in the fate of the Maquis-held Le Crest plateau in the foothills of the French Alps. Radio operator Emily Whitbread (Jane Snowden – Gaudy Night) arrives at the Le Crest plateau with a new friend, Nicole Dissard (Felicity Montagu – I’m Alan Partridge), and is soon reunited with her former lover Luc Ferrier and seasoned agent Kit Vanston. Kit is working closely with local resistance leader Jean Renard. After sending out two more agents to Le Crest – Lewis Lake and Virginia Mitchell now head of the Outfit, outlines to Kit and Renard her superiors’ plans for an uprising on the plateau.
The first series centered around the exploits of two recruits:
- Liz Grainger/Celeste … Kate Buffery.
- Matty Firman/Aimee … Suzanna Hamilton.
- Jane Asher … Faith Ashley.
- Julian Glover … Colonel Cadogan.
- Michael J. Jackson … Kit Vanston/Gregoire.
- Jeremy Northam … Colin Beale/Cyrano.
- Shelagh McLeod … Claudine de Valois.
- Warren Clarke … Colonel Werner Krieger.
- Lynn Farleigh … Vivien Ashton/Solange.
- Catherine Schell … Virginia Mitchell/Dominique.
- Jeremy Nicholas … Lewis Lake/Antoine.
- Mark Anstee … Luc Ferrier.
- Trevyn McDowell … Yvette.
The third and final series, which was based on the 1944 Vercors rebellion, saw Jane Snowden joined by Catherine Schell, Jeremy Nicholas and, in one of her first television roles, Shirley Henderson. Running the ‘Outfit’ back in London were Jane Asher and Julian Glover. Other key characters were played by Terrence Hardiman, Jeremy Northam, Stuart McGugan, Felicity Montagu, Mark Anstee, Trevor Peacock and Nigel Le Vaillant.
There were 23 episodes in all. The first series was directed by Gordon Flemyng, the second and third series by Bill Hays.
Wish Me Luck Series
- Series 01 (1988):
- Series 03 (1990):
Production & Filming Details
- Bill Hays … (15 episodes, 1989-1990).
- Gordon Flemyng … (8 episodes, 1988).
- Nick Elliott … executive producer (23 episodes, 1988-1990).
- Michael Chaplin … producer (15 episodes, 1989-1990).
- Lynda Ostermeyer … coordinating producer (8 episodes, 1988).
- Colin Shindler … producer (8 episodes, 1988).
- Lavinia Warner … producer (8 episodes, 1988).
- Jill Hyem … (creator) (23 episodes, 1988-1990).
- Lavinia Warner … (creator) (23 episodes, 1988-1990).
- Frances Galleymore … (6 episodes, 1989-1990).
- Michael Chaplin … (4 episodes, 1990).
- Kevin Clarke … (3 episodes, 1988-1990).
- Colin Shindler … (1 episode, 1988).
- Michael Baker … (1 episode, 1989).
- Terry Hodgkinson … (1 episode, 1989).
- Kate Buffery … (1 episode, 1990).
- Michael J. Jackson … (1 episode, 1990).
- Jim Parker … (14 episodes, 1989-1990).
- Denis King … (8 episodes, 1988).
- Clayton Parker … (23 episodes, 1988-1990).
- London Weekend Television (LWT).
- Goldhil Home Media (USA) (video).
- ITV – Independent Television (all media).
- Release Date:
- Series 01: 17 January 1988 to 06 March 1988.
- Series 02: 08 January 1989 to 19 February 1989.
- Series 03: 07 January 1990 to 25 February 1990.
- Running Time: 51 minutes.
- Rating: 12.
- Country: UK.
- Language: English.